Retro roamer – week 06

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* At the weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of Lochaber in the Grand Hotel, Rotarian Dr Su Sen was giving geography lessons to the present 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 about telling 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’!

* Art Sutter was on the wireless and he took a call from Donald, over in Uist. ‘De tha Dol’? asked Art. ‘B….. All’, responded Donald, unwittingly completing a ‘macaronic’ – a Gaelic and English rhyming couplet.

* No false starts in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr. The course was certainly mobbed – there were quite a few down from Lochaber. Among the racegoers were Rusty and Eck. With one set of binoculars between them. Just like their winnings, the bins were of the folding variety. Eck requested the privilege of watching the National through the glasses – darkly, as it turned out. ‘Rusty, I’m not getting a good view through these’, Eck moaned. ‘Well, try adjusting them’, suggested Rusty, who was intent on using his height and keen eyesight to advantage to watch the race unfold. ‘These are nae damn use’, Eck ‘eckjaculated’. With only the run-in of the race to go, Rusty finally glanced down at Eck. ‘No blinkin’ wonder you’re not seeing properly’, he hissed.‘You’ve got the binoculars back to front’!

* Did you see the wee Glesca guy hirpling along  in the marathon with the laces flapping out of one of his trainers, causing it to be mair aff his fit than on? When he stopped at one of the drinks stations he was asked why he didn’t lace it up. He replied, modestly, ‘Because it says ‘Tai Wan’. on the other trainer…

* Debbie at the Tourist Office is still chuckling about a query last week directed at her by a Transatlantic traveller. ‘Can you tell me how I get to Elaine MacDonald’s Castle’?  Yes. you’ve guessed it, the intending visitor wanted directions to Eilean Donan Castle.

* Still on tourism. The office in Cameron Square received a letter from London this week, addressed to ‘The Tourist Office, Glasgow or Fort William’. The Mount Pleasant Sorting Office obviously knew which was the more choice destination.

* Ann Bruce came down the Rocky Brae en route for Leslie’s. It was pouring rain, so Ann did a neat body swerve to avoid the Cameron Centre Cascade. Force of habit for Ann, of course, as the former fountain has finally been dried up thanks to a rhone pipe remedy carried out a few days ago by the ‘Authorities’.

*Meanwhile, George of that Ilk, had let his car linger too long in Viewforth car park. So long, in fact, that a £20 excess charge was levied against him for  having the temerity to let his motor overstay its welcome. The Bruce was not amused and has indignantly written about the saga to the council in Doric and English, and to the local papers with an extra  Gaelic word or two. Undeniably George has valid points to make. However, in the meantime, watch those spaces!

*Despite the shock still gnawing at his Aberdonian sensibilities, George gallantly conveyed Brenda to the Ballet at Eden Court later in the week. Brenda was entranced. George, however, settled down in his seat, still thinking of free Fort parking – and fell asleep. Until, that is, there was an almighty clash of cymbals on stage, causing George to sit up with a start. Bolt upright, in fact. What was the ballet performance called ? A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

* Bob and Rena won’t forget their visit to the Forsay Caravan Site in a hurry. On arrival Rena offered to get out of the Rover to open the gate. But, ever chivalrous, Bob said he’d do the needful. In the event both of them climbed out of the motor at the same time.  And, as the gateway to the site is narrow, they shut their respective doors to get to the gate. Whereupon their dog, also called Rover, jumped up excitedly and pawed the central locking button – leaving Rover inside and Bob and Rena outside. You can imagine the embarrassment and inconvenience, until help, in the shape of another caravanner, and a length of bent wire, sorted everything out!

* Let them eat cake! That was the decree from Lochaber High School’s sixth-year pupils after their Leavers’ Dance. A beautiful iced cake, three feet square, had been baked for this gala occasion, ribbon bedecked in LHS colours. However, at the end of the jigging the pupils decided it would be a shame to spoil the cake by cutting it. So, in a very nice gesture, they presented it to the residents of Invernevis House, who have been happily eating cake ever since.

* No light – neither blue nor maroon, in the new decor of Costcutter at Corpach. Despite the solid Stafford support of Rangers and Hearts, the shop has been decked out completely in another colour. Emerald Green!

Roamer is expanding and will now move to a larger, fortnightly column. The next column will be in the paper on February 21.