TAC 42 Index
Here's something that every serious-minded news-junkie TACer will already have noticed: the huge mottled khaki tent much in evidence during the early June Kosovo peace negotiations. This must have been a good 10 metres or more in height and looked like a strong contender for the World's Biggest Tent Ever. Various folk with military connections are known to read TAC, so does anyone know (a) who made this monster flysheet, (b) where is it now, and (c) is it likely to go on sale at an Army Surplus Store any time soon?
Also eyecatching and meriting investigation is the scandal of Captain Birds Eye. The good Captain has had a long and noble provenance as a wearer of a fine bushy beard, much admired in TAC circles and at various stages used as a template by the Swan for characters in Murdo Munro cartoons. Indeed, just as beard-wearing Frank Dobson has been likened to Irvine Butterfield, so Captain Birds Eye has been compared with TAC stalwart and generally busy (and bushy) hill man Bert Barnett of Rattray. But not any more. Go down to your local Asda or Wal-Mart or wherever, pick up a packet of fish fingers, and no grizzled old glint-eyed skeely skipper sea dog is to be seen. Instead, in a cast-warp worthy of Star Trek, some new young pretender of a captain is pictured instead. And not only does this upstart and impostor look young and swarthy and frankly a bit of a medallion man, but he is also totally beardless. Could there be a strange connection here with Gordon Smith's page 19 letter concerning the hair-free state of one of the country's best known hill-writers? Could the role of modelling the new Captain Birds Eye really be the latest career move by Ian Mitchell?
The flurry of Matterhorn-related matter continues unabated. Val Hamilton writes: "There's probably a spike of rock in Holland called the Dutch Matterhorn if Beinn Dubhchraig can be thought to look pointy. However, at least the 3180m Matterhorn of Japan, Yari-ga-take, is 'Spear Peak' in Japanese, so there is some justification for this description (originally made by 19th century Western visitors, eg in Murray's Handbook to Japan, 1894, p206, but living on - see Paul Hunt's Hiking in Japan, 1988, p102)." And in Lakeland Mountain Challenges - to be reviewed in TAC43 - Ronald Turnbull writes on p67 of "the rising curve of Yewbarrow ('the other Matterhorn of Lakeland')". Given that Ronald has already nominated both Grisedale Pike and Belles Knott as Lakeland Matterhorns, surely it's make your mind up time.
It was good of Alan Blanco to find time to submit a piece of work for this issue (see pp4-5), since he has been very busy of late performing twelfth man duties for the ill- fated South African cricket team in the World Cup. On a similar theme, p1430 of this year's Wisden (yes, 1430 pages - good value, the old yellow book), includes the story of Alan Blank, a cricketer from Cannock who put together a team comprised entirely of members of the Blank family. Wimbledon also came under the creeping TAC influence this year, with both a Blanco and the lanky heart-throb Hewitt.
No space for a specific land-access-democracy slot this time, but a couple of thoughts nevertheless. As an addendum to his p17 letter, David Squires of Chipping Norton remarks that he would be keen to see "more discussion of the funicular proposal - given its importance it seems to have been rather under-represented so far". Right enough: despite the funicular having prompted the only non- black-and-white issue of TAC back in 1996, and despite a fair bit of comment since then, there hasn't been much coverage of the recent slow grind towards the damn desecratory thing being built. Your Ed has written on the subject in The Scotsman, but that's hardly the same thing as here in TAC. And soon, unless something dramatic happens offstage, it will be lying down in front of the diggers time - so what are folk currently thinking?
Thoughts and stories too, please, on the bloody gate that the estate on the north side of Glen Lyon put up at Invervar last autumn. This was a blatant attempt to keep walkers off the hill, and happened so quickly and unexpectedly that it caught all the relevant authorities and the media on the hop. On the presumption that it will appear again this August, it's time that some empirical evidence was gathered of how this has affected and annoyed people already. There was a report of at least one walker having had a none too pleasant confrontation with estate staff after perfectly legally squeezing past the gate (as the estate in fact invited walkers to do), so do readers have any on-the-ground input about the whole Carn Mairg range generally? Seemingly the local tearooms and B&Bs were furious about the gate last year as it badly affected their trade, so it's important that a body of evidence is compiled to determine just what is happening here. If we allow one gate to go unchallenged, then - at risk of sounding like one of those anti-Microsoft campaigners - gates will be everywhere before we know it.
TAC 42 Index