Retro roamer – week 04

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* I must have come pretty close to getting done for contempt of court last week. The sheriff was proceeding to the bench while, in time-honoured fashion, the usher was announcing ‘Court! All rise’!
Along with my press colleagues I attempted to stand up, as per the customary deference. But a packet of Polo mints in my jacket pocket managed to get snagged between the seats and I couldn’t rise. By the time I got the pocket and Polos free, everyone was sitting down again!

*‘Fort William Rains Supreme’! That was the headline describing our town’s above average (even for Fort William) precipitation. That possibly explains why, last week, I received a letter from London addressed to ‘Wet Highland News Agency’!

* Aye, and still the rain comes tumbling down, and the Falls of Cameron (Square) – Fort William’s answer to the Waltzing Waters – are cascading down off the roof of the ‘All Weather Centre’, onto the  unsuspecting pedestrians.

* Johnny’s dog followed him from the house to Caol Community Centre bingo. ‘Shoo! Shoo! Away home ‘! Johnny shouted. ‘You haven’t any money for the bingo anyway’!

* ‘Learning all the time’ was a catchphrase in one of the TV sitcoms. And  thus did Young Livy continue his education at the Pulp Mill Club 25th anniversary dinner-dance.  He was introduced to the mysteries of an ‘Excuse Me’, which saw him receive a tap on the shoulder and his partner being whisked  away to whirl round the floor with an elderly bloke from Corpach.

* Smokin’ Simon Macdonald in Safeway. Streetwise, of course, being domiciled in Glenuig. Simon’s Safeway safari was going fine till he reached the checkout. ‘£25.79, please’. Simon took out his wallet and leafed through a wad of notes, counting out six of them. The lassie at the till took one look and said, ‘Sorry, I can’t accept those’. Smokin’ Simon proceeded to take a closer look. He had proffered five 500 drachma notes and one for 100 drachmas. ‘I’m just back from Greece’, Simon stammered, by way of apology. It was certainly all Greek to the checkout girl.

* Allan, Alex and Scoobie were out in the snowy wastes – on mountain bikes. But then, en route from Lianachan to Aonach Mor, Scoobie’s chain broke. Nothing daunted, Allan and Alex produced ropes and towed Scoobie, bike and all, to what we now call Nevis Range. So that means there was an additional tow in operation there that day.

* Meanwhile Lochaber District Council goes walkabout later this week. Members and officers are being directed round – I quote – ‘An Aird – The Morrison Development, Multi-Purpose Hall/Leisure Centre and Surrounding Area’. I trust that the landward councillors, arriving from Ardnamurchan, Morvern, Kinlochleven, and Ballachulish will ignore the Highland region’s brand new road signs, specially prepared for An Aird, which they’ll see on the way along the bypass, and which point towards the ‘leisure centre’. Otherwise they’ll find themselves in at the deep end of an unscheduled conducted tour of their own swimming pool! Ah, but even as I write this, I gather that the new signs have been declared ‘black’, with the Region using masking tape of that colour to cover the offending words. So now we can safely assume that everyone will fetch up at the appropriate area of An Aird, and not across the road from Belhaven. Incidentally what WILL they see at An Aird? Watch that space.

* Busy time for the District Councillors. Their coach trip to Kinloch for a full procedural meeting on Tuesday had  certain touches of irony about it. It was ‘All aboard for the MacDonald Hotel’, to be met by the local member, Albie Robertson – who normally comes to the Fort William meetings by bus, but had had a long lie prior  to sauntering up Wades Road for this home fixture – not far from Island Park where Albie used to officiate in his refereeing days. The hotel venue was a model of away-day propriety.  In fact, the only recorded vote was to check how many of the elected members, officers and press wished to have haddock and chips as opposed to steak pie and tatties for lunch. Inevitably there were two amendments  – one councillor wanted haddock and potatoes, and another, steak pie and chips!

* Lochaber’s latest ‘star of the airwaves’, Ben Nevis Distillery managing director Colin Ross was in fine anecdotal fettle on Neil MacLeod’s ‘Peat Tracks’ on Nevis Radio. Colin took the listeners along the ‘whisky trail’, from his early days in the business to his current role as MD of the only distillery in Scotland which is wholly owned by the Japanese. And his choice of music was remarkable, ranging from Rock’n’Roll numbers to ‘The House of the Rising Sun’!

*At the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Lochaber in the Grand Hotel, Rotarian Dr Su Sen was giving geography lessons to the president. ‘Since ever I’ve been a member of this club the president, at the top table, has always sat facing east’, Rotarian Sen pointed out. Tongue in cheek, of course! ‘Today the table has been set in such a way that you, President, are looking west, and I’d like to know why there has been a break in tradition’. The place settings were hastily rearranged.

* If you want to get ahead – get a spare hat. That was what was going through Alex Duncan’s mind on Loch Morar last week. He was running his fingers through his hair after his Deerstalker had been blown off his head and swept away towards Meoble. Alex, of course, knows his way around these parts, and he was soon kitted out with a temporary ‘coming and going’ replacement by the Morar Hotel Millinery Department.

*Alister Grant, Belford telephonist and former ambulanceman was in attendance at the RNI in Inverness. For his investiture. Alister was one of the health board employees from the north being recognised at an awards ceremony. You’ll remember how comedian, Johnny Bogan, used to ‘send up’ a character called ‘Grant from the Highland Board’. Well, Alister will, of course, now feature as Grant from the Highland Health Board.

* At 6pm last Thursday, as we were about to call it a day in the West Highland News Agency, here’s Clydesdale Bank manager, Willie Allan, driving into Monzie Square. ‘You’re either going to be working late – or you’ve forgotten something’!, says I to Willie. Willie wasn’t sure to tell us why he was apparently back for business. But he relented. ‘Well, you’ll probably see what I’m going to do anyway’, he said with a grin.’ And he then stuck his card in the ‘Hole in the Wall’. Willie added, ‘It wasn’t till I got to Corpach  that I realised I’d forgotten to get some money out of the bank’!