Outdoor Stereotypes No. 2
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.
Labels: Outdoor Stereotypes