Morning, campers!

Evening, campers!

The phrase I’ve just run into is rather ‘morning, campers!’ and is said to be an informal greeting to more than one person. Since I had never heard it before (which doesn’t mean anything, really!), I’m curious to know about its usage.

Thank you in advance.

Hi Conchita,

In the UK shortly after the second world war a certain entrepreneur called Billy Butlin devised the idea of providing cheap holidays for people who couldn’t afford to stay in hotels. This consisted of a number of huts kitted out with bedrooms and bathrooms situated in an area that also provided a cinema, a music hall, a dining hall and a games room. It was a communal holiday intended for families who would all eat together at mealtimes and go to communal entertainment. It was called a holiday camp and the people who stayed there were called campers. Each morning over a loudspeaker system linked to all the huts an entertainments officer would address everyone with the words Good morning campers so that noone was allowed to oversleep. These entertainments officers were known as Redcoats because of the colour of their blazers and many went on from there to become highly successful comedians on radio and tv.

Personally it sounds like a nightmare and the nearest I came to knowing about them was once when as a holiday job as a student I was employed as a games room attendant and was subjected to the noise from a juke box machine that belted out the latest hits 8 hours a day. I shall also never forget when the head cleaner gave me training on how to use a brush and pan and this was done in front of a large crowd of campers. I presume he thought all students were as thick as two short planks!


Thank you, Alan, for your vivid and colourful portrayal of a personal, somewhat nightmarish experience. These places sound like poor cousins of present-day camping sites (though at least they had their own bathrooms!). Maybe they really were their predecessors and I can imagine that right after the war this must have been the ideal holiday for many people.

Well, I take it that you don’t use the expression ‘morning, campers!’ anymore.

Talking about jukeboxes (and since I didn’t have an experience as bad as yours with them!), they are something I’ve missed in my life every since I was seventeen…

Thank you, Alan. You’ve now clarified one song from the Who’s Tommy that I never realized needed clarifying. Funny when you’re suddenly made to understand something you never knew you didn’t understand.

So in that it served something like the function of the Borsht Belt in the United States.

By the way, a student from Venezuela who’d worked for a resort in Europe claimed on his r?sum? that he’d worked as an “animator”. I thought he had worked in an animation studio, but he described a job that was what Americans call an “activities director” or “activities assistant”. I told him the use of “animator” in this sense was some kind of Franglais, but he insisted it was English. What do you call these people in the UK? I noticed you said “entertainment officer”. Is that the normal term?

You mean that in Spain you don’t have those jukeboxes now that play CDs?

“Jukebox” is an interesting word. The word “juke” meant a roadhouse, and it’s related to the word for “disorderly” in the Gullah language, which is a creole form of English spoken on islands off the east coast of the US. That word in turn is related to the word “dzugu”, which means wicked in the Bambara language, which is spoken in West Africa.

Your etymological vivisection of the word ‘jukebox’ is most illustrative, thank you. A word is a mere wrapping, isn’t it? I read somewhere that when you know what a word contains, then you can throw the word away.

My experience in the matter doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality, I’m afraid, but I don’t know of any place that has one, apart from a ‘Hard Rock Caf?’ in Beirut (I haven’t been to the one in Madrid), which is American – I think they’ve closed down the Canadian one there now. My daughter tells me there is a jukebox at a bowling centre she’s been to, but they don’t seem to be popular here, unfortunately. To make up for it, you have a wide choice of venues featuring live music, though.