TAC 44 Index
It's been a long time, four years in fact, since we've had one of these, but now seems as good a time as any.
1 Rugby types, rather disingenuously, like to call their game "rugby football". Football is another game altogether whose name they are trying to steal; the game of rugby only rarely involves the foot hitting what isn't really a ball by any accepted definition. When it does happen, the one player capable of kicking the ball usually kicks it out of the field of play. There is no other game, not even the ludicrous "American football" where such a premium is placed on directing the ball out of play.
Hillwalking does not steal anyone else's name, resisting all temptation to style itself "scuba hillwalking" or "bowls hillwalking", but confines itself to an admittedly prosaic descriptive simplicity. Nor does the walker get kicked out of the field of play, apart from in the stalking season of course.
2 Rugby is a microcosm of the capitalist system. The backs, a cherry-picking dilettantish elite, lounge around until ready to profit from the labours of the lumpen underclass. The forwards suffer most of the physical abuse the "game" metes out. The backs are usually professionals or officer class MOD types and the forwards horny-handed sons of the soil.
Hillwalking is the most egalitarian of pursuits, with every member of a typical party brandishing their own map and compass and claiming to know the way.
3 Rugby has Princess Anne for a patron saint.
Hillwalking has Walter Poucher.
4 Rugby has a great tradition of community singing. The songs major on deviant sexual practices and feature juvenile stereotypes of blacksmiths, sailors, chambermaids etc. They are usually sung with trousers round the ankles and sick down the jumper.
Hillwalking has a great tradition of community singing. The songs major on the rowan tree, Loch Maree, Bonnie Mary o' Argyll etc. They are usually sung with the trousers tucked into a thick pair of woolly socks.
5 Rugby is basically what at school we called a "piley on", but with more brutality allowed.
Hillwalking is basically what at school we called hillwalking.
6 Scotland has produced some world-class hillwalkers: Tom Weir, Hamish Brown, Muriel Gray etc.
Scotland has produced about two rugby players who might just sneak into a world third eleven. (World third fifteen, surely? - Ed.)
7 The captain of England's rugby team was seen poncing around Chelsea's Harbour Gym with Lady Di.
The captain of England's hillwalking team, should such a post exist, would have been A Wainwright - who would have no more been seen in a "gym" than jumping about to Carl Cox in a new fangled "rave".
8 Hillwalkers tend to lunch on sandwiches and the odd Mars Bar.
Rugby types tend to lunch on the tailgate of a Range Rover parked in the Murrayfield car park. They eat pheasants and quails' eggs out of a Jenner's hamper.
9 Hillwalking gets almost no TV coverage unless you count Jimmy McGregor's jaunts.
Rugby has massive media coverage even though only 5,000 people turn up to vital World Cup ties.
10 Hillwalking was never one of the British institutions most likely to give succour to apartheid.
11 Hillwalkers tend not to be nicknamed after comic animals, eg wallabies, kiwis, springboks. Who has ever seen a kiwi?
12 Rugby has thrown up the minimally talented entertainer Max Boyce - said by many to be the Welsh Jimmy Krankie.
Hillwalking has thrown up the highly talented entertainer Jimmy McGregor - said by many to be the Scottish Paul Simon.
13 Rugby has just finished its so-called World Cup, which can no more claim world representation than can the baseball World Series. It is confined to two types of nation - those with more sheep than people and those within 20 miles of the Date Line.
Hillwalkers, as TAC readers will know, have no truck with sheep and as Phil Stacey pointed out ("10 reasons why hillwalking is a pish idea", TAC6) are relatively unlikely to get a date. Moreover, since every nation in the world bar Holland and Albion has hills and walkers, hillwalking has the greatest representation imaginable.
14 Rugby is punctuated by whistle blasts announcing penalties. Or, rather, a string of penalties is occasionally punctuated by rugby. It is important that no-one should know why a penalty has been given, although it is never for the eye-gouging and stomping seen by everyone bar the ref.
The only time you would hear whistle blasts during hillwalking would be the rather unlikely scenario whereby you were in trouble. Should that happen you will be rescued by the hardy and selfless souls who make up MRTs or SARDA. These people will not accuse you of "knocking on" or "blind-side flanking" whatever that is if it is not rhyming slang.
15 The cathedral of dreams for rugby is Murrayfield, a ground outshone by the magnificent Tynecastle Stadium and built by debentures from the ill-gotten gains of financial types in Charlotte Square.
The cathedral of dreams of hillwalking is Glen Coe, built by glaciers and outshone possibly only by Yosemite, California or Torres del Paine in Patagonia.
16 If the recent attendances at World Cup matches can be used as data, rugby fans appear to be willing to go out and watch their sport about twice a season.
Hillwalkers insist on taking part in their sport even if the rain is horizontal and the visibility is zero.
17 Rugby types are often referred to as "rugger buggers"; hillwalkers often as "baggers". These words sound very similar and in fact their alliterative conjunction is used in every issue of TAC.
A bagger is someone who can metaphorically be seen as popping summits into a bag. A bugger on the other hand is someone who (don't go there - Ed.)
18 At some point rugby was riven by a mighty schism which sundered it acrimoniously into Union vs League.
Hillwalkers on the other hand smile cheerily every time they meet and are unified by a love of the outdoors and all God's fauna. The only schism is between those who think you should leave a note on your dashboard and those who don't.
19 The most infamous incident in rugby occurred when the British Lions were touring South Africa and would shout "99" and then beat up their nearest opponent.
Hillwalkers on the other hand shout "914" or "284" and bore their nearest opponent with lists.
20 Scotland's voice of rugby is one John Beattie, an unathletic fleshy character so un-erudite that he recently opined, in the Herald, "Anyone who can spell every word right, correct ... must have wasted a life". Beattie is also the creator of the rather interesting metaphor "We must unlock the key".
The voice of hillwalking in Scotland is undoubtedly the editor of this organ Mr Dave Hewitt (no it bloody isn't - Ed.), a wiry hill tiger with metaphors in every rucksack pocket. A man so erudite his prose is sprinkled with references to Chomsky, Hemingway and Archie Hind. He doesn't even use the spell-checker on his trusty old 486.
21 If you ask a hillwalker on a Monday morning about the hill they climbed at the weekend, they will tend to dwell on the view from the summit, or the mighty clearance in the weather on the way down. They will probably not claim that the real experience was in the clubhouse afterwards.
22 Your average modern rugby player is a hulking brute whose head disappears directly into his shoulders without the intervention of anything so girly as a neck. To avoid having his ears bitten off, he tapes them to his head. His myocardium is dangerously enlarged to get blood to the ludicrous expanse of tissue. He is liable to die in his fifties from cardiomegaly as a result.
Your hillwalker is a lithe individual keen of eye, willowy of frame, with ears covered by nothing more eccentric than a balaclava. Their myocardium is lean and efficient and they will live to an advanced age - look at Jimmy McGregor. (That's enough about Jimmy McGregor, people will start to talk - Ed.)
23 Rugby types spend their lives in a welter of apologetics about the rules. When Will Carling's team won everything for years by a most unenterprising blend of piley-ons and Rob Andrew's kicking, the fans were never done insisting that the merest quantum shift in the rules would restore the game to the artistry of Barry John and JPR.
Hillwalking requires few rules. Don't eat the yellow snow. Don't attempt to descend the Aggy Ridge before the end. Never trust the compass in the Cuillin. Bright too soon rain by noon. Check with the factor in the stalking season. Always leave a note on the dashboard. (And that's enough rules - Ed.)
TAC 44 Index