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Monday, August 29, 2011

Outdoor Stereotypes No. 2

The Traditionalist

cartoon of traditionalist character

Eric Trucklethwaite is a believer in tradition. Unmoved by modern affectations, he holds true to the principles of hillwalking instilled by his scoutmaster in 1953. Eric’s two concessions to modernity are the adoption of a fleece to replace his old sweater and a bulletproof three layer Gortex coat bought as present by his daughter in 1995. His knee breeches are relics from the sixties, as is his Tattersall check shirt and his solid, much re-soled tricouni nailed boots. Seated on ‘his’ stool in the Yorkshire village inn, he imparts his knowledge of the hills to anyone who cares to listen … and indeed some that don’t.

The tweed hat on his head is studded with badges attesting to his conquest of, or at least visit to, all the high points of the world. A tireless fund raiser for the local MRT and founder of “The Striders” walking club, Eric believes passionately in helping folk enjoy the local countryside, and for years his advice has been keenly sought and freely given.

But lately a shadow has been cast over Eric’s world. More and more the public bar is filled with young men and women whose talk is of tarps instead of tents, running shoes in place of boots, “going fast and light” as they put it. Eric is dismayed by their casual casting aside of traditional wisdom. The current fad for lightweight gear is anathema to all that he regards as sacrosanct. He knows, and advises them over every drink that he is bought, that there is only grief to be had from such folly.

Much vexed by youths bounding past him clad only in shorts and vest as he toils slowly up the hill, Eric derives grim satisfaction from reports in the Daily Mail of younger walkers coming to grief or suffering from exposure. “And all he had were a nylon cagoule and a pair of trainers - these people shouldn’t be allowed out!” exclaims Eric, before cataloguing the solid armoury of his own outdoor wardrobe.

As for electronic aids, Eric scoffs at them all, and recounts more anecdotes to illustrate the idiocy of those that use them. “Lost - because they hadn’t got a map and the phone battery had run out,” he barks, stabbing a finger at the newspaper. “The idiots were probably relying on Google Maps - or their satnav – what complete rubbish!” Such stories, true or not, reinforce his belief that the GPS receiver is the work of Beelzebub, and all those that carry them are witless nincompoops. “Solid map and compass work, that’s all you need.”

But sadly Eric’s skills are not what they once were. He is blissfully unaware that his wife, Eunice, has secretly purchased a GPS receiver.  Fed up with Eric’s ten mile rambles degenerating into twenty mile slogs over tussock and bog (entirely the fault of those twelve year old cartographers at the OS decimalising everything) Eunice gently and discreetly corrects Eric’s more catastrophic errors with gentle observations such as, “Oh, look Eric – isn’t that Schiehallion over there” and “Could that possibly be Loch Lyon?”

As Eric is fond of telling the youngsters in the pub, the traditional skills of his youth still stand him in good stead. “We’ve been out all day in mist and fog and the navigation was spot on, absolutely spot on, eh Eunice?  You lads wouldn’t know where to turn if your gadgets went on the blink, would you eh? And what if the Yanks turned off the signal, where would you be then?”

Eunice nods assent, smiles and quietly sips her half of Snecklifter.



Blogger Alan Sloman said...

Oh Jeez! Every now & then I find myself sliding into Trucklethwaite Territory...

I imagine that there will be quite a few of your readers, Phil, feeling slightly uneasy about this one...

Did I tell you that I wear those bright young things' plimmies now?

August 29, 2011 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

"Every now & then I find myself sliding into Trucklethwaite Territory..."

Me too! Miss W has already cast herself in the role of the long suffering Eunice.

August 29, 2011 at 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff! I reckon I've spotted a few Trucklethwaites in my wanders round Tinternet land :)

August 31, 2011 at 9:36 AM  
Anonymous GeoffC said...

They all have bloody beards as well.

August 31, 2011 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger OWDBUM said...

Hi,great post!
deluded u/l gear queens with more money than sense, next please. Ta!

August 31, 2011 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

The UL fetishist is coming up OB - all in good time ;-)

Beards and wee dogs too!

August 31, 2011 at 8:04 PM  
Blogger Andrew W said...

Another tour de force sir.
There will be people cringing on the message board after that one.
Heh. Heh!

August 31, 2011 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Mike Knipe said...

Have you been following me again, Lambert?

August 31, 2011 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger afootinthehills said...

You've set yourself a considerable task and here are a few more possibilities: The Fund Raiser (who arranges for hundreds of people to climb a hill in aid of footpath repair); The Eventer who simply can't do anything on the hill without it being an official outing (this may not endear you to your fellow Challengers though!); The Group Walkers, all trailing up the path disturbing the silence by talking loudly about everything except the scene around them, then monopolising the summit. The name 'Hazlitt' has passed them by. The first and last of these categories often overlap. I could go on but I'll leave it to you! All very funny.

September 1, 2011 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Aha. A couple I hadn't thought of there. Ta!

Hazlitt? Isn't that Meat Loaf's real name?

September 1, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever else you cover in this series I think you should avoid making fun of those who try to disguise a breather as an extended scan around through their binoculars.

There's nothing to be gained by holding us...sorry, I mean them, up to ridicule.

September 1, 2011 at 6:20 PM  

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