The Angry Corrie 26: Feb-Mar 1996
A Socratic Dialogue
I arrived at our usual table in the Peh and Pint to find Lachlan flicking angrily through a paperback book, his lips set in a pale, wrathful line. At my arrival, he set aside his book, passed a weary hand across his face, and then fixed me with a steady gaze. "Might I ask you a few questions?"
I nodded my assent.
"Thank you. Imprimis: do you know why the fabric Gore-Tex is so called?"
I raised an eyebrow. "But of course. The name derives from that of the manufacturer, WL Gore."
Lachlan nodded solemnly. "So you would, perhaps, feel that the central letter "e" is an essential part of the name?"
"Indeed. While I have seen the hyphen and the capitals dropped in casual writing, to omit the "e" is to insult the Gore family and their genius."
"Quite so. Secundus: would you say that the French language has much use for the letter "k"?"
I considered this carefully. "Well. One must allow that the placenames of Brittany show some predilection for that letter ..."
Lachlan raised an admonitory hand. "A region in which the purity of the French tongue has been much diluted by Celtic influences. We speak now only of French of the true Latinate descent, the language of Voltaire and Descartes."
"Why, with that proviso, I would state that the letter "k" is notably absent from the French."
Lachlan nodded gravely. Tertius: do you believe that the word "cagoule" is of French origin?"
"With all my heart. It is no more than the French word for "hood". One must only recall that the French equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan was named les cagoulards to..."
Again Lachlan raised an admonitory hand. "Doubtless a fascinating tale, but one that is at best tangential to my present theme. May I take it for now that, as necessary consequence of my second and third points, you would accept that the word 'cagoule' should not, in all conscience, be spelt with an initial 'k'"?
"I recoil at the very thought."
"As I knew you would. Now. Quartus: given the climatic zone in which the Scottish mountains are located, and the exertions to which those who climb among these mountains are prone, perhaps you may agree with me that the Gore-Tex cagoule is the natural, nay the defining, item of apparel for the Scottish mountaineer?"
"Certainly. The garment's ability to shed water whilst allowing the microscopic moisture of perspiration to escape unhindered commends it above all things.
Lachlan sighed and sat back. "I have finished. We are in complete agreement." His hand trembling with strong emotion, he raised his book so that I might examine it. I need not give the title here: suffice it to say that the cover bears an image of a thin, spiky-haired, blonde woman, possessed of a certain perkiness of character that some find wearisome. "Is it not then a strange, terrible and above all ironic thing that this book, a bestseller in the annals of Scottish hill-walking publication, should consistently misspell the words 'Gore-Tex' and 'cagoule' in just the manner we have discussed?" he asked, in the tones of one mortally wounded.
And we fell into a disconsolate silence that lasted for some time.