Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Meeting Hamish Brown

Sandstone Press, publishers of my book The Weekend Fix, have now released it as an e-book. To celebrate, and to take a publicity shot for the slightly more newsworthy event of Hamish Brown's Hamish's Mountain Walk being republished, Sandstone impressario Bob Davidson, North of England salesman James Benson, and I convened at Hamish's house in Burntisland for a photo:

Three of these people have done all the Munros. The other has done all the Munros... seven times:

It was great to spend the afternoon in their company, and not just because it meant a half day at work! I was that excited about meeting Hamish that I had to tell my work colleagues. "Who's he?" they'd asked in pure ignorance. "Have you heard of Tom Weir? Aye?" I said. "Well, he's up there with Tom Weir, and Weir's dead!" Consider the competition in the hill-writing world. Borthwick, WH Murray, Weir, Wainwright, Butterfield are all gone. There's Adam Watson, but he's more of a naturalist than a hillwalker. Dave Brown and Ian R. Mitchell co-wrote the stone-cold classic Mountain Days and Bothy Nights, and Campbell Steven wrote Enjoying Scotland, but that is just one book - Hamish has written Climbing the Corbetts, the Groats End Walk and The Last Hundred, books on mountain poetry, as well as guides to Morrocco and numerous other articles.

There's Andy Wightman and Jim Crumley and Dave Hewitt, but I think it would be fair to say that Hamish Brown is the greatest writer of the hills alive in this country. So you can understand my excitement.

However Hamish doesn't have the airs and graces of a big star. A bowl of soup at his house, outside for a photo, and back in for a cup of tea and a chat. My head is now spinning with new book ideas. A Children's History of Britain, that I am writing purely for my own amusement, now starts:
You might as well realise now – for it is the most important fact about history – that the past is not fixed in stone. “But,” you say, “facts are facts, what happened happened, and all we need do is record it!” The naivety of youth! History is much more than mere fact: it is a mixture of myth, prejudice and interpretation, re-written by every generation in its own hand. If history were a body, it would have a skeleton of fact, animated by sinews of supposition, and fleshed out with big meaty lies...

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