Many years ago I worked at Arbourfield Camp. (R.EM.E.) and one morning the following was pinned up on a notice board..

It has come to the attention of the C.O. that there has been an outbreak of faggotry in the ranks, this behavior will stop immediately.
This sort of behavior is strictly for commissioned officers only.


ROFL. My ex-boyfriend was at Arborfield for two years.
Thanks for the insights into the meaning of the term 'camp', and the other anecdotes as well. A few years ago, there was a tv doc on the middle-class, and its tag-line was that no one would ever admit to being middle-class, unlike upper or working class. I always get the same impression with camp. People would rather admit to being gay, etc, rather than being camp. I wonder if its why camp doesn't appear in LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer, Curious, Asexual, Pansexual, Gender-non-conforming, Gender-Fluid, Non-binary, and Androgynous. Maybe its seen as trivial or frivolous.
L.G.B.Turbo 4WD Diesel..??
Talbot. Sorry, Gordonrutter.

Its a grand book, full of amusing pictures and interesting discourse.

I dont think it was intended to be used as a guide to the area...yet it would serve very well
Bugger. I’ve literally just put my copy in front of me ready to photograph, beat
me to it...
This is brilliant.

Something very credible about Les himself, as a witness, too. He was an intelligent man who'd tell it how it was.

I once saw his act at the Floral Hall, Scarborough. I saw a tonne of Northern club acts - pretty well all of the well known ones - as a kid as my dad was a musician playing for them (although we were just in the audience at Scarborough) and have to say from memory, Les was the best act I ever saw (hence my interest in him here).

The year I saw him at Scarborough can't have been that distant in time from when he was playing Sunderland.
I have a very elderly friend who used to write material for Les and knew him very well. I shall ask him if he knows anything about what Les may have seen...

He knows a number of very scurrilous tales about old Northern WMC 'turns' and will tell them if fed enough Shiraz.
Just spotted this - I wonder if your very elderly friend ever worked any of the same clubs my dad did?

My late dad was a taxman by day and moonlighted (without telling he taxman) as a musician at night and on the weekends, when I was a kid.:D
Macho but preening and theatric.

And he was the senior NCO in an entertainment camp, not charging Japs in the jungle.

That was the source of the character's bitterness though, that he'd been put in charge of the entertainers. He wanted to be redeployed to do proper soldiering. He was not self-consciously macho for the sake of it.


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Sorry to back-pedal a minute.
George Melly's comments are interesting because his own autobiographical writing is noteworthy for his apparently unabashed candidness about himself. One reviewer said something along the lines that Melly appeared incapable of telling a lie, even if the truth put him in an awkward position. He may of course have been self-editing to make himself appear nicer than he was, but I don't think that was part of his character - I think it's more likely that he was truly bemused by Williams' bitterness, and relentlessly peripatetic acerbity.
As Davies' cited piece says though, it's all about the background. I love Melly's autobiographies: he treated them as confessionals, so as you say they are brutally honest and people who knew him all said they were pretty much verbatim accounts, albeit occasionally embellished, but Melly never seeks to put himself in a good light. Being a jazz freak and a lover of good writing I have read them all repeatedly (I especially recommend "Owning Up", both hilarious and vivid) and George's mother was quite Bohemian, had a quasi-theatrical background, and as a result Melly's early life was often in the company of show-people where high-camp was the order of the day, and then went to Stowe where homosexuality - or at least homosexual sex - was endemic, so his whole attitude was one of complete acceptance. Williams had the permanent dichotomy of feeling repulsed by his own urges.

Anyway, back to the thread.
I had only seen the photo in the context of ridicule, didn't know it was on a book jacket.
It isn’t! See my comment and look at the Instagram account it is sourced from. It’s a spoof by internet legend Quentin Smirhes (AKA Sean Reynard - He may have been referenced before in the Fortean Times). Look at some of Quentin’s YouTube videos if you would really like to disappear down a Sunday morning rabbit hole.

I recommend starting with “Quentin Smirhes’ Tea Time”