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* The Scottish Office’s delaying tactics regarding Aonach Mor seem to be never ending. It is coming up for a year since a decision was ‘imminent’. Meanwhile, STV continues to advise that the £7 million ski project on RANNOCH MOOR is in the balance! Shades of the old days on Fort William High Street when Duncan Grant would send us youngsters across from Marshall’s to MacLeod’s shop for ‘The Big Weight’. Meanwhile John MacLeod was despatching another young group over to the garage for ‘The Long Stand’.

* Bet you got a shock when you tried the Lochaber District Council number at the weekend – and found yourself connected to the Police Station.No, it wasn’t a cop coup. It was just that the Council’s answering machine was making no comment – and the calls were being diverted to the Constabulary.

* Drinking champagne from a slipper may be a regular occurrence for the Hooray Henriettas. But spare a thought for ‘Interesting Steve D’ who found himself with a pint of lager in his welly. In a collision with another Pulp Mill Club customer the full contents of his glass finished up awash in his green welly. As full as a boot, in fact. Had Steve D not been so surprised , and somewhat wet around the ankle, he might have poured the bootful back into his glass and complained that the lager was cloudy.

* Bill Bryce was fuming. By his beard, he was. Bill had just come back from the Loire Valley where everything was wonderful, and he could park his motor anywhere. But all good things came to an end when he left his Land Rover in Viewforth on his first day back in the office. You see, Bill couldn’t get into his private, paid for parking bay (Probably occupied by French tourists). So he returned a few
minutes later to review the situation – and found that he had qualified for a £7 ticket from the men in white coats.

* Isn’t it marvellous that, despite all this new technology we keep hearing about, if there’s a drop of rain we always get a moat on the street outside the old post office? Locals and visitors alike run the gauntlet of being splashed with the muddied waters  there within minutes of the Fort William rainfall. Other townspeople walk on the Jacobite side of the street – and risk getting run over! Meanwhile, quite a number of folk, including Council staff, thought there would be no refuse collection in town on Bank Holiday Monday. But there was. So, did somebody slip up? Or was this a public-spirited act of devotion – and double time?

* Spotted on the Ben Nevis mountain track last Sunday. Plimsolls and trainers galore. One French family in wellies. Italians sporting ski poles (for balance?), and a right royal looking woman with a parasol. All of this in a noon temperature of 75 degrees. But no mad dogs or Englishmen, apparently.

* These boots were made for walking. So thought the person who swiped them and other climbing clobber from the model (inanimate) in Fort William Tourist Office . A Houdini act and a Whodunnit.

* Hoity-toity customer in Mathesons. ‘I’m looking for a tallboy’, she announces. ‘Well, you’ve come to the wrong man!’, Wee Donald replied.

* Down Memory Lane went our mountain rescuers at their slide show. Not lantern slides, right enough, but some of the shots were bordering on the antiquarian. Like, for example, George (Harrison) Archibald, Wee Willie (Anderson) Harris and the Man with Two Surnames, complete with long hair and banjos, Terry Confield and Alex Gillespie sporting flowing locks, Donald Watt’s Beatnik look – with centre parting, Bearded and longish haired George Bruce, looking as if he’d just stepped down from a Player’s cigarette packet. There’s more but I’d better not mention his surname as John Stevenson will get the blame  for telling me about the one whose ears were sticking out like ‘a mini with its doors open’,

* Consternation in Monzie Square on Friday. There was no morning coffee. Nor afternoon tea. The plug for the kettle had given up the struggle and a new one was required. Girl Friday was despatched to Woolies. Came back with – a shaver plug.  Coffee or tea, anyone? No chance.

* When you set foot inside the front door of Lochaber House the Magic Eye comes into operation. So it must have been quite entertaining for the upstairs audience to watch the antics of the Yanks who were looking for a stamp machine alongside the lift shaft.
Maybe a wee notice would be in order. Or a loudspeaker message could be broadcast to the many towrists who confuse Lochaber House with the Post Office.

* Livy was livid. He’d hunted all over the ‘Lochaber Look’ to find ‘Ben’ – and so have a chance to win £10. He had stood on his head, got down on all fours, bent over backwards (next month Livy is just going to turn the paper round instead). Finally, however, Livy located Ben. He went for the scissors to cut out the competition advert. It was only after he’d posted his entry that Livy realised he’d actually sent away the advertisement next to it.

* With the West Highland Line poised to enter an era of hi tech radio signalling later this year Í hear that the Banavie Station personnel  have been given a very exacting task. They have been instructed to produce an inventory of all the railway property
for which they are responsible – and which has been in the station since Nineteen Oatcake. So they have to fill in a questionnaire as to the year the coal scuttle was provided, how many Tilley lamps there are, the number of chains in the toilet, the date of the platform seats and whose initials are carved on them, and so on. It beats me why Scotrail don’t have this info on their own files.

* Skip, change of step. Yes, folks it’s the Lochaber District Council Country Dance Appreciation Society’s variation on the theme. Yet again. For the fourth time in no time at all, the Council has decided to demolish the steps leading up to Ross Place. Soon the residents have to decide, like the Grand Old Duke of York’s men, whether they’re going to be up or down – on a daily basis.

*  A Braes angler was out for a walk when he came across a fair sized salmon on the banks of the River Roy. ‘Ah’! he thought, ‘This one must have been landed by an otter.’ Without further ado he got out the knife he uses for such purposes and, having ‘prepared’ the salmon, went to get his car to facilitate the spiriting of it away. As he was organising this, an angler who had actually caught the salmon and who, too, had gone for his car, appeared on the bank. He saw the fish with the marks of the knife on it and thought to himself, ‘Just as well I got back here quick, or an otter would have been away with the whole fish!’

* A lot of folk were wondering last week if some big changes in the Catholic hierarchical structure are to be announced. The reason was the pall of black smoke rising from the lum of St Mary’s Hall. But all is well.It was just the heating being adjusted prior to a ceilidh.

* Up the stairs went Mrs MacDonald. Planked herself down on a chair, and waited for the shampoo. Much to her consternation she was asked if she had an appointment. Mrs MacDonald replied, ‘Yes, of course’. She was advised, nicely, that her name wasn’t in the book. Which wasn’t too surprising as Mrs MacDonald was occupying the chair in the dentists’ surgery when she should have been ‘through the wall’ in the hairdressers.