Retro Roamer – 25.07.19

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* Several local worthies who were watching the Scotland v Ireland shinty-hurling match found an environmentally friendly use for the wheelie bins at An Aird. First, they pressed the bins into service as standing-height bar tables, covering these with well-read local newspapers. Then, when their Coca Cola and Fanta cans (!) were empty, they just lifted the bin lids and dropped them inside. An Aird wasn’t the former town dump for nothing!

* Then there was the Inverlochy worthy-ess whose zimmer frame went wonky, thus depriving her of the freedom of ‘The Village’. Not to be beaten, however, she was seen near the Braxy, pushing an empty wheelie bin.

* Jim MacDougall, former Postman of the Year, was sitting in his car in the Safeway car park. Along came an acquaintance who said to him, ‘I see you’re on the retired list now, Jim.’ Jim queried as to how his friend had come by this intelligence. ‘It’s on your number plate,’ was the reply. Sure enough, unbeknown to Jim, another ‘acquaintance’ had put a false panel on the front of his VW Golf, overlapping the local registration, and proclaiming ‘IM RETIRED’ .

* Ivy and Bill Ogram, from Full Sutton on Humberside, have just returned home after spending a holiday in Banavie. They stayed at Taormina, the B&B run by Kathleen and Duncan MacInnes. For the 35th successive summer! Incidentally, the Ograms reported that the Lochaber weather on this latest visit was the coldest they’d experienced.

* A misinterpretation in Woolworths resulted in an American visitor being shown to the raisins fixture instead of the one with razors. Reminds me of when I used to re-stock the shelves in the Fine Fare supermarket at Swiss Cottage. When you start in that job they give you the beans and peas fixtures to fill. That’s because the beans and peas are the heaviest items nearest the checkouts – and farthest away from the loading bay. Then you graduate to Cornflakes, Puffed Wheat and Rice Krispies – big boxes but they don’t weigh too heavily on you. By my third night shift there I knew it all! Until a certain customer came in, saw me down on my hunkers stacking Special K and Coco Pops, tapped me on the shoulder and asked me: ‘Where are the peppers?’ Says I, still hunkered, ‘Over there, sir, beside the salt and vinegar.’ He goes. He comes back. ‘I asked you where the peppers were, and you sent me to the wrong shelves.’ I reiterated: ‘You’ll find them in the condiments section, along with the salt and vinegar.’ Off he went. I got on with the cereals. Next thing, this customer and the supermarket manager were standing over me. The manager was holding a round red thing in one hand, and a round green thing in the other. ‘These are peppers, Jock,’ he announced. Well, I couldn’t help being from Fort William, could I?

* In Helensburgh, immaculate in Pringlewear, were members of the Lochy Bar golf section, under the leadership of organiser, bus convener and former Helensburgh Golf Club member, Eric McKenzie. It was the day of the Helensburgh Open. First off the tee was Bill Kelly, aka Mr William Kelly as announced over the club public address system. ‘Wallop’, and off the tee and out of bounds, went Bill’s ball. A somewhat chastened William received an ‘action replay’ announcement. Happily, this time, he clattered his second drive straight down the middle. Bill strode off, aware that he was going to be ‘sent up’ for the rest of the day by his loyal Lochy colleagues. He was a hundred yards up the fairway when the speaker crackled again. ‘Mr William Kelly. Haven’t you forgotten something?’ Bill had. His golf bag and clubs were lying at the edge of the first tee. However, by all accounts, the Likely Lochy Lads (and veterans) acquitted themselves very well. Which was a relief to Eric McKenzie who had put them on their mettle not to embarrass him at his former club. ‘We’ll be welcomed back to Helensburgh!’ Eric told them when they arrived back in Caol. ‘But I can’t say the same for  the licensed premises at Inverarnan, Bridge of Orchy  and Kingshouse!’

* There are so many buskers in the High Street these days – including Sundays, incidentally – I’m hearing that, in the town’s dental surgeries, the patients’ feet are tapping so much that this causes their injections to take longer to react.

* Aye, well, that’s the Braveheart crew away. To Ireland. And, as one Glen Nevis village is being razed to the ground, another (centuries older) is taking shape on the slopes above Achriabhach. As the filming of Rob Roy is set to start, it shouldn’t be long before a few tales for this column will come filtering through on the theme of ‘Extras! Extras! Read all about them’. Meanwhile, a band of ‘Local Heroes’ are in Ireland, having been detailed  to take items of vitally important equipment from the West Highland hills to the Wicklow hills for the continuation of the Braveheart shoot. So, if you passed a posse of local lads between here and Stranraer last weekend, they were our very own ‘fillum stars’. Among their gear was, if you please, a mobile toilet. I’m sure all the Irish extras will be pleased with their hillside latrine. Especially as, at the end of July, International Bog Day is being celebrated over there.

* ‘Excuse me,’ said the Welsh visitor in the High Street. She was addressing Jimmy. But she didn’t know that. Otherwise she probably would have said, ‘Excuse me, Jimmy,’ and would have been pretty sure of being correct. Anyhow, Jimmy lent a helpful ear. ‘Am I missing something?’ the Welsh woman queried. ‘It says in this brochure that there are two and a half miles of shops in Fort William.’ Jimmy sent her on her way after explaining that half a mile was more accurate.

* ‘Excuse me,’ I overheard this particular question, ‘is there McDonald’s in Fort William?’ Came the local Jimmy-style answer: ‘Aye, at the last count there were about 4,000 around here.’

* Protective helmets for shinty referees? Could be the next thing. Especially after referee John Henderson was laid low by a ball hit by a Strathglass player in last Saturday’s game against Glenurquhart. Shaken, John was soon stirred, however. By the magic sponge.