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* Word reached the national Mod office that low flying manoeuvres had been planned in Lochaber by the MoD during Mod week. Contact was made with RAF Leuchars who were extremely co-operative when they discovered what a Mod is! Albeit not in Gaelic, a call came from the Ministry of Defence headquarters in London assuring there would be no interference from low-flying aircraft during Mod week!
* There was a touch of tartan in Fort William Sheriff Court, with the kilted and robed Procurator Fiscal, Jim MacGillivray, ready to set off for the Mod as soon as the day’s legal proceedings were completed.
* There is no truth in the assertion members of Lochyside Gaelic Choir are going to learn ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ in the Gaelic in time for next year’s Mod. Apparently, the Caol choristers are getting ‘wider still, and wider’, through eating far too much of the tablet made by David Maitland, their indefatigable conductor-come-candyman.
* Quote of Mod week came from An Comunn president Donald John MacIver. Asked by the press if the Bardic Crown was to be reinstated, he replied, ‘No’! Urged to expand on that Mr MacIver said: ‘No-o-o-o!’
- Well-known broadcaster and writer Neville Garden made his mark at the Mod. He was assigned to cover the event as experienced by a non-Gael. With a huge smile he said: ‘At last I’ve had an invitation to ‘come into the Mod garden’.’
* The council’s Lochaber House lift was in limbo again during the Mod reception after a redoubtable member of the local press corps was held captive inside it. This caused a lot of mirth. But then the vice chairwoman of the council also found herself in a state of suspended animation inside the lift. So no doubt in the future, there will be positive council action to counter the ups and downs of Mod week.
* In case you thought we had suddenly had a change of policemen and policewomen on the beat, I should mention the new faces and feet patrolling the High Street this week are members of the specially drafted in ‘Mod Squad of Gaels’. And they’ve been doing a fine PR job on behalf of Northern Constabulary in their temporary posting.
* A large group of youngsters, all members of a rural primary school choir, proceeded along the High Street on Tuesday morning. Going for a soft drink and a scone, perhaps? Or for a cultural visit to the West Highland Museum or the Old Fort? Maybe to view, from the outside, the all-weather centre? No. They were all making a beeline for Woolworths!
* Two kilted islanders came in to our West Highland News Agency office in Monzie Square. ‘Is the hairdresser’s upstairs open’? asked one of them. ‘Sorry, there’s no barber upstairs, it’s an insurance office,’ said I. This was met with: ‘Well, can you cut our hair for us?’ The reply was: ‘Aye, if your sgian dhus are sharp enough.’ The island men left in disarray, but with directions to locate the town’s several salons.
* Plenty of revellers emerged, bleary-eyed, into the dawn of Saturday. The time was, in fact, 5.40am!
* Earlier in the week, after a ceilidh or two, a few Mod-goers spotted the police Mod Squad in the wee small hours. ‘Any chance of getting B&B at the police station’? they queried. Came the reply, in the Gaelic, of course: ‘Sorry, our guests stay in the cells for a minimum of a week.’
* At the end of the week, Mr MacIver paid tribute to the excellent ‘An Gearasdan Friendly Mod’ which, he enthused, will be remembered as one of the most memorable in the history of the event. In particular, he gave high praise to the Mod Lochaber committee, Lochaber High School and Lochaber District Council. And he was delighted ‘the only week of summer we’ve had in 1985 should coincide with the Mod’!
* Finally, an extract from the An Comunn Gaidhealach 1985 press information pack which mentions the 1932 National Mod in Fort William. Many Lochaber locals will know the story which has been highlighted and handed down since. It goes like this: ‘In 1932, rain almost stopped play. Those who attended remembered more vividly than anything else, the deafening sound of the deluge – including hailstones – on the corrugated iron roof of Marshall & Pearson’s Garage in Fraser Square which was doubling as a civic hall for the Mod.’