Retro Roamer

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A few more Roamerisms from the early 1990s

* Right, then, I’ll get on my bike. Just like Sam MacPherson. Sam had pitted his mountain bike against Ben Alder. But the snow began to fall, and the conditions were becoming treacherous. Nothing daunted, Sam unscrewed the pedals, and tied them to his boots to act as crampons. Then he blithely hoisted the bike onto his back and strode down through the snow to what Brian Ball refuses to call ‘Ground Level’. Meanwhile, it’s not a mountain bike Scooby Paterson has. It’s a ‘mounting bike’. Because, whenever I see him on it, he’s mounting the pavement at Claggan Shop, or mounting the traffic island to take a shortcut through Spaghetti Junction at the Belford.

* I note that the consultants for Highland Region are once again championing the cause for an enclosed shopping mall in the High Street. They’ve reached the astounding conclusion that a fixed canopy across the street would give everyone protection when Fort William rains supreme. Ah, but what about the cost, and the timing? These aspects are being kept under wraps in the meantime. It all sounds, yet again, like ‘CanoPY in the Sky’.

* Chairing a Lochaber District Council committee meeting, Cllr Charlie King was determined not to be showing his age. You see, Charlie had reached the Nifty Fifty. And he reckoned that none of his fellow members round the table knew that. However, Cllr King had forgotten about the ‘Kyles Crew’ who were having a musical tribute played for Charlie on Radio Highland to mark the occasion. It was entitled ‘Charlie King’s Farewell to the 49th’,

* A tale of Two Margarets.  At the BA Bingo, when one Margaret sat down  on a chair, it shoogled, causing her to get up again very smartly. ‘This chair’s wonky’. said Margaret to Margaret.  However, instead of changing seats, Margaret persevered, and sat down again. This time the chair creaked and wavered. Up again. Down again. The final analysis by the other Margaret was – ‘There’s something very far wrong with this chair’. There certainly was. The next time Margaret lowered her bahoochie onto it, it disintegrated completely (The chair, that is). Meanwhile the Bingo continued apace. ‘Forty four, hit the floor’, called out Gordon.  To which everyone, despite sitting comfortably, all but collapsed with laughter.

* Sarena (Aged One) got a lovely pair of black patent leather shoes as a present from great granny, Isa. They were Sarena’s pride and joy, and she insisted on wearing them everywhere. Ah, but one day last week, one of the shoes went missing. The house was turned upside down, as was the garage – and shop! No shoe. Sarena was inconsolable  Till her mum went to empty the Hoover bag. And there was Sarena’s shoe. Not sooked right into the machine, fortunately. Aye, Sarena’s big brother, David, had apparently pushed the shoe into the top of the bag. A quick blow of the dust off the shoe and Sarena
was as happy as a sandgirl again.

* Willie Anderson was expecting a visit from ex-colleague, Norrie Hitch, former leader of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. Willie had given Norrie a phone number on which he could be contacted if he wasn’t at home when his visitor arrived. Norrie hit town, but Willie was out. Norrie dialled the number – one of the first in the new local 70 series. Came the response – ‘Fort William Police’. Norrie was momentarily at a loss. ‘I’m trying to get Willie Anderson’, he ventured. ‘Are you doing an answering service for him’? Came the long-suffering reply – ‘It certainly feels like it in here sometimes’!

* A tribute to LMRT was being paid by a Gloucester doctor after he had been rescued and spirited down the Ben by the members of that august outfit.  ‘They were great’, said the GP, from his Belford Hospital bed. ‘Cheerful, and very efficient. And their response to being knee deep in mud, as they stretchered me down the mountainside, provided me with the benefit of a more colourful vocabulary than I ever learned in medical school’!

* Moray Firth Radio. The announcers have now mastered the pronunciation of Kilchoan. Even to the extent of beginning to call it ‘Kil-a-choan’ in true ‘Ardnamurrachan fashion’. Now the MFR presenters can turn their attention to ‘Salen’. Because their interpretation continues to be ‘SAYLEN’!

* Meanwhile, Malcolm Brown on Ski FM actually had a request played for HIM on Sunday. It came from the Fort William WETS (West End Traders Solidarity). And the song they requested to regale Malcolm was, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’. In recognition of the fact that there was great weekend visibility on Aonach Mor. Two lines of the song had been rendered when Malcolm himself butted in to the strains of ‘This is Ski FM Lochaber – thus drowning out his own dedication.

* Did you ever see the like of Minnie on her bike? You probably have. Around Corpach. But the sight of Minnie catching the gondola cable car to get to her work in the Snow Goose Restaurant is simply something else.  On Friday Minnie signed in at the Aonach Mor Bottom Station, and then rushed to board the gondola.  As the car swung round the ground level loop, ready for take off, Minnie sprauchled in, getting her handbag and umbrella stuck in the door. By the time she disembarked at the Top Station, her cigarettes – in the handbag – had been squashed oval, reminiscent of the ‘Passing Cloud’ variety  so beloved of Joe Faccenda, a few decades ago!

* ‘Have you a birthday card for twins’? asked another of our Margarets in one of our High Street emporia. ‘No, but you can have two cards the same,’ was the quick reply from the shop’s super salesgirl.

* One of our tiers of Local Government, Lochaber District Council, was in action (maybe that should read inaction) on Wednesday.  That was the day of the Development Committee meeting . Three out of fifteen elected members turned up. Hence twelve apologies.  One of the trio of councillors who did put in an appearance was heard to declare, ‘Bring back attendance allowances’.

*Roulette, Blackjack and Tote Racing were all part of the Rotary & Round Table joint charity fundraiser in McT’s on Saturday evening. And a great time was had by all, with several good causes seeing the benefit. Five entry names of horses appealed to me : ‘Slow Progress at Lochy Bridge, by out of tar’, ‘Any Offers by Marine Harvest, out of Unilever’, ‘Brackletter Boy, by What a Tip, out of Lochaber Folly’, ‘An Aird by Hot Air, out of Council Chambers’, and ‘Piste Off, by Aonach Mor, out of Snow’.