The Angry Corrie 1: May 1991

Meet the authors...

The contributors to your Angry Corrie are a bunch of faceless amateurs whom no-one has ever heard of. Conversely, much Scottish hillwriting of late has flowed from the pens of several well-known "names" - as detailed in the following thumbnail critiques:

Hamish Brown

Once edited an anthology of Scottish hill-poetry to which he was the chief contributor. His first work, Hamish's Mountain Walk, was a textbook example of how to tap a previously untapped market (just like your fantastic fanzine! - enthusiastic Ed.), and was so well structured and conceived that it served as guidebook, missal and hymnal to a whole decade's worth of Munrobaggers - until, in fact, the arrival of coffeetable picturebooks in the mid-eighties. Nothing Brown has since written has really enhanced his reputation - a situation he himself tends to exacerbate by frequent, reiterative harkings-back to his earlier triumphs. Pet subjects: Shetland Collies; schooldays - both as pupil at Dollar & teacher at Braehead; conservative evangelical Christianity; stressing that he is not, no way, never has been a Munrobagger; the ethics of green cagoules/tents/beards as against bright orange ones.

Martin Moran

Guru and spiritual leader of the specs-but-no-beard trendies. Shot to stardom in 1984/85 with his Munros-in-winter epic, a fame consolidated with 2 books: The Munros in Winter & Scotland's Winter Mountains. The latter of these particularly exemplifies the shortcomings of his prose style, mixing as it does detailed descriptions of state-of-the-art snow & ice techniques with accounts of actual ascents written in an absurd neo-Romantic purple prose. Is particularly fond of calling the summit of a hill its "pate", and of using such antiquated constructions as "snowy raiment", "winter garb" & "crag-girt". Pet subjects: being avalanched on Ben Wyvis; gullies in the far northwest; dismissing anyone who is either incapable or disinterested in climbing Grade V ice as somehow incompetent.

Tom Weir

Once famously drank most of Sir John Hunt's whisky during the Scottish Greenland expedition. Has nose the same shape, colour and consistency as the bobble atop his red tumshie hat. Apparently impossible to escape from if encountered on a hill. Progenitor of countless Scots Magazine articles & TV progs. in which he manages to convey an interest in people, in wildlife and a sheer love of the hills in a way as yet unmatched. Continually & consistently plays down his own far from inconsiderable achievements in the development of Scottish climbing - a trait all too rare these days, & one which can't be a bad thing. Prone to end any article with a long rambling list of birds - rather like a band which can never think of definite endings to their songs so constantly resort to fade-outs...

A. Wainwright

An old curmudgeon who died recently. Famous for rarely venturing outwith the Lakes, and then only on day-return bustrips from Kendal. Only once spent a night out on the hill, and was reputedly scared shitless by a cow. Never set foot in snow. Occasionally espied Scotland from Skiddaw, but rarely dared venture there for fear that his beloved Pond District might appear Hollandlike in comparison. Famously sexist. Brilliant draughtsman: produced possibly the finest linedrawings of hills ever published.

Craig Caldwell

Yet another writeup of a Long Walk, his Climb Every Mountain is a classic example of the truism that a good walker doesn't necessarily make a good writer. The whole book - which often reads as if it has been badly ghosted - is as creakingly undercreative as its title. (And, while we're at it, what's with this persistent notion that Scotland's hills can be idly labelled "mountains" as soon as one has climbed them?) The word "cheery" appears in adjectival form several hundred times: cheery bothy, cheery campfire, cheery cairn...cheerio.

Richard Gilbert

Master-in-charge of Munrobagging at Amplegirth School, Yorkshire. Built a reputation almost entirely on the back of perhaps the most dull & prosaic of all modern hillbooks, the diary-format Memorable Munros. Struck it lucky in that this arrived several years before Brown's munro opus, & was thus voraciously gobbled-up by a public hungry for material & starved of even the most mundane publications. Comes across as something of a self-occupied zealot (but then don't we all), & frequently seems to have climbed unlikely combinations of Munros, often in adverse conditions, simply in order to get them over with. Since the publication of MM, has coedited (with Ken Wilson) some of the "Big Walks" series, hosted a dismal Channel 4 hillwalking series, & currently has a monthly column in High magazine.

Chris Bonington

Similar to Wainwright in that he has written little on the Scottish hills, his books are nevertheless of persistent interest to us lot due (a) to the sheer scale of his achievements in the Himalaya and elsewhere; & (b) to abundant tales of his encounters with the Creag Dhu climbing club in Glen Coe in the early sixties: the quintessential culture clash, Sandhurst officer v Clydebank fitter. The lingering tenor of these stories is of a Bonington somewhat arrogant & supercilious, & it may be this which lies at the heart of his still far from complete popularity with Scottish audiences. His logistical genius comes across in prose that is well-ordered & efficient rather than risk-taking & flamboyant. Charges exorbitant fees for his slideshows & public appearances: the Emlyn Hughes of climbing? (I think not - sceptical Ed.)

Jimmy McGregor

Not strictly an author as such, since all his published works are mere writeups of his popular TV series. Has attempted to fill the boots recently vacated by the ageing Tom Weir, without as yet coming anywhere near achieving this - not least due to his annoying habit of interrupting interesting interviewees mid-sentence. Also lacks Weir's esteem amongst the hillgoing fraternity, mainly due to ever-spotless climbing equipment & occasional (or not-so-occasional) use of a helicopter to ferry him along so-called "walks". For more on this, take time out to read the bothybook at Over Phawhope on the Southern Upland Way.

Perkin Warbeck adds:

Walt Poucher

His books The Scottish Peaks & The Magic of Skye are unique in their style & undoubtedly good introductions to their respective hills. Poucher's world is one of Bentleys, hotels, changing for dinner & oldfashioned ways. There are obliging boatmen who row him up Loch Maree to avoid the long walk to Slioch. There are retainers who wake him if there are "cloud galleons" on Cruachan. His purple prose paints the landscape with Cyclopean Walls, as through the Stygian Gloom he sees mural precipices being climbed by good companions whilst deterring ordinary pedestrians. He stays in the Sligachan Hotel, uses only Leica cameras & Tricouni nailed boots, plasters himself with green eyeshadow, romances the world's most beautiful women with his Steinway grand, & generally weaves an individualistic pattern among the Scottish peaks. Much vaunted as a photographer, his pics are somewhat unimaginative picture-postcard efforts, although worth ploughing through for occasional glimpses of his Dolomite Sprint.

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