This land is your land...
- Who can this be, atop Beinn an Lochain one warm spring Sunday afternoon, rucksack on back, boots on feet, portable phone in hand? What matter of great import is being discussed, Cellnet-wise, such that even the solitude and silence of the summits is no longer deemed sacrosanct? Surely some up-and-coming politico plotting the demise of his party's elders and betters in the assured secrecy of a 2956' hilltop? Or a Rangers executive in the final, despairing throes of trying to keep Mr Souness in the managerial hotseat at Ibrox? Or maybe even an SMC official frantically phoning through the startling news that Beinn an Lochain is a Munro after all? No no and no; our loudmouthed friend is none of these things, merely some half-baked yuppie from Glasgow's West End, literally upwardly mobile and phoning up his pals in Partick to let them know the scintillating news that he's ... er, um... standing on top of a hill, making a phonecall. What was it Norman Lamont said about portable phones being the scourge of restaurants ... ?
- Having made mention of politicos, has anyone noticed how it seems to be only Labour MPs who have hillwalking accidents? First Shadow Chancellor John Smith, lucky to survive on Lawers late in 1989. Now his shadow cabinet colleague Gordon Brown, recently slipping and ripping something elsewhere in Perthshire. Party political incompetence perhaps? Or more likely, given that Chris Smith, Labour member for Islington, is the sole Westminster Munroist, is it simply the case that only the socialist parliamentarians are given to inhaling the free, invigorating air of the mighty summits? Tories, it would appear, prefer to sit on their fat arses in clubs such as Whites and the Carlton, sipping sundowners and devising iniquitous taxes to impose on the populace.
- And whilst on the subject of Browns, who do we have here, standing on a Fife railway station platform, loudly berating the fruit of her womb who is just about to embark on yet another trip to sunnier climes and climbs? Why, it's Hamish mater, once again about to be left in the vacuum of housework and sonlessness whilst her batchelor boy's Brownian motion takes him ever more often overseas now that his wanton popularising of the Highlands leaves him precious little access to the solitude he so loves. Oh well; back to the Kinghorn kitchen sink. It's a hard life being the mother of all Munrobaggers.
- Just a thought, but could the fact that Grampian TV are currently having their franchise challenged from two different quarters be in any way connected with their absurd decision not to screen Muriel Gray's Munro Show? Maybe not - but it would be nice to think so.
- And finally, not really a hillwalking story this, but let's have a quick checklist of the animals released by "liberationists" during their April raid on Kincraig Wildlife Park. The badger: flattened by a lorry on the A9. The eagle: promptly attacked and killed by other, less domesticated eagles. The otters: still in the land of the living, but both seriously injured by attackers unknown before they were recovered. The red grouse: all bar one immediately nobbled and gobbled by the Arctic Foxes. The Arctic Foxes: stayed right where they were, thank you very much, presumably happily replete with their unexpected midnight grouse snack. The pine martens: disappeared, probably shot by a farmer given that it's lambing time. And then there are the wolves and the wild boar (gggrrr ... ): what?! never even released to run wild and free. Surely it couldn't be that the so-called animal lovers went all faint-hearted at the prospect of meeting a grouse-like fate?
TAC 3 available for wafting away the midges in late August...
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