For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Be Gentle With Me

Anyone catch the Wainwright prgramme on BBC2 last night? Now I know that the Pictorial Guides are a dedicated labour of love, the product of a 12 year obsession. I own many of them myself and they are well-thumbed. They're a perfect shape and a perfect size and easy to carry onto the hill (though they are difficult to decipher at twilight in a tent without a strong torch and magnifying glass). I'm aware they were all hand drawn and hand written with exquisite draughtsmanship and that they're full of very skilled pen-and-ink illustrations of netsuke proportions and brimming with coy humour about women's legs. I'm full of admiration for the fact that there's nothing like them in publishing, that nothing will ever match them, that they've stood the test of time for over 50 years and sold over a million copies - or is it two million? But (and you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?) I'm afraid I just can't warm to them or to Wainwright, the old curmudgeon. This is sacrilege, I know - it's heaving these days at Innominate Tarn as walkers practically queue to scrunch over his ashes. I may have to duck now, and de-blog a while, to avoid the flak from the huge and zealous AW fan club. But blogs are all about honestly expressed ( self-opinionated?!) views, right..? Look, I respect him (though I do think there's more than a hint of vanity under that beguiling patina of shy modesty) - nay, admire him, and his unique series of books. But, to be honest, if I want to sit down of an evening and read about Lakeland, I'd much rather pick up A. Harry Griffin...

4 comments:

John Hee said...

Horses for courses. AW was the first to put it together so well, but as a describer of the landscape there's others, Griffin or Poucher for instance, that get the message over better.

And yes he was a grumpy old bugger by reputation, but I'd love to know how much of that was bluff
;-)

John Hee said...

Horses for courses. AW was the first to put it together so well, but as a describer of the landscape there's others, Griffin or Poucher for instance, that get the message over better.

And yes he was a grumpy old bugger by reputation, but I'd love to know how much of that was bluff
;-)

John Hee said...

thats weird -double posted after refusing to accept the userid/password

-sorry

The Solitary Walker said...

Triple post now..! Succinct and spot-on, as usual. Was publishing new post the very moment you posted, so it probably clogged Blogger's brain or whatever the correct IT expression is. Re-reading my AW post, think I'm turning into a Grumpy Old Man myself!