The Angry Corrie 1: May 1991
Welcome to Issue No. l of The Angry Corrie. Come away in, pull up a chair & sit yersel down! First things first: why a hillwalking fanzine? Well, fanzines have been a common feature of the footballing world for several years now, & are very much here to stay. They arose out of a need for genuine grassroots magazines, & in response to the situation whereby football had become overwhelmingly big business - all millionpound players, hospitality boxes & satellite TV - despite the fact that it was still, as ever, being financed by masses of workaday punters who regularly braved wind, rain & flying bovril cartons without ever being given the chance to speak out & express opinions about the game which they love.
TAC has been produced on the basic premise that football & hillwalking - in Scotland at least - are not that dissimilar. O.K., O.K., so one involves 22 overgrown weans booting a bag of wind around a muddy field whilst the other requires an unspecified number of either or both sexes to allow themselves to be blown about various frequently inhospitable summits. But both these activities - particularly in the way they relate to an urban context - provide much needed freedom & relief for thousands upon thousands of perfectly ordinary folk who regularly - almost religiously - sally forth, weekend in, weekend out, in an attempt to break free, for a short time at least, from the shackles & strictures of work or unemployment.
Both football & hillwalking are very much of the people. Although the former is, of course, in large part a spectator sport whilst the latter is an almost entirely participant-centred activity, neither could survive without the patronage of the ordinary woman or man in the street. Both have their institutions & regulatory bodies - in football the rulemakers & disciplinarians such as the SFA, in hillwalking the advisory/consultation bodies such as the Scottish Mountaineering Club & the Mountaineering Council of Scotland - but in both cases, crucially, the real heart of the matter doesn't lie in the most obvious & visible centre. Just as those who love & care most about the game of football aren't the well-fed septuagenarians of Park Gardens, so the most important people when it comes to sustaining & nurturing a love of the hills are the nameless, faceless masses who pour out from our cities & towns at each & every glimmer of good weather, rather than the self-satisfied members of various male-dominated clubs & societies who like to set themselves up as keepers of an elitist, well (Vibram)-heeled & narrow faith. (You don't believe these people exist? Well note, for starters, that the SMC has only just, within the past few months, deigned to admit women to its exclusively betesticled ranks - & then only after a degree of wrangling that would not have disgraced its elder sibling in stodginess, the MCC.)
The upshot of all this is that hillwalking & football are kindred in that they share a slightly off-centre, tangential scepticism- which occasionally veers toward the vaguely iconoclastic, the downright cynical or, perhaps most healthily, the self-effacing, & without which the centre wouldn't hold & things would start to fall apart very rapidly indeed.
That, then, is an attempt to explain part of the basic rationale of your fab new fanzine. There is, however, an additional motivation, & one which will hopefully start to be addressed by the very fact of going into print. It is this: to return to our comparison, whereas most of the writing on football - be it in newspaper or book form - is predominantly punteresque in style & content (sick as a parrot, over the moon, game of two halves etc etc), virtually the entire opus of Scottish hillwriting over the past couple of decades has been as stiflingly stuffy as a midge-filled tent on a damp August morning. The writing is unadventurous, undemanding & struggles along in an attempt to be very polite & avoid offending anybody, whilst "criticism" now standardly takes the form of in-house reviews that are as tiresomely backslapping & self-congratulatory as interviews with showbiz celebs on Wogan. Of course, all of this is, at some level, the very antithesis of why a substantial proportion of people go to the hills - & consequently, to use the terminology of modern commercial forces, a large part of the market is not being catered for.
The causes are perhaps severalfold: the claustrophobically small coterie of authors, the overall commercialisation of the hillwalking "industry", or possibly even the simple paradox of trying to convey to a wide audience something that is basically solitary & personal in nature. Whatever the reasons, TAC plans to put some life back into hillwriting - both in terms of adopting radically outspoken standpoints wherever necessary, & by the trusty old medium of humour. When did you last read (as opposed to hear) anything about the Scottish hillgoing public that actually made you laugh? TAC, insofar as it has any real aims at all, intends to ally itself more with the spoken tradition - i.e. arguments, storytelling, moans & groans than with what currently passes for a written tradition.
So here it is then: the first of its kind, but hopefully not the last. Ideally TAC, should it survive & flourish, will never be that far away from being a shoestring (or should that be bootlace) operation - the road to glossiness is paved with tedium - but we do badly need a wider range of contributors. At present everything is being churned out by a happy band of brothers, to whom we need to add, especially in the sisterly department; otherwise it won't be long before we're all too knackered to go out onto the hills!
So write write write!!! - be it articles, letters, cartoons or just plain oldfashioned negative criticism. After all, most football fanzines started on a smallscale basis, struggling for ideas, doubtful of readership, yet they are now so many & varied that one of the leading publications, When Saturday Comes, has been forced to separate out its fanzine listings into 3 sections spread over consecutive issues. And if they can do it why not us? So as I was saying, pull up a chair, have a good read at all this stuff, then sharpen your pencil & turn off the TV: it's doubtless only showing a squad of post-adolescents kicking a pig's bladder around...