The Angry Corrie 12: Apr-May 1993

WALKING TYPES No. 4: The Reluctant Wife

She is trailing fifty yards or so behind her husband, who is romping on ahead with the rucksack for both of them. This husband wears a sort of eager, collie-dog expression, and isn't looking back as often as he maybe ought to. His eyes are on the ridge ahead as he passes you on the path. He hasn't been out for ages, you see, and he's keen to get on. "Morning," he says, all smiles, apparently unaware of the carnage behind him.

Here she comes, now. Her face is flushed, with blotchy red and pale patches on her throat and forehead, and you hope that she either doesn't know or doesn't care how her hair looks. She's walking with her hands on her hips, because it helps her get a deeper breath, and she's stopping frequently to look ahead. And up. She's not sure where they're going, really, because he didn't quite explain it properly, but she's sure it can't be that pile of rock and snow looming at the top of the corrie. Almost completely sure.

She's wearing a T-shirt, a pair of track-suit bottoms and some high-top trainers, if she's lucky. If she's not lucky, he's taken her out and bought her a pair of boots for her first walk, and the boots are now breaking in her feet. She's brought along a V-neck pullover, a nice cashmere job, in case it gets chilly, but she had to take it off as soon as they started to climb. She tied it round her waist, but it's fallen off into the mud twice already, and she can't catch up to get him to put it in the sack.

But she struggles on, because she knows it'll be worth it at the top. Apparently. He told her so, the last (and only) time they stopped, which was about an hour and a half ago. That was also when he said that the top wasn't much further at all, now.

As you pass, she gives you a sad, apologetic smile, but she doesn't have enough breath left to answer your Hello. She brushes her hair back from her face with a bare arm caked in mud, and thinks about where she's going to put her feet for the next step.

Grant Hutchison

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