Retro roamer – week 05

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* 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.

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, and then having to shut them again.  And Joe’s unique mailbox? It’s an old, enamelled breadbin.

* Meanwhile, down in Seagull City, the locals are seeking to improve their word counts. A notice has gone up outside the village hall exhorting everyone to join – and I quote – ‘Mallaig Scrable Club. Perhaps one well- known balladeer along the Road to the Isles will be joining ‘Mallaig Scrable Club’ to while away the nights till he recovers fully from the flu and finds his singing voice again?

* Highland Region’s planning committee rents Lochaber District Council’s chamber in Lochaber House in Fort William for its monthly meetings. Last week its members and officers found themselves ‘in in the cold’. No amount of pre-planning could have legislated for the fact that the heating controls in the chambers are monitored – ironically – by the Lochaber House landlords, the Post Office – in Inverness! So the absence of central heating was not because the region didn’t have ‘the benefit of planning permission’. Councillor Michael Foxley, as chairman, apologised to everyone for the unprecedented lack of hot air in the chamber. And, by the end of the meeting, he declared that, despite being a GP, he had no feeling left in his feet.

* Next day it was the turn of the full District Council. Obviously, precautionary measures had been taken to ensure there was some additional warmth for the protracted proceedings. But not enough, apparently, as the administrative attire was exchanged for flak jackets.

* But wait! The saga continues. In these very chambers, ‘Q  Day’ came along. Advertised as a meeting of Lochaber District Licensing Board. But the queue of licensees and their agents – 75 in all – found there was something of a quandary over the quarterly meeting. Only five members of the board formed the day’s quota. So that brought into the equation that quaint word ‘Quorate’. Council decorum requires six to make up the Licensing Board quorum. Five doesn’t qualify. The result? No quarterly meeting. After apologies on behalf of the quintet by the quintessential chairman, Councillor Eddie Hunter, applicants and agents quietly dispersed. To, among other places, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grangemouth, Lochaline, Kilchoan, aye and even Queensferry (South). Lots of legal ramifications now have to be interpreted with regard to licence granting, renewals, extensions and transfers. Quickly.

* Ah, but ‘Well Done’ to Lochaber District Council – and Fort William FC who, between them, made such a grand job of co-ordinating the arrangements for last Saturday’s Scotland v Holland Schoolboys International at Claggan Park. The only aspect for which nobody could cater was – the Lochaber weather.  Yet, despite the elements, the best  part of 2,000 spectators turned up on the pouring wet day.

And they weren’t disappointed. Scotland put on a great display to record a well merited  2-0 victory. After the match, bottles, gifts, ties, banners and other items of goodwill were exchanged. It fell to Drew Purdon to  hand over a hefty bottlesworth of Dew of Ben Nevis to the referee. Said he, ‘I should ask Les Mottram to accept this from me in my capacity as chairman of Lochaber District Council. But I’m not going to’.

There were quite a few perplexed expressions at that. But then Drew continued, ‘Instead, I’m going to present it to him in my role as President of the Fort William Branch of the Partick Thistle Supporters Club’!

* SFA secretary, Jim Farry, broke into a smile, despite the rain, when confronted by Drew Purdon’s tie. It transpires that the SFA has some newly designed official neckwear, and it was having its first airing by being sported by – Jim Farry. However, by sheer coincidence, the council chairman’s tie was almost identical – except that it also featured a motif of Bugs Bunny!

* There have been a rash of misprints in the local press these past few weeks. For example: ‘At the Scottish Community Drama Association divisional finals in Brora , the Nairn DRAM Group presented ‘Loving Kindness’, Les Bain’s house application describes him as Les BAIRN, and Les’s colleague, Ian Skinner has his address shown as ‘PUB’S Drive’, Corpach.

* Not to be outdone. Could it ever be? Lochaber District Council has circulated a letter addressed to Councillor Drew McFarlane Flack. It is from Army Headquarters, Scotland.

* Perhaps it’s because of what passes for my sense of humour, but I was tickled by the names of the winners of the ‘Travelling Prizes’ at the Treslaig Beetle Drive. Alastair Cook and Donald Campbell.

* Robert Cairns advised me that a search and rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth is expected at the 51st Year Reunion of Lochaber’s 1730 Squadron ATC, so spectators can watch demonstrations of ‘winching in the West End Car Park’. In my day, the only ‘winching’ in that very part of town was in the Shelter in Achintore Road –  with the occasional spectator.

* On the Buses. Lochaber style. Take, for example, the magical mystery tour on Thursday.  Bus and driver were on a local run. Except that its route had quite a few folk gesturing and gesticulating, including the passengers. The destination was Corpach. But, somehow the bus set off down Achintore, past Fort William Primary, the shelter and boatshed. Ah, but quick to react, the driver then headed up Ashburn Lane, drove along Grange Road, down into the West End and then set off en route, at last, to the Queen of Suburbia.

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