TAC 31 Index
by David Rifter
TELL YOU WHAT, all you happening groovesters: ye olde rocke and rolle has been making quite an impact on the news pages these days, mainly through Manchester's wacky retro post-post-Britpop moptops, Fertile Bit in the Middle of a Desert.
You'll remember reading in an earlier TAC about FBMD's triumphant concert on the summit of Ben Lomond, when they wafted 80000 adoring Britbopsters into a higher level of exhipstance. Yea, verily, we were kings awhile as the riffs rolled raucously over the hilltops.
But, aye, lad, there's the rub. The band's open acceptance of an outdoor, mountain sports lifestyle has been condemned by many parents' groups: Fertile Bit are regarded as one of the root causes of the growing cult of recreational hillwalking among today's yoof. And now the group's leader, Joel Nolligher, has been reported as saying, "Like, everyone hillwalks, yeah? Going hillwalking is nothing. It's like taking the dog for a walk. Even most MPs hillwalk."
Stap ma cotton-pickin britches and dang ma poons! Square oldster MPs doing something as yoof-cool as hillwalking? It maks ye think and gars ye greet. Yet what are we to make of Nolligher's words? The reaction from the rest of the band has been minimal, nay, it has been deafening in its silence. What a contrast to the previous week's outburst from Rab Hardly, of Glasgow's bad boy band, G12, when Hardly said, "Mountaineering's like, safe and that. Sometimes when I've been out I've, like, done seven Munros in a day."
Such obvious encouragement for youngsters to attempt the South Cluanie Ridge led to Hardly's exclusion from G12. Even a later apology, accompanied by Hardly's public burning of his Rohan Striders, was not enough for him to be reinstated. Yet many say it is too late. Hillwalking already has a grip on the imagination of Scotland's youth, and is now an essential lifestyle enhancement for the cultural movers 'n' shakers.
I myself saw evidence of this recently at a Barrowlands concert. As the main act funked away in day-glo Goretex, for the first time in many years I was offered a package of dubious provenance. On inspection, it consisted of a train ticket to Crianlarich, a forged SYHA membership card, a pair of crampons and a slice of Kendal Mint Cake. Naturally I refused. Soon after, I made my excuses and left.
However, one voice must be heard. As we ageing rocksters who continue pathetically to try to keep abreast of trends and fashions (cf also the fat bloke from Chartbite) always say, let's listen to the kids themselves. One young lad, when asked about the hillwalking craze, said, "Eh ... like, Ah don't know." Further comment unnecessary, n'est-ce pas?
Some of you funksters at the back there might be wondering, "What's new, dude?" And verily, this pop stuff has always had a seedy subculture of mountain travel. Did not Lord McCartney et al convene with the Maharishi on Snowdon's summit, celebrating the event in "Fool on the Hill"? And surely it's a little unfair to blame all of today's walking subculture on music? What about the effect of the sensationally-popular miserablist writings of the bard of the bobble-hats, Irvine McNeish? Teenagers devour his books - Munrobagging, The Acid Bothy, and Mamore Stuc Nightmares - voraciously, even if they read nothing else. Surely these controversial texts, more than rawk 'n' rawl, are to blame for Scottish yoof's decline into lumpen outdoorism?
Of course, under no circumstances would I condone hillwalking - no siree. But can we not rejoice that in Scotland, our groovin' pop kids are generating their own culture? In this country, and increasingly down south, hillwalking is the new rock 'n' roll.
TAC 31 Index