The Angry Corrie 52: Dec 2001 - Feb 2002
A site not worth seeing
"FANCY REVIEWING THIS for TAC?" came the Ed's innocent request. Commissions come thick and fast on the Warbeck email browser, but "this" was http://www.cameronmcneish.com/. TAC aficionados will be fully aware of the current war of nerves between the Ed and the "author, broadcaster, lecturer, walker and mountaineer Cameron McNeish" (description courtesy of the URL above). Your man here is happy to dive into many a TAC controversy and frequently starts them, but this particular one has already been well and truly writ large in the last TAC. I am sure the Ed is right, but is the walking world really holding its breath over whether CM has actually Corbetted out? And do I want dragged into it? I might never write for TGO...
I have, however, long enjoyed opining on the state of walking and climbing resources on the web - and so I grabbed the commission off its electronic spike and jumarred my copy of Netscape up into the heady air that is cameronmcneish.com. First impression: he's called it after himself. Second impression is the somewhat overdone description quoted here in para 1. I am reminded of C John Taylor, Seil Island's "poet/artist/composer".
But back to the eponymous domain name. It might be informative to ask: "How many other hill luminaries have such a statement of their importance?"
Has eponymous domain name
Has website but not eponymous
Don't got no website
(at least half of those are dead - Ed.)
So McNeish is in with some heavy players and might just suffer altitude sickness in that company. But we can forgive him his presumption if CM.com fulfils the oft-repeated Warbeck mantra for a hill-related website: photosvideoslinks, photosvideoslinks. (A "list of Munros in order of height" type site is occasionally needed, if only to check Gaelic spelling and not get chided by the Ed; but we know in advance that CM.com is not going to be one of those.)
Most of the guys in the above list are using their sites as electronic business cards, but it takes so little effort for them to take their postcards from the edge and bung them onsite that it would be unforgiveable for them not to. And, by and large, they do. Stevie Haston's site is scarily detailed if you are looking for poses to copy when climbing upside-down hanging by the last millimetre of an ice axe. And Bonington's is full of first-person accounts of his latest wanderings with multimedia accompaniment. (For example, just to pick something at random, Bonington provides four QTVRs, if you know what they are: two of the Himalaya and two of the Ponds.) Moran's is possibly the most commercially orientated site, but there is still the vicarious thrill of detailed pictorial records of his expeditions. There's also a guy called Alan Ingram who uses his site to attract trekkers - but that hasn't stopped him dumping megabytes' worth of gorgeous pictures on it.
"And CM.com...?", I hear you ask. Well, sadly all you really get is the electronic business card, exhaustive lists of the TV shows and books he's done, and adverts for his slideshows and motivational talks. "Regularly takes part in business seminars giving motivational talks on the re-creational [sic] benefits of countryside and wilderness. These talks include advice on isolation, stress relief, creating a personal haven and the necessity of scheduling quality time for planning, visualisation and self improvement."
"Self improvement", for crying out loud. Does he think he's Baden-Powell? Or "creating a personal haven" - don't you go to IKEA for that?
I started off this commission definitely not intending just to "diss him on the internet", as Destiny's Child would say (Ed, please note the non-seventies musical quote), cos it would have been too easy and too in-tune with the perceived TAC wisdom. And, after all, I've liked nearly all McNeish's TV shows, and his Munro calendar. But this website is wafer-thin. The sections in the frame menu are: Biog, Slide Shows, Shop, Bibliography and TGO ("The Only Magazine a Walker Needs"). So essentially it's all self-promotional.
Q: Would he give us a screensaver or slideshow like Prior or Baxter?
A: He's more likely to climb all the Corbetts.
Q: Would there be 23 links like Bonington's (including one to what might be considered a rival's site in the shape of Doug Scott)?
A: Two links only, both to orgs of which McNeish is an office bearer (Ramblers Scotland and the Backpackers' Club).
So one finds oneself dragged into the Ed's orbit of paranoia - that the nation's pre-eminent "outdoor commentator" is an egomaniac. Evidence? Absence of one reference point or link on CM.com, even one, that isn't to himself.