The Angry Corrie 4: Nov-Dec 1991
A day out with Jimmy Glum
Got up at seven. Feeling pretty grumpy. Going away with Alex today, so that's instantly irksome He's totally unreliable in every regard, excepting his unreliability. My wife persecutes me with the insoluble quandary of whether I want toast or not. The Bitch.
It's sunny outside. That's a bad sign. Right, I'm not going. Bastard wife cajoles me with facile assertions that I'll enjoy it once I get moving. Probably hoping for an Accident. She doesn't understand me. Get all my crap ready, the rucksack is really heavy and my back is very sore and who wants to go wandering about in a totally bleak, man-damaged terrain anyway? I mean, do you think you're setting close to anything other than how utterly insignificant you really are? Or, alternatively, do you really imagine it's possible to 'get away from it all'? And why am I bothering with a camera and all its attendant shit? Take a picture of the Scottish landscape and all that's being recorded is a graphic representation of sheepish appetite and human greed. Of course, glacial action is also a major formative influence, but what's so marvellous about millions of tons of ice scouring the terrain like planetary sandpaper?
I hate it when the sun shines so early. She's going to her work now, wishes me a good day, sarcastic cow. Take care, she also offers, but I know what she really means. It's at lonely times like these I wish I had a dog. To kick.
I have to be at the bus station by nine, it's time to go. God, what a bore. Boots probably need nikwaxed but I can't be bothered and there's no way I'm luggin a tin of it away when the weight of the camera crap is already busting my ass. (It's so depressing to find oneself employing Americanisms.) I cross the road and clump past the filled roll shop. The thought of food makes me want to upchuck explosively. Anger simmers at this ignorance, so I buy a Picnic bar on the grounds that the peanuts and raisins within it are virtually a meal, and stow it in my pack with a sense of responsibility discharged. I enjoy complete certainty that I will never eat again as I don't really need to. A soup existence might be viable though.
Of course Alex isn't at the bus station when I get there, so my anxiety rises a notch or two. Obviously he's not there because he's such a worthless friend. I suppose I've only known him for about twenty years, why should I expect anything? The bus pulls out, Alexless. He may yet appear, he has previously caught up with me on top of Ben Cruachan, albeit going in the opposite direction. On another occasion it was in the Pattack bothy two days late. He's got his own business and is a bit of a yuppie, so I'm prepared to bet he's in M&S buying expensive sandwiches and tins of wine. Actually, it's a relief the arsehole hasn't appeared. What are friends anyway? They are people who drive into trees at 102 mph or just don't exist. And why is it I always feel like a dick sitting in all this hillwalking gear on a bus with sensible folk? They go up hills too and they even enjoy it, but they go with Muriel. It's hot on the bus and I'm starting to get hungry.
We'd decided to do Vorlich, the Loch Lomond one, as a 'training' hill. Haven't bothered so much with winter outings recently, what with Global Warming screwing the weather upside down. May as well stick to it in case Alex makes an effort. I can't be hassled thinking of somewhere else anyway. Of course the vista from the banks of Loch Lomond is dreich, dreich, dreich. For a second I remember what I do for a living and want to die. How I hate the bus. Cramped naffness and hoi effing polloi. Have no truck nor bus with people and remember there is no beauty that will not tarnish and be done.
I cumbersomely barge down the aisle and people look at me askance as the World slithers and melts on the windows. I alight into drizzle. There is greyness. I knew that the sunshine had been a warning.
Under the railway and onto the hill. Splotch, glitch, splotch, glitch go my boots. My boots with no nikwax Everywhere is glutinous goo. And my belly rumbles. Thank heaven I had the wit to stock up with supplies this morning. Right enough, the Picnic goes down a treat. That will definitely see me through the day.
The drizzle is particularly wet. My stupid, far too hot, Goretex jacket is obviously a secret smoker given how poorly it breathes in the rain. The wind seems to be getting up. Personally, I don't give a toss for Ben Vorlich, it seems like a bloody bore to me. Not that I have ever seen it. I've been up it a couple of times though. I wonder why I'm here, then remember, I'm a bloody bore too. The drizzle is quite heavy now. It is raining. This is awful. Trudge trudge trudge. For a moment I remember what I do for a living and want to die.
The World looks utterly colourless and drained. Coincidentally, that is how I feel. The cloud must be down to a thousand feet, I must be up at about eleven hundred. I'll come clean about me and Goretex now. I don't really believe in it but I have to buy it. Ha! not just ripstop Goretex: any 'Hi-Tech' ripoff stuff commands my fullest attention. Which reminds me of the camera, the lenses, the tripod, the flashgun, the spare film, the filters and the fact that they will not be stirring from the rucksack.
It's no good, I can't pretend any longer, my feet are wet. Also, surprisingly, I'm starving. This must be the absolute pits. My feet are cold and wet, the rest of me is hot and wet. Yes, I know I just said my feet were damp. Up yours anyway, I bet you're not reading this at the mercy of the Elements. Not that Elements have any mercy. Alex utterly hates the rain, the sugar-plum geek (damn Yankisms again), so he can be written out of today's fun-packed narrative.
Nothing to eat now but grass, or raw sheep. Everyone knows about mad cow disease, but maybe I am the first in print with the shattering disclosure that if you have eaten bhoona lamb, a wee bit chop or even Shepherd's Pie, then you have probably got stupid sheep disease. There are two primary symptons: a substantial desire to be out on the hills and a feeling of pleasure when one is. I haven't got it. Mind you, I think I've got M.E.
Why oh bloody why am I here? My legs and feet are soaked and frozen, my belly is void, my back is aching, my torso overheated and sweaty. Again, I wonder, why? Suddenly it all becomes transparently lucid.
For it is only at times like this, when my prevailing mood fits the prevailing circumstances, that I'm a child of Nature in resonant harmony with all of Creation. Farewell.