Cover price £2.50 (issue 01, spring 2005), £2 (issue 02, summer 2005), but available free to the halt and the lame in doctors' surgeries throughout Scotland
68pp. Issue 03 due out 15 October. http://www.walk-wise.co.uk/
READERS WHO EXPECT the rigorous analysis and Solomonic judgement for which TAC reviews are renowned should perhaps flip to another page and read about what's new in the world of trig point bracket construction or whatever, for the reviewer confesses he is not in the sunniest frame of mind at present, having recently been diagnosed as suffering from a distressingly painful and embarrassing condition. Readers are invited in advance to forgive any lapses of patience with, or interest in, the subject of the review.
Doubtless in some sort of karmic repayment for previous hatchet-jobs, I first encountered Walkwise while immobilised with gout. Gout is a real bastard: like haemorrhoids, it's exquisitely painful, but it's also a comedy illness. When it was diagnosed, I half-expected a double-act routine to ensue: I can't believe it's gout, doctor, I'd like a second opinion; Very well, I don't think much of your tie either. And, what's more, you get little sympathy: everybody presumes gout is self-inflicted, the result of quaffing port and pursuing the lifestyle of a 16th-century monarch. Thus when I read the first words of the Walkwise editorial, entitled "Healthy living through your feet", I hurled the magazine across the waiting-room - and not, for once, only because it had been written by what its website describes as the "Executive Editor", Cameron McNeish.
But, you may ask, isn't Cameron already editor of a walking mag? Is he moonlighting on a competitor? Won't his employers be a tad upset? Well, no, for Walkwise is published by Mr McNeish's employers, Newsquest. In a remarkable sweetheart deal, Walkwise is produced by TGO's owners on behalf of the Scottish Executive's Healthy Living campaign, and is supported by an advertising budget of £150,000. On the face of it, it appears strange that Newsquest would produce a walking mag that undercuts its own product: but, cleverly, they have produced such a dried turd of a publication that it makes even TGO look good. And the public purse pays them to do it.
Walkwise is basically a government health warning masquerading as journalism. The first issue featured real-life stories along the lines of "I was a slave to [doubtless expensive] prescription painkillers and anti-depressants until I discovered the Scottish Executive's Healthy Living Network". By issue two, however, real people had been replaced by the celebrity interview: step forward renowned walker Carol Smillie! Lovely Carol looks so supernal and ethereal on the cover that when you at last tear your gaze away and open the magazine, it's difficult to believe that the familiar burst-haggis face within belongs to the same species as she. Indeed, with extraordinary humility, Carol recognizes that she is a wee bit special. Referring to the ordinary punters she encountered on the ITV show The People's Court, she notes: "It's quite nice to walk away from it all - get a nice big walk and some fresh air and think thank God I'm not on the same planet as them."
Carol tells us that on her visits to her earthly home in Glasgow, she likes to stroll in Pollok Park. We hope and pray she does not leave its security for Walkwise's suggested route from Kelvinbridge Underground to Maryhill, which claims: "straight away you'll probably notice the musky scent of the foxes which thrive in this woodland corridor." Foxes my arse: Carol should be warned that the musky scent of the Kelvin Walkway is in fact stale urine, the micturations of Buckfast-sodden West End dossers.
Carol does however solve a conundrum: what does Walkwise actually mean? Does walking bring wisdom, in a John Muir / Forrest Gump way? Or is it somehow wise to walk, even through musky Maryhill? Carol clears the issue up, when she says of her new job on daytime TV: "It'll mean me having to travel a lot more but it will only be for a couple of days a week and I'm sure I'll make up for it, walkwise, once I get back home again".
So now we know - it's supposed to be some sort of ghastly transatlantic adverb. But have you heard anyone other than Carol use such an expression? I haven't. Could it be that there's a wee touch of the Gilligans about that quote? I'm not saying it's been made up or anything: just that Ms Smillie is clearly the dream interviewee, who will helpfully provide a neat closing which includes a gratuitous mention-cum-endorsement of the publication.
In truth, Walkwise doesn't really mean anything at all, being simply a convenient alliterative jingle. And I suspect here the hand of the Executive Editor, who has previous in regard to duplication of the letter W (viz: Wilderness Walks; Wilderness World). So what next then, for Cameron Dubya Dubya McNeish? Perhaps he will executively edit further Scottish Executive public health magazines? Maybe Williewise (on the dangers of unprotected sex), or perhaps Whiskywise (the dangers of alcohol), or even Watsonwise (the dangers of playing with matches)?
But already this bilabial semivowel thing seems to be spreading: Walkwise features, among its many health-nazi plugs, a piece about Weightwise, an organization which encourages us to eat bananas while climbing stairs. Wearisomely, this also appears in the form w8wise. Two questions: (i) Shouldn't this be w8ys or w8yz? And (ii) Do the arses who come up with this faux-texting stuff really think that it's "down with the kids"? 4cough, I say.
Ed. - In a grim example of life imitating art, the Maryhill stretch of the Kelvin was the scene on 7 Oct - just before TAC went to press - of the broad-daylight murder of Farah Noor Adams, a 34-year-old woman out "power walking". It was the kind of incident that walking-route magazine staff must dread, and one that - in the worst possible way - reinforces Gordon Smith's point about such places tending to be prettified in print. Be careful out there: there might well be musky foxes about, but there are maniacs too.
TAC 66 Index