I dug this really old story out recently. Camping with the Devil was part of my short story collection Aldershot Stories, which won a Koestler Gold Award back in 2009. I cringed when I typed it up again, the writing is scruffy and doesn’t flow very well, and the weighting is terrible. I was considering a rewrite, but after reading it again, I left it be.

In tune with the Aldershot theme, the story is set in a real part of Aldershot and the characters are loosely based on real people. Everything else is fiction. The real reason I chose not to alter the story at all, is because it reminded me of a friend from college: Jacques.

Jacques popped in and out of my life over the course of a few years. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had a few spells in hospital. He would always turn up out of the blue and join us camping. And then one day he was gone.

No-one new where or why. He just wasn’t around anymore.

Once I thought that maybe Jacques was in my head, but there is at least one other credible witness alive from those days.

So Camping with the Devil is a tribute to Jacques. Wherever you are brother.

By Jambo Stewart

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