Retro Roamer: more Roamerisms from the 1980s

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No wonder the driver of the Salen Shellfish delivery van was taking his time on the way to Inverness last Friday. In front of him was a large scale model of the Loch Ness Monster. Looking ravenous, Nessie was hanging over the back of a wide-load lorry. In addition, the monster could have been forgiven for being in an agitated state, having apparently lost a front foot claw. But the thought of shellfish by the vanload appeared to perk Nessie up until, fortunately, the wide-load lorry stopped at Drum and the Salen Shellfish driver was able to speed by – with a sigh of relief – and with a tale/tail to tell when he returned to the Peninsula.

Traveller called at a local petrol station. Fills a full tank and then proffers an American Express card. ‘We don’t take American Express,’ the operator advises him. ‘Well, I haven’t that amount of money on me,’ traveller replies. ‘So what are we going to do?’ It all got a bit fractious for a while. Even the police were called in. The upshot was that the customer was asked to leave something as surety until a financial agreement could be reached. It was then that the traveller must have remembered whom he travelled for – a firm making novelty toys. So he went out to his motor and came back with a clockwork monkey, which he then proceeded to wind up and let loose on the counter. The monkey pranced up and down, and clapped its hands. And the monkey business worked. ‘That’ll do nicely,’ said the filling station attendant.

Wednesday of last week was the Day of the Dumper. And Thursday was the Day of the Digger. The dumper won 25-24. The yellow peril managed to gather 25 cars, vans and lorries behind it en route from Claggan Road End to Lochy Bridge. At 8.45am. The runner-up had two dozen assorted vehicles in its wake next day, over the same stretch of road. At the same time in the morning. I believe that a steamroller will be challenging them both at some inconvenient time.

Meanwhile, I noted that a yacht was going through the canal at 8.45am on Monday. While it was able to ‘save’ seven minutes of prime time, the same cannot be said for the 30 cars, vans, lorries and buses waiting on the Banavie side of the canal. Nor for the several score of motors on the Fort William side. Never mind the 10 vehicles held up as they tried to exit from Caol onto the A830. So, all you local companies, council departments and schools, if any of your staff/pupils were late in on Monday, that was the reason why. The canal has the right of way over road and rail traffic. But at 8.45am, it’s a wee bit much.

You must like the school! That was the comment passed on to quite a few youngsters on Monday. Several of them had turned up for lessons as usual at Lochaber High on what was a teachers’ in-service day. And, therefore, a day off for the pupils.

War veteran, Jim ‘Pasha’ Rodger came face to face with the Africa Star at last weekend’s Cameron Highlanders reunion. Pasha, who had previously been awarded the medal, had somehow contrived to lose it after an earlier Camerons get-together and was very upset about it. So he was as pleased as Pasha when, at a special ceremony at the reunion, he was presented with a replacement Africa Star.

This one is for the parents of children at Lochaber High. The current issue of the School News reports that the office is holding an accumulation of lost property. Watches, calculators, jewellery, purses, keys – you name it. All that is required is for the pupils to give a description of the items, and they can be claimed. In this throw-away society, the youngsters haven’t exactly been flocking to retrieve their property. Maybe the Bank of Mum and Dad can remonstrate with them?

The word went out from the team captain: ‘No drinking on Friday night, lads. We all need to be fit for the fray on Saturday afternoon.’ However, not exactly leading by example, the beloved leader blotted his own copybook and scooped up a few on the quiet after work on Friday. The ‘result’ came at the away match next day. Everybody turned up bright eyed and bushy tailed. The captain was comparatively okay, too … except that he had forgotten his boots!

The local bookies were in an unaccustomed sweat last Friday. Royalist and parliamentary punters had spotted the classic ‘mug’s double’ that day. Premier Princess at Leicester and Weareagrandmother at Sedgefield. Premier Princess won at 6-1, but Weareagrandmother lost the lead in the run-in to take second place at 14-1. So the bookies only had to pay out to each-way backers.

Toto got an early Christmas box. As he put it, it contained ‘a new scissors, and clippers and combs’. No doubt, by the time the festive season is upon us, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team will be called out to search for one or two of these items after Toto mislays them in some forgotten location.

Duncan Ferguson MacDonald of Clanranald was in town from Mingarry last week. The heater wasn’t working in his official Highland Health Board motor. Expert advice indicated the replacement of the thermostat. So Fergie phoned HHB for authorisation to purchase it. ‘Gee whizz, I’m freezing down here, ‘ Fergie advised the admin lassie. ‘The heater in the car has packed in because it needs a new thermostat. What can you do for me?’ The admin lassie obviously had a sense of humour. She responded: ‘I can’t do anything for you over the phone. But why not go along to Peter MacLennan’s and kit yourself out with some thermal underwear till tomorrow and I’ll contact our authorised garage in the meantime.’

Pre-Christmas fare. The spokesman for one group dining out at a local hotel complained to the waiting staff about there being a ‘teabag in among the tatties’. Placatory noises were made and it was explained to the party that it was ‘a herb bag, actually’. Peace and calm were restored.