Retro Roamer – Week 08

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* Pedestrianisation of Fort William High Street. If you don’t know about it by now, you certainly will – from 6am on Sunday onwards! That’s the unlikely hour – and day – when the Fort William Traffic Management Scheme comes into operation. And a radical change to our accepted way of life in the Fort will be brought about. I really do wonder how many people realise the impact that pedestrian priority will have.
Generations of An Gearasdan locals – and Lochaber folk ‘in from the country’ – have been driving through the High Street as a matter of course – and of right. Even if their mission was only to see what was doing in the town. That will all stop on Sunday.  Or will it? Just watch those spaces. Because, if I know the locals, they’ll find a way to hit the High Street by car, whether for cruising purposes, ‘sightseeing’, visits to cash dispensers, to collect takeaways or videos.

* A search and rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth is expected to arrive during the 51st Year Reunion of Lochaber’s 1730 Squadron ATC, with spectators being invited to watch demonstrations of ‘Winching in the West End Car Park’. In my day, the only ‘winching’ in that 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’ from Fort William to Corpach on Thursday. Its route had the passengers gesturing and gesticulating at the driver, and quite a few passers-by trying to alert him to the fact that the bus was ‘going the wrong way’. Somehow the bus had 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 for Corpach – the Queen of Suburbia.

* Meanwhile, there have been a rake 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 housing application describes him as Les BAIRN and his colleague, Ian Skinner, has his address shown as ‘PUB’S Drive, Corpach. Not to mention the pilot posters for Mallaig Scrabble Club which referred to it as Mallaig SCRABLE Club!

* Not to be outdone – could it ever be? Lochaber District Council has circulated a letter from Army HQ Scotland, addressed to Councillor Drew McFarlane Slack as – Drew McFarlane FLACK. Aye, and Drew took plenty of flak for that one.

* 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.

* Seagull City – Port of Mallaig. The good folk there must be wondering if the next stage in the development of their village by the planners and architects, aka ‘The Wise Men from the East’, will mark local landmarks as ‘Port of Mallaig – The Khyber’ and ‘Port of Mallaig – Chinatown’.

* 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.

* More 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.

*Despite the shock of getting a £20 excess ticket in Viewforth still gnawing at his Aberdonian sensibilities, George Bruce 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’

* Neither light 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!

* Back, well almost, to the Port of Mallaig. I now hear that some of the fine folk from Blessed Morar are up in  arms about – Port of Mallaig! ‘If their village can be renamed , then why can’t ours’? That  seems to be the message reverberating along the Road to the Isles, following a signposting seminar in – Bonnie Glenfinnan! – Beoraid Mor agus Beoraid Beag are the proposed new names for Upper and Lower Morar. Thus leading to the alteration of postal addresses, fascia boards, letterheads, and promotional literature.

* It’s funny how wee local tales get back to you. A couple of weeks back we featured a picture story with Ken Scoular in the kilt and lace jabot, welcoming guests to the Round Table World Council meeting in the Alex. Different neckwear, indeed, to that which Ken sported when he and his Fort William Round Table colleagues went to collect the 27 visiting delegates who had been staying  at The Drovers Inn on Loch Lomondside. On that occasion, while Ken was helping the guests get their teeth into some of the finer points of Highland hospitality his monogrammed tie began swimming around in his pint!  Causing much mirth – and more when a Kiwi Tabler  extracted the tie from the glass and proceeded to wring its contents back into the remains of Ken’s pint. ‘I bet this gets into Roamer’! Ken as heard to say. It has, Ken. But only because, unbeknownst to you, there was a quartet from Onich in the bar at the same time!