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* On Tuesday there were meetings galore in Lochaber House, all of which over-ran their allotted time. So much so that the soup and sandwiches lunch break passed almost unnoticed. Till one councillor strolled into the annexe room for a cup of coffee and found lunch was there waiting. By that time the Scotch broth was more like cauld kale. Discussion ensued on the future requisitioning of a microwave. Alternatively, the council may buy a dinner gong as long as the presence of a staff member can be assured to give it a bong at the appropriate time. There were different problems at the Regional Council meeting, convened simultaneously in the ‘Alex’. A motion from one member ensured the extinguishing of all the cigarettes glowing illicitly in the Aonach Mor suite. Then a follow-up proposal was carried for the ‘removal of all that drink from the top table’. Thus two bottles of Irn Bru and one of Rose’s lime juice cordial were binned. Meanwhile, the Lochaber development committee meeting had to be postponed – because of a lack of agenda items. I ask you!
* We’re waiting for Lochaber District Council (LDC) to rediscover and remedy the MacIntosh Steps. If LDC has recycling plans it should redouble its efforts and do something with the litter and lager cans strewn along the sides of the steps.
* It’s high time our planners took a look at a few of the alleged ‘retail shop fronts’ in the High Street. There must be a dire shortage of curtain fabric and display material because one of the shops, close to the Bank of Scotland, has had tatty brown paper covering its windows for ages. And, if my guess is correct, this will become a permanent fixture. Unless, of course, the Chamber of Commerce gets its act together.
* I believe local train drivers are none too chuffed at a directive that they carry flares in the cab in case they get stuck in a snowdrift. These were issued in the middle of last week’s bucketing rain and are being looked on as a collection of damp squibs. Come the summer, I expect those driving the steam train will be allocated high powered hoses in case they set the heather on fire.
* And our postmen are being rerouted, with some doing the rounds and bounds of Blarmafoldach and Glenloy for the first time in their careers. But that great leveller, the stray dog, is keeping the boys on their toes. Already one rugby playing postie’s posterior has been a prime target for a canine caper which left its mark.
*Doggone it! The evidence has gone walkabout. Following a weekend break-in at business premises, a stone was found on the floor on the inside of a smashed window. Just as the offending object was about to be dusted for fingerprints, along came the establishment’s wee dog. It picked up the stone and ran off out the door with it in its mouth.
Mrs Cameron phoned a local establishment for a takeaway and asked if it could be ready for 5.15pm. Goes to the premises and gives her name. ‘It’ll be five thirty,’ she was advised. ‘No problem, I’ll take a seat till it arrives,’ said Mrs Cameron. She sat down and started to have a read at a paper. Staff member comes over: ‘Don’t you want your meal just now?’ he asks. ‘Yes, but you said five thirty,’ Mrs Cameron replied. ‘No madam, your takeaway is here. It costs £5.30.’
* Jean Pardoe was on sentry duty at the West Highland Museum. She sold two tickets to an elderly couple. Off they went to enjoy the delights. A quarter of an hour later the man came down the stair and out into the sunshine. After a couple of minutes a man came in, brandishing an admission ticket and walked straight past Jean’s desk and up the stair. ‘Funny,’ thought Jean, ‘there’s something a bit different about that bloke.’ So off she went, up the stair to take a look at him. And Jean finished up getting ticket money off the man who, it transpired, was an identical twin of the ‘party of the first part’. Jean had noted there was a subtle difference and caught them at it. So the museum was 50 pence better off and a potential minor con trick was foiled. Full marks to Jean for her powers of observation.
* I’m sitting in the office in Monzie Square on Monday. Pick up a phone. Dial a Fort William number. Then the other phone beside me rings. I answer it while I await the response to my call. I say hello, nicely, several times. Then it dawns on me. I’m talking to myself. I’d rung our other number by mistake. Must be old age.
* Interesting feature on the Mallaig Line in one of the Sunday supplements. Apparently, for years, a cuckoo used to put in an appearance at Glenfinnan Station at the same hour every day during the early summer months, almost as if it was a regular cuckoo commuter. Then, at Lochailort Station, there were whimbrels, whinchats and mallards. Seals were frequently seen at Arisaig Station, along with the occasional wildcat. And at Mallaig Station there were, of course, sheep!
*Have you taken a dander in the direction of the Old Fort recently? I can never understand how it is that LDC can landscape an area so nicely and then not maintain it. The amount of rubbish lying about under the bushes and near the picnic table is reminiscent of An Aird in its town dump days. Even the higher reaches of the shore in the lee of the Old Fort look like a disaster area. Loch Linnhe, lapping the shore, is not a pretty sight, either. When Freddie had his onshore fox run he was approached by LDC’s environmental health brigade to tidy things up. Understandably Freddie’s response was: ‘The blankety blank tide brought all this blankety blank stuff up onto the shore and the blankety blank tide can take it blankety blank back out again.’ Now, perhaps, just once, we could break with tradition, with our local authority (regardless of ownership) setting to for a tidy-up of the shore line in the interests of our much vaunted tourist trade – if not for the enjoyment of the locals.
* Sport now, well football anyway. Bryan (Geordie) Nicholson was up to high doh at the latest Fort game. At the interval he asked several of the earphoned spectators if they had heard any half time scores on the radio. ‘Aye,’ replied one of the listeners. ‘Hearts and Rangers are 1-1 and there’s no score between Hibs and Dundee’. Said a distracted Geordie: ‘Na, Na, I mean the real football. what’s the Newcastle score’? Needless to say this was met with blank looks. And, indeed, blank was the scoreline at half time, but Newcastle did find the net in the second period. Unfortunately Spurs scored four against them!.
* Meanwhile, a forthcoming match for all you enthusiasts is to take place at Black Parks. Between, would you believe, the railway’s permanent way crew and the traffic department. They’re even having a referee to keep them on the right track. The date is to be confirmed, but the weekend kick-off is scheduled for 2pm. However, there will probably be a delay before the whistle blows.
* Entente Cordiale flourished at the BA last Saturday. A French lorry driver appeared with a load of furnace firebricks. Normally the consignment would have been unloaded on Monday. But the Frenchman didn’t have enough money on him to cover the weekend. Nor credit cards, apparently. So management stepped into the breech to finance him, while the Saturday squad emptied the lorry. And we thought our economy was in a bad way!
* Mobile trader puts the key in the ignition of his van. Key breaks. Temporary alternative means of vehicular transport required. So he hires another van. Fills up with petrol. Too late he discovers it should have been diesel. Mobile driver’s wife enquires of me next day: ‘How can a mobile trader do anything so daft’?