Retro Roamer

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The Roamer column was the highlight of a Thursday for many Lochaber readers so he has returned with a timely look back at the events and people that made it into his columns in the mid 1980s.

* There was I, minding my own business, walking along the east end of the High Street under the Hielan’man’s Umbrella. An eager Southron visitor approached me, pointed across to the Cow Hill and asked ‘Is that Ben Neevis up there?’ And, yes, he did pronounce it as ‘Neevis’. I forget how I answered him – but it would have been in detail!

* ‘Does everyone like curry?’ asked the Boys Brigade’s alfresco chef on the recent visit to Dudley. Several hands went up, while a few more of the boys thought they might like to try some. So the chef – a Cameron, no less – busied himself by emptying into the huge cooking pot all the various foodstuffs he couldn’t get the youngsters to eat a day or two before. And everyone enjoyed the Cameron Curry, without chips, which goes to prove a couple of culinary points.

* An American couple were in Templeton’s studying the shelves of biscuits, having decided to let the calories look after themselves. Bypassing Abernethy they asked a local housewife, ‘Say, are these Bourbon Creams whisky flavoured?’ Came the reply: ‘Well, if they are, you don’t make very strong whisky in the States.’

* The Banavie picnic area has caved in. A big hole has appeared in the middle of it and around £2,500 will be required to return the sinkhole site to its normal unused condition. One Crown Cottage resident observed: ‘What picnic area?’

* A circular received last week by one of Lochaber’s government branch offices concerned ‘a local troll of board and lodgings’. Since training operations play a large part in the government service hereabouts, this caused a great deal of mirth among staff members, vying with one another to see who could produce likely-looking ‘Lochaber Trolls’ to act as landlords and landladies. Aye, a very drawl trawl!

* How about the safety officer in one of our august local bodies, who was on the point of gaining some light relief in the first floor toilets of his new office block when he realised that the blinds, which screened the toilets from the outside world, were not drawn. So our hero fiddled with the blinds and contrived to pull them down on himself, injuring his hand! If you see a professional gentleman with a white bandage on his hand, and a somewhat red face, you’ll know what happened.

* A cattle trailer was being towed away from the auction mart on Friday – with a large cow inside it. Presumably unbeknown to the driver, the floorboards of the float were rotten which meant the poor animal had two hooves in the trailer and two through the floor on the road. It may have sounded funny to hear of the vehicle and trailer being partly propelled by ‘cow-power’ but it was a bit hard on the cow. Fortunately the float didn’t get farther than the level crossing before the driver realised something was amiss.

* At the next sale, a Corpach worthy bought a roof rack. He then drove home, across the road, and returned with a trailer onto which he loaded – the roof rack.

* A hirsute person, from out of town,  in dock at the Sheriff Court told the Procurator Fiscal he hadn’t replied to a summons because there was no stamped addressed envelope enclosed with it.

* I was just thinking at the match at Claggan Park on Saturday that the Fort have come a long way since the amateur days when Pasha & Co used to take the field at the Town Park with two large paperbacks wedged into their socks – as shinguards. Mind you, it would be interesting to see a computerised, simulated match between Argyll Rovers and Fort William FC  – because the Rovers could certainly play a bit.

* The continuing wet weather is having strange side effects. Take the case of the fella who ‘lives up the hill’, for example. He went to lock his front door the other night and, hopping along the lobby to meet him, was a frog! It’s not often you find one of them on the carpet, but it was duly – and gently – frog marched out the front door.

* Meanwhile a 999 call to Fort William advised that a tortoise was on the loose in Caol’s Kilmallie Road! A squad car was despatched immediately to locate it and deny it a quick getaway.

* It’s the all-weather centre again. It seems it is likely to become a non-purpose-designed tourist information office. In keeping with that famous ‘original concept’, the two cinemas will be located upstairs, seating 110 and 60 respectively. I still maintain this came about as a result of someone confusing the white elephant’s wiring diagram which read ‘110 volts/60 cycles’.

* Leading officials of a certain Lochaber organisation were invited to a posh ‘do’ in Aberdeen. Off they set with their dinner suits and patent shoes. On arrival they said: ‘Good evening, we’re from Fort William and we’re here for the annual dinner.’ The receptionist looked at the Highland visitors and said: ‘Good evening to you, too. But you’re a day too early. That function’s not till tomorrow night.’

  • That same weekend a local hotelier went into an erstwhile colleague’s hotel for lunch. In the bar, after despatching his gin and tonic, he was invited to take a seat at table in the dining room. Then he was advised that he couldn’t order a meal from that particular table – as it didn’t have a number. Somewhat popped, he exited the dining room with the words: ‘I came here for lunch, not for a raffle!’

* A great turnout to say ‘cheerio’ to Jack Kennedy who is taking his leave of the Volley after having been called to the bar these past 17 years. It was standing room only – right out onto the street – for his farewell weekend appearance.

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