The Angry Corrie 12: Apr-May 1993

Wildlife Corner No. 2: The Goat

Which are the most dangerous animals in Scotland? The Glen Rosa and Glen Esk adders? The bellowing Blackmount stags in rut? The stupid sheep which insist on lying smackbang on the Glen Brittle road each and every night? The Larkhall Bears? - they're pretty toothless really. No, none of these. But your editor thinks he knows the answer. In fact he's sure he knows the answer.

Dateline 10/10/92. The TAC hierarchy, Perk and Murd themselves, ascend Ben Vrackie on a sparkling early winter's day. All well and good, with the bold twosome sitting tucked in beside the viewfinder munching lunches when - sghuyaarghyabassphmmphoomph!!! - they are set upon from behind by two fearsome, and extremely large, goats.

Are goats measured in hands, like horses? If so, these are quite a handful. Are their spirally horns offensive or defensive weapons? The former, most certainly. Do they have appettites so voracious, so eclectic, that they'll attack unprovoked merely to get at a plastic bag containing halfeaten samosas? Is John Paul II of the timmish persuasion?

On this occasion, the initial SAS-ness of the attack thwarted by adept use of skipoles and size 13 Scarpas, the slit-eyed, cochlearean-homed sheep-upgrades were seen off to a safe distance - well, at least as far as noising-up the next arriving summiteers. One of your editorial team was game for pushing the beasts over the crags, mad Colin Campbell style, until prevailed upon by his gentler brother.

But on the way down, on meeting a local-looking punter obviously on his 1437th ascent of the hill, the ruminative subject is broached again. "Oh them", he says, laughing. "yon white one's a bastard". So it appears they're there all or most of the time. No capricious Capricorns these. And no laughing matter either - for not everyone lives blithely in Glendarroch-Machair-Archersland amid mud and shit and glaur. Not everyone's au fait with the ways of wild beasts. Some of us live in the cities. Some of us are at only 0.35 - well, less than one anyway - with nature. Some of us are scared of goats.

Dateline 13/3/93. Chief TAC bossman again ascends Vrackie, although minus his Warbeckian sidekick who has sidled off to Cuba to learn how to open his legs and show some class. Not that this is a solo ascent. Erstwhile TAC writer Calum and three Hungarian architecture students comprise the party. Yes! - three Hungarian architecture students! But that's another story. Suffice it to say, in the nice little carpark at the bottom of the hill, one of Tomas, Pieter or Goorghi enquires, in broken English ten times better than your editor's utterly fragmented Magyar, "We will see wild animals on this mountain, yes?"

Well, we check with the first folk passed returning bedraggled from the summit. No, no goats, they report. So we make do with catching frogs on the spawny path up to Loch a'Choire. Then, on top, just when behorned quadrupeds had been forgotten, just when you thought it was safe to lie back and munch another well earned lunch...

They were just as bad this time, and even fought each other just for good measure. Calum's apple went the way of all food, as, almost, did Tomas's camera. But your editor was getting to the David Attenborough objective-analytical stage by now, and noted how the big bastard white billy one was bad not only to us but also to its slightly less big brownish nanny spouse. The latter tended to tag along sheepishly - goatishly? - as if in fear of getting a doing later that night while watching the Street.

Anyway, needless to say the Magyars loved it, made their day. They dashed excitedly about, repeatedly coming out with the Hungarian for "Fuck's sack, check the size of they things!" especially when the goats followed us down the screes a good 300m, presumably scouting for the next ascendees to ambush. (These transpired to be a lithe young man, two lithe young women and a wee yappy terrier-dog wearing a tartan collar. Didn't hold out much hope for the latter: one cloven kick and it would be pulped.) And thus your ed's first word of Magyar was learnt: ketcke = goat.

All of which begs a few questions. Like who are these goats? Where did they come f rom and who put them up there? Like do they have names? Ermintrude and Daisy? Mephistopheles and Vlad? Joan Claude and Arnie? Like why do they prowl the summit of Ben Vrackie terrorising benign hillwalkers when their time could be better spent running riot amongst the twee and tweedy denizens of Pitlochry below? Like how would Walt Poucher have described them? Ghastly guardians? Satanic sentinels? Like why hasn't any reader written of them before? Has no TAC fan climbed Vrackie in the last six months? Have they been scared or coerced into silence? Like I think we should be told...

TAC 12 Index