We were phoned today by one of the many well-wishers who keep us informed. They had seen online a post — please refer here to the estimable blog To Hatch a Crow* (whose editor seems always to have his finger on the pulse!) — which they thought might be of interest: and indeed, so it was. We contacted him, the author of the critical piece: ‘Touching the Void — When Writers Lose the Plot!’, which he had posted on the 10/07/2018. Very kindly he gave us permission to quote him and we will do so, but to begin with we would like to give something of the background.
* * * * *
On the 24/04/2005 ‘Llywarch’ posted his review on Amazon of Joe Simpson’s extraordinary book Touching the Void. (It was one of 370 reviews with a showing of 4.5 out of 5 stars.) He gave it a paltry two stars and short shrift. There followed two comments — although strangely they were posted later, in 2014, after a gap of nine years. Here is ‘Llywarch’s’ (JP?) review (with his favoured ‘psychology’):
‘Interesting subliminal basis behind all the hype: the severed cord, the struggle out of the crevasse, the crying in the night, the welcoming arms at the end of the long struggle. But please, doesn’t all that crawling — and our identification with it — infantilise us just a little? As for Simpson’s other titles, when can we anticipate the Deep Gloom Lifting?’And here are the comments, both posted in 2014: the first by ‘Exile’, the second, in response, by Bryn Griffith:
1) ‘I have a feeling that reviews under the name ”Llywarch” are written by Jim Perrin. Pity he can’t own up to it. Look at his reviews of Perrin’s books. They are all five star. ”Touching the Void” was the book that brought me to reading mountain literature, and clearly deserves more than two stars. It is readable and exciting, with a moral dilemma at its heart. The book doesn’t have the verbosity of a writer like Jim Perrin, and is less dense in its prose, but it has a very wide appeal, even outside the climbing community. Maybe it’s this broad appeal that ”Llywarch” hates so much.’
2) ‘Personally, I loved Perrin’s book ”Travels with the Flea” (or something titled very similar), but you have to distrust someone who can’t review under his real name.’
The fact that ‘Exile’ is using the name ‘Llywarch’ in his comment, and not ‘Tim Bartley’ (to which it was changed later), shows, as we have been saying, that a degree of skulduggery was used by the originator of the review — to switch the names in an attempt to avoid detection. And the switch was made after many of our posts drew attention to Jim Perrin’s use of the name ‘Llywarch’… ‘Who else but HE [Jim Perrin] would care, or would be sufficiently interested, or would have the motive.’ (This is a quote we frequently use, of a question once posed by Jac’s ‘Yorkshire’ sister… )
* * * * *
‘Llywarch’s’ review was one of sixteen posted using that name (this, the first, was in 2005) and since we began to write about the likelihood and, as time passed, the strongest probability, that it was an alias used by Jim Perrin, we posted several titles with our suspicions — including various examples of the coincidences which we felt proved our point. So emphatic were we that we believe he came to realise he was under scrutiny such as he had not before experienced — having busily been puffing his own work for years, never being challenged and always with the ubiquitous five stars (as ‘Exile’ also pointed out); and apart from the occasional flattering review of a book by someone with whom he wished to ingratiate himself he blatantly murdered the work and literary reputations of others.
Finally, he gave up the use of ‘Llywarch’: he converted all the reviews written under that name going back to 2015, as we described above, and changed them by wizardry (or by being internet-savvy) to ‘Tim Bartley’. With one exception his reviews were word for word identical.
That exception was his fulsome review of his own book Shipton and Tilman. The first draft was deleted and replaced with one with even more hyperbole — if that were possible. It would seem the main reason for the change, (apart from taking to task the reviewers who were less than admiring), was to include the details of a literary award he had recently been awarded — one which up to that point had received hardly any recognition! Of course the first review has now disappeared, but ‘we have kept a printout’;** and his responses to adverse criticism by Bob Comlay (who knew HW Tilman well and had sailed with him) were a study and can be seen in our post ‘Llywarch’s poisoned pen.’*** It has been noted that since his last review — as ‘Llywarch’/’Tim Bartley’, 12/11/2013 — of Harriet Tuckey’s wonderful biography of her father, Everest: the First Ascent — no further reviews have been posted by this author… We believe Jim Perrin was the author and that he has now refrained from the ‘review game’, (using aliases at least) given the bright beam of the spotlight focused on him.
* * * * *
But now Jim Perrin has ‘come out’ and was recently to be found on facebook we are told, writing under his own name (heavens!) — and positively and scandalously libelling Joe Simpson, the victim of his old review of 24/04/2005. The author of the blog which features this facebook entry writes:
‘I have to say that this writer [himself] has absolutely no doubts about the veracity of Joe Simpson’s remarkable story. However, it just goes to prove that even in the sober world of mountain literature, conspiracy theorists abound.’
We think he is being too kind; too measured. It is our own experience that Jim Perrin will stop at nothing to damage the reputations of people whom he wishes to hurt and without shame or conscience will stoop to the lie direct. His accusations are risible. Who is this ‘putative’ orthopaedic surgeon friend? We suspect him to be a figment of his imagination. And are there ‘many in the mountaineering world who have grave doubts’? We doubt the truth of that statement. Was Jim Perrin ever the editor of ‘High’, as he implied when he wrote ‘When I was editing ‘High’ magazine.’? That apart, and with respect to To Hatch a Crow, we don’t believe that what Jim Perrin has written can possibly be associated with ‘conspiracy theorists’, though it is clear he was ruthlessly attempting an assassination — that of Joe Simpson’s integrity and reputation.
It is our view that he was up to his old tricks of self-aggrandisement: ‘he really knows’, it might be thought… He is, as he loves to be, the centre of attention with his unsavoury insinuations, and his motive in that facebook entry was surely pure malice. He has shown himself again, by his own words, to be thoroughly unpleasant. As we were once told: ‘Jim Perrin is a nasty piece of work’. There can be no question that his entry was not based on evidence (that is, genuine evidence) but instead, entirely on his jealousy and perverse imaginings; his use of lies and innuendo is now well documented on our site, and we feel sure that his weasel words will rebound, and harm him infinitely more than the harm he has attempted to direct towards Joe Simpson — by miles the more popular author — and one who will be left quite unscathed by Jim Perrin’s malevolence.
For all the details of the blog featured in this post & printouts from facebook, please go to the first link highlighted below.
** ‘Guardian ‘Country Diarist’ Jim Perrin (alias ‘Llywarch’ — alias ‘Tim Bartley’) reviews his own work.’
*** ‘Llywarch’s poisoned pen.’
The three extra titles which follow are also relevant to this post:
1) ‘To review, or not to review, that is the question:’
2) ‘Jac’s sisters absolutely believe that ‘Llywarch’ IS Jim Perrin.’
3) ‘Jim Curran v Jim Perrin (part 6 of 6).’
NB. A comment following the post we have been discussing, (on To Hatch a Crow), reads: ‘V little Perrin says or writes has validity as he is fuelled by jealousy and envy of others, esp. in the fields of writing/climbing or combined. The extent of his fury towards the achievements of others is staggering. He can’t let the achievements of others stand for what they are. I’d like to see how he’d survive down a gap in a Peruvian mountain.’ (‘Gritstone’, 23/08/2018.)
PS. Later, 24/09/2018. Today we were speaking with someone who gave us their opinion that ‘Jim Perrin is deluded, and living in a parallel universe where the rules, morals and ethics of this world do not apply… ‘