TAC 43 Index
TAC would never of course give a moment's credence to weird conspiracy theories, but Peter Ridges of Prenton in Cheshire surely deserves a wider audience for having noticed an unlikely and somewhat mysterious connection between the Marilyns, the current wave of espionage disclosures and the secret service. 'As you may have read,' Peter writes, 'the Stasi agent at Hull University, Dr Robin Pearson, used the codename 'Armin', for reasons which are unfortunately still unclear. If I had an email address with a St Kilda reference, I'd be concerned about an MI5 investigation in the near future. Especially if I'd spent the 1980s working for a university. Even more so if I had set up a mailing list that discussed things like getting into military installations on top of remote Scottish islands...'.
So, Alan Blanco, are you feeling threatened? Phone-tapped? Compromised? Robin Pearson took as his pseudonym the name of one of the fearsome sea stack Marilyns, Stac an Armin, and Blanco has as his e-address email@example.com
People who live in houses called Askival, Seana Bhraigh and Suilven (all on TAC's mailing list) should also perhaps check their light fittings and skirting- boards for bugs. Expect more disclosures in TAC44. Mind you, while we're at it ... 'Peter Ridges'? What the hell kind of a name is that? Mine's a triple (agent).
Meanwhile TAC's website, lovingly revamped by Blanco himself, has won something called the Medaille d'Or for Web Site Excellence, http://www.arachnid.co.uk/award/award.html
Pole news. Kevin Donkin of Durham writes: 'I'm giving away a free, almost brand new, #30 in value, Leki pole. There is just one catch - the lucky winner has to find it first. I lost it in August on the eastern end of the Cairngorms and although I know its where-abouts and searched for about an hour (time I could ill-afford to waste on a long expedition), I couldn't find it. The area I lost it in is a mile-long stretch of the watershed heading from the summit cairn of Carn Eas towards the summit tor of Ben Avon along the line NO122992-NJ126008. If anyone finds it, they can keep it, but I wouldn't mind an email from them to let me know it's gone to a good home. A guy I met on top of Ben Avon told me he had lost his mobile phone on the hills a fortnight earlier.' firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed. - Could not the lost phone man not simply try phoning his number in the hope that someone might answer? Sounds like standard movie plot stuff, that, and it might prove to be the start of a beautiful friendship. As for poles, I have had a similar incident, contriving to lose half of the only pole I own. Basically the bottom half of the old-style two-piece pole snagged somewhere in a dense fire- break on Wishach Hill, which I was climbing to commemorate the 60th anniversary of James Parker's '1000 hills of 1000ft' completion in July 1939. This was such an esoteric anniversary on an extremely obscure (and largely tree-obscured) hill that I probably deserved to lose the eric-the-half-a-pole. With luck, an autumnal revisit will see it retrieved, but if this fails then Kevin Donkin's finders' keepers offer will doubtless be echoed in TAC44, complete with grid reference.
Oh, and in amongst all the recent discussion of the (de)merits of walking poles, the Ed would like to disclaim any responsibility for the bottom of the Leki homepage at http://www.leki.com/ where it reads: 'This website developed and hosted by TACWeb, a service of TAC Marketing, Inc.'
Scarcely an issue goes by without Ben Vrackie being mentioned somewhere, and this is no exception. Brian Ewing of Dumbarton reports having seen the summit goats in mid-September 1989, while almost ten years later, on 3/7/99, Stephen Ramsden of Helensburgh reached the top and so became the fourth person known to have completed a second round of Corbetts (after the late Matthew Moulton and Geraldine Howie, and Rhona Fraser). Stephen's first round, as recorded in Corbett Tops and Corbetteers, was completed on Monamenach, 30/7/93. This is all the more remarkable given that he has not climbed a single Corbett three times.
Although the two recent TACit Tables have included extensive lists of, and details on, Corbetteers, Grahamists and Donaldists, the book on these is by no means closed. In fact any non-Munro completion is always of interest - please contact TAC with, ideally, name and date of first hill and last hill plus any notable anecdotes or details of goat-encounters.
On the subject of lists and ticking and the mentality behind such, Stuart Benn, trendy raving bagger that he is, offers some crossover quotes from Energy Flash - A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture, by Simon Reynolds. The introduction includes this: 'What we must lose now is this insidious, corrosive knowingness, this need to collect and contain. We must open our brains that have been stopped and plugged with random information, and once again must our limbs carve in air the patterns of their desire - not the calibrated measures and slick syncopation of jazz-funk but a carnal music of total release. We must make of joy once more a crime against the state.'
Stuart wonders 'if there are parallels here with the bagging / going out for an enjoyable stroll debate (not that they are totally mutually exclusive)'. Also, on p73, Reynolds writes: 'There are other connections between football and pop music. Both are traditional escape routes for glory-hungry working-class jack- the-lads, and both offer possibilities for male bonding through shared passion for something 'objective' (and therefore legitimate). Football and rock also enable the cultivation of connoisseurship: facts, figures, changing line-ups, discographies. One medium for all this partisanship and pride-in-knowledge is the fanzine. Inevitably, zines emerged that combined both masculine passions.' That sounds like it ought to be of relevance in the general TAC world, too.
If all this sounds a little too laddish, don't fret. TAC44 plans to include some 250-word vox pops from women who bag - why they do it, is it at all different from the male version of the game, do they try to outdo bulging-eyed spouses, or what? Contributions welcome.
Car culture is far removed from the freedom of the hills, apart from our tendency to use personalised wheels to reach the start of walks. But personalised number plate culture is undoubtedly an odd way to assert one's territoriality or whatever the reasoning is. Hence much amusement at TAC HQ when the following flopped through the letterbox:
Dear Sir/Madam - As you can see we are dealers in distinctive number plates and feel that a number we have in stock should be brought to your attention. It is: A11 GRY. It will feature in our national advertising priced at #1,695, and can either be transferred to a car of your choice or be available on a Retention Certificate to be given as a present or kept for a future vehicle. Please feel free to contact one of our experienced sales team for more information and to answer any queries you may have.
Yours sincerely, Car Marks, PO Box 99, Hull
Professionals in all aspects of cherished numbers - Savour Success on a Plate
Any takers? #1,695 - a snip.
And finally, Bill Fairmaner of Birmingham writes to say that his Christmases tend to be spent in 'areas where there are rather more hills than in the West Midlands' - for example the central Highlands. Here, he says 'The Red Squirrel site [in Glen Coe] is the only place we've been asked to pay camping fees on Christmas Day'. Does anyone else have stories of having to pay to camp at Christmas - or, even more stingily, at New Year? Bill notes that happier traditions do exist: Milton Morenish 'let us camp on a wet Christmas Day even though they were officially closed. The offer to pay was firmly declined.'
TAC 43 Index