Retro Roamer

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More mid-1980s murmurings from Roamer

  • I hear there’s a likelihood of night classes starting at Lochaber High School to teach high finance to some of us locals. This means we’ll be able to co-ordinate the insertion of our cards while pressing the correct buttons on 24-hour cash dispensers. Hope I’m in the front of the queue.
  • The glory hole in the High Street provided a rare local talking point at the weekend. An early morning warning indicator it was, prior to the advent of pedestrianisation. But spare a thought for the hardy workmen who have had to dig up the street in freezing ‘spring’ temperatures. One of them even got icicles on his moustache.
  • Then there was the railway guard’s van which began its new career as a dressing room for our young rugby players and footballers at the weekend. As it was being craned into the adjacent Black Parks, the van broke in two. No problem. It will now double as home and away dressing rooms.
  • The colour of the drain pipes in Claggan! ‘Rhone Blue’, I’m told. Surely this must just be the undercoat? At the moment the pipes look out of place on the walls of the modernised houses. A nice shade of maroon would tone in much better.
  • The sartorial elegance of the four male Labour members of Lochaber District Council (LDC) at last week’s meeting was something to behold. And their tonsorial styling was reminiscent of the Beach Boys. I was expecting to hear them crooning for the benefit of the council chambers tape recorder. This could really catch on, you know. Councillors in Concert. On cassette with up-to-date videos shot in the chambers. Starring roles ‘in camera’ for LDC elected members. It would certainly be more acceptable than hearing them ask for their ‘dissent to be recorded’.
  • It was like a ceilidh in Winksy Kennedy’s shop last Thursday. BBC Highland requests were on the wireless and Wee Donald and a calliach in from the country were going the Gaelic at the same time . Just then a local mum and her wee lassie came in to buy sugar-coated almonds and the record changed to Postman Pat. ‘Oh! It’s good here’, said the wee one delightedly. ‘They’re playing my favourite song!
  • Here’s a poem received from Mallaig in response to the Lochaber District Council circular asking tenants not to keep animals, hens, pigeons or seagulls in the vicinity of their homes – without local authority consent. It’s called Mutton Mutterings:

Ol’ Doggie, I’m grieving, to see you relieving
Yourself on my village so clean.
The cats they don’t matter; the seagulls they scatter
Their dirt on the rocks all unseen.

The binmen are sweating, the council is fretting,
‘Keep Mallaig tidy’, they say –
‘If your pets don’t repent, they all will be sent
To another place – far, far away’.

Council tenants are lawful; the penalties awful,
But their pets one or two want to keep.
My bin is all battered, the pavement is scattered
With the mess of these horrible SHEEP!

So, let’s just be fair, who put the sheep there?
‘They were here before you!’, crofters scoff.
But I don’t agree – if you look you will see
‘Twas the sheep drove all our forebears off.

Now please, LDC, be sensible with our plea
And let’s have a fence six feet deep.
Send your officials with klaxons and whistles
In your efforts to rid us of sheep.

  • The local polis are intent on keeping fit. But there appear to be some strange side effects. At five-a-side football, for example, a PC from down Ballachulish way accidentally kicked the surrounding wall of the pitch and is now nursing a badly-bruised foot. Another, from Fort William, has torn ligaments and a colleague has pulled a muscle. Dominoes and pool might provide a safer option for the policemen’s lot.
  • What did he do, late at night, with the rain persisting down on the High Street? He took a taxi home. But the driver of the taxi wasn’t in it at the time! This caused much gnashing of teeth till the taxi turned up safe and sound in Upper Achintore. And the taxi-jacker didn’t even leave a tip!
  • I’m often accused of making up some of the stories which appear in the Roamer column. Continuing on the taxi theme, you can draw your own conclusions on this one. A fairly rumbustious trio of young locals had been disporting themselves at the disco. On their way out, heading for a late night party, they removed a wax model of a female from the premises. ‘She’ was elaborately dressed and sporting a blonde wig. The men ‘helped’ her into a back seat of the taxi and sat her between two of the trio. Off to the Higher Reaches they went and on arrival at the requested destination the three likely lads got out. One of them said to the driver, ‘The girl in the back isn’t coming to the party. Will you take her to —— Place? And she’s paying’. Off to ——Place, then. After a longish interval, and no movement from the back seat, nothing for it but for the taxi driver to get out and open the back door. And out into his arms fell – a Dumb Blonde
  • Here’s a fishy tale from Lochaber. To protect the innocent I’ll describe the characters involved as ‘D’ and ‘A’. Out onto a sea loch in a rowing boat went they, taking with them a certain amount of ‘the morning after the night before syndrome’. ‘A’, in particular, was affected by the motion of the boat. As a result he put his head over the side – resulting in his false teeth going overboard. ‘D’, humorous fellow that he is, took out his own wallies, secured them to a hook on his line, and dropped them into the water. After commiserating with ‘A’, he yelled, ‘I’ve got a bite’!, and proceeded to reel in his false teeth. ‘A’ looked at him as if he was Angler of the Year, and a miracle worker to boot. Thanking ‘D’ profusely he shoved the salty falsers into his mouth. ‘They don’t fit. They can’t be mine’!, he cried, disconsolately. And threw the wallies back in.

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