Retro Roamer

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* There wasn’t the slightest chance  of knowing the score in the New Year shinty match between Lodge Fort William 43 and Lodge Lochiel 1200. Why? Because, of course, the result was a secret. But the annual challenge, which featured several former Fort William and Kilmallie players making ‘comebacks’ and attracted scores of spectators, was a fine sporting start to 1993.

* Meanwhile, up Upper Banavie Road, at Torcastle, Ian Sykes was being press ganged and then conveyed, under ski patrol, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team and Hydro Electric escort, to the Canal Bank from where he was made to walk the plank ONTO ‘The Souter’s Lass’. In total darkness. While Ian was finding his sea legs, the pipes struck up and fireworks were set off. Then the lights went on and 50 folk started to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. It took Spike a wee while to recover his equilibrium and, when he did, he certainly needed plenty of puff to blow out the candles on the cake.

* Two volunteer posts were advertised rather quaintly on church notice boards last Sunday: ‘Two vacant members are required to serve on the Parish Council.’

* Prior to taking up his promotion post as Chief Inspector in Inverness, Robbie Smart had his ‘farewell do’ in Fort William. Robbie reminisced about his introduction to Fort William and its High Street: ‘I went into a pub,’ he said ‘and saw this notice on the wall behind the bar which read ‘A Pie, A Pint and a Kind Word’. So I asked the barman for a pint. He served it without comment. Then I said I’d have a pie. It was handed over in silence and, so far, he had said absolutely nothing.’ But Robbie persevered. ‘I just had to jar him,’ he said. ‘What about the kind word, then?’ This elicited an immediate response. ‘Don’t eat the pie, it’s last week’s.’

* Claggan Park groundsman John Sandison is getting ready for the arrival of Celtic for Sunday’s friendly against Fort William. John has asked for new, environmentally friendly green overalls to replace the light blue issue he normally wears. And John is hopeful of getting a new cap to swap for the blue and white one that goes with the job and which has the initials DSO emblazoned on it.  If he doesn’t get kitted out in time for the wearing of the green, then he’ll deserve the DSO if he puts in an appearance sporting his usual light blue gear. Meanwhile, if all else fails, Florence has bought a tin of white emulsion so John can go out into the park prior to kick-off and paint the tips of the grass blades white!

* The atmosphere has been electric around these parts recently. In Appin, for example, sparks flew during the filming of a TV commercial. The activities of technicians from  Glasgow-based television production company were such that they soon had a highly charged impact on the local populace. They needed power, you see, to heighten the lighting effects on, among other local focal points, Castle Stalker. So they linked up their generator to the Appin supply. Then, flash, bang, wallop they blew the lot, rendering out of action the village cookers and kettles, fridges and freezers, TVs and table lamps. Locals say the film company personnel were totally embarrassed which was hardly surprising as they were attempting to produce a Hydro Electric TV advert.

* There was a lot of power – water power – surging past the courthouse last Friday for the West End to have harnessed it all to generate their own hydro electricity. What a pity the legal eagles, constabulary members and the public couldn’t have been captured on video as they tried to ford the rushing waters of Allt a’ Phriosain to get into and out of the courthouse.

* Who, apart from skiers, could fail to warm to Malcolm Brown’s off-piste comment at 9am on Nevis Radio/SkiFM at the weekend? ‘I’ll be back at 10am to remind you there’s no skiing on Aonach Mor,’ he said.

* Peter was at the jigging. At Lochaber Rugby Club’s dinner dance, to be precise, getting his teeth into a Strip the Willow. The whole length of the Milton floor was taken up with sets of kilted rugby players and their long skirted partners giving it beans. All of a sudden, Peter put his hand to his mouth then sashayed through the ranks of dancers, glissading to a stop among the farthest away group and starting to scratch about on the floor. Peter then emerged triumphantly with his top set which, remarkably, had survived all the scrums and tackles of the Strip the Willow sets.

* In the teeth of a howling gale, I was heading into town on foot from Claggan. I chanced upon a rain coated, muffled and bunneted gentleman, clinging to the railings at at St Mary’s. It was the redoubtable Stron(i)ach,   understandably, because of his artificial limbs, making heavy weather of his attempts to cross the road to the station. Which should explain to all you tooting, light flashing, hand waving local motorists why Stron(i)ach and I were to be seen, arm in arm, battling the elements along Belford Road and then across to the sanctuary of the station.

* The Pulp Mill Club’s first quiz night was more social and sociable than serious and sedate and raised a few chuckles as a result. Jimmy Lamond, for example, insisted that the only Soul Band worth hearing belonged to the Salvation Army. And ‘The Hit of the Seventies’ was – himself! Then there was the team called ‘The Alphabets – Men and Women of Letters’. All post persons, in fact. Not forgetting the Glesca Keelies, Ally, Bally and Bee. The mill had a couple of teams in the fray. And Joe Gillies is now thinking of going into the quiz biz in a big way. So much so that he was spotted at the weekend affixing an unique mailbox to the gates of Island View in Bonnie Glenfinnan. The installation is designed to save the post person, weighed down with entry forms for various quizzes and contests, having to open the gates to make each delivery, then having to shut them again.  And Joe’s ‘unique mailbox’? It’s an old, enamelled bread bin.

Roamer pic – Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team kitted out for 1990’s winter. Photograph courtesy of Alex Gillespie from the Roamer Collection.