TAC 33 Index
The Editor of this blat has moved to the Ochils. The Bad Companion and I join him for tea and crumpets in his bijou living room-cum-TAC office and then for a jaunt up Ben Cleuch. Turns out it's his seventh day on this summit in a row. The Ed hails every stranger as if to say "you're going to be seeing a lot of me". And so they shall.
Genes and the ENT man at Grant Hutchison's Clootie City Hospital NHS Trust have left me with a larynx unable to tolerate cigarette smoke. This was the excuse on my sickie to the Ed for missing his Watershed Anniversary bash, evocatively described by Blanco in TAC32. I am currently accumulating a list of post-hill hostelries which are non-smoker friendly. One might expect the healthy outdoor life to encourage such a trend, but fashions, as I have ranted before, bow not to logic. Currently the list is two: the food bar of the Clachaig, and the Stagger Inn at Inverarnan (before 9pm). Any contributions gratefully received. Perhaps TAC will keep a list.
Hillwalkers and climbers make uneasy bedfellows. Tam Weir springs to mind as one who manages to sleep in both beds. He's Denis Law playing for both Man United and City. Climbers, however, often seem to positively despise the mere hillwalker. I recall a summer meeting with a hardy-looking type in the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. I was fresh from Bidean and full of it. "No," quoth he, "I don't go out in the summer, I only do hard winter routes these days."
We have to share the same terrain and equipment shops, but there are unwritten rules and demarcations separating us. This was brought home to me recently on Garbh Bheinn in Ardgour. This hill taunted us in its winter finery over three consecutive new years at Onich. "Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough", it bellicosely bellowed. And so, ten years down the line, it was added to the Warbeck bag of quasi-random summits. As we neared the top, a rock climber who was fumbling for his next move rested back on belay. Noticing us watching him, he hailed us with the friendly greeting "Fuck off".
A recent pitch-sharing was suggested between Clydebank FC and so-called West of Scotland Football Club - who are, rather unliterally, an Albion Rugby team. This of course would never have worked. The rugby boys churn the pitch to a pulp with their sadomasochistic rituals while the pursuivants of the beautiful game require a billiard-table-like flatness to ply their trade. As the rugby lads while away the hours with trouser-dropping and The Good Ship Venus, the footballers discuss Camus and Sartre. The divide between walkers and climbers may be as wide.
A day in the Mamores followed the Ardgourian expletives. On returning, I brought up a couple of Internet pages with the said summits attached. "Doug. Where are these mammaries?" asked Mahesh "Mad Dog" Kumar, the friendly trainee urologist. What do they teach these doctors these days? I guess a urologist doesn't need overmuch familiarity with the mammaries, but he is a married man.
Paul Hesp's breeches article in the last TAC is fresh in my mind as I stroll the streets of Mayrhofen in the Tirol. His defence of the wearing of breeches seems to rest upon their traditional origin, allowing farmers to avoid cow shite on their breeks. Mayrhofen's main street is way bereft of any cow shite and many of the chaps sporting the breech are accompanied by women in stilettos. The Bad Companion points out that the farmers are wearing sensible blue overalls. The only guys wearing Hesp's lederhosen are singing "Lovsntheyair" and "Memreees" in the lounge bars of hotels.
One of the differences between walking in the Tirol and Scotland is the marking of paths. One buys a map in Austria, but most navigation is by means of painted rocks. What would the cairn-crushers make of it? Is it such a crime? Another difference is the ability to buy a pint of lager at 3000m. On balance I would take the paint and the pint I think.
TAC 33 Index