Retro Roamer

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More Roamerisms from the early 1990s

* Something seems out of kilter with regard to the siting of the open market stalls in Fort William High Street. If you’ve had a dander along our main thoroughfare you’ll have noticed that the granite setts and cobbles of pedestrianisation are laid out in a sloping, bevelled design. So, will the market stalls need to be like the West Highland haggis which Ewen faithfully points out to the visitors aboard MV Souter’s Lass on the Seal Island trip? As Ewen explains: ‘The only way the haggis family are able to balance themselves and look at you from the hillside is because they have two legs shorter than the other two.’

* Quite novel at the weekend were the town’s ‘twin watersplashes’ … thanks to faulty guttering above premises at the corner of Monzie Square and on the roof of the building at the corner of Cameron Square. These were quite spectacular, in fact, and were temporarily dubbed, respectively, as the Mill Falls and the Wine Falls. No Wine Falls in Gordon Square, however, to celebrate the opening of the Fort’s new, integrated Job Centre and accommodation block. Just soft drinks and coffee. Quite appropriate, though, as the building is on the site of the former Waverley Temperance Hotel.

* At one time, in the far off days of Fort William Senior Secondary School, the only known Lochaber supporter of Raith Rovers was Davie ‘Pop’ Allan, from The Village. But now I hear that, in the hallowed halls of Lochaber High, there’s another Raith fan. None other than teacher Bill Henderson, who is to the school’s youth team  what Jimmy Nicoll is to the Rovers. If, as reported, ‘They were dancing in the streets of Raith’ last weekend then, up here in Fort William, Bill was ‘walking on air’ along the corridors on Monday morning.

* Mallaig sportsman Kenny MacKenzie gave the spectators a vintage display when Lochaber Badminton Club hosted the fifth annual Lochaber Open Championships at Marco’s. In the men’s singles competition for the Clydesdale Bank Cup, Kenny waltzed through to the final  without losing a game. He took the title after eclipsing John MacLennan, Lochyside.

* Spare a thought for Susan, who, on Tuesday, laid her black purse on the roof of her VW while she packed into the car the various items she had bought in town. Then Susan  drove off – leaving the purse. which contained a lot of money, to slide down onto the road. Any chance someone has found it?

* Trapped like Rapunzel  was one of our local primary school teachers. She was yelling from the top window after being locked in by the school cleaners! ‘I’ve left my keys in the car,’ she eventually managed to shout down to a lady who lives close to the school and was passing at the time. The relief of the damsel in distress came only after an hour and a half of unpaid overtime which had been spent in watching for someone to happen by, and help her out of her predicament – and the school!

* There was Mary Ann on Radio Highland on Monday morning telling us about the ‘nuclear dumpling’ at Dounreay. I wonder who that might be! At the same time, Sky TV were telling us of the exploits of ‘Lock Harbour Mountain Rescue Team’!

* You may have heard about stray dog Bouncer being given a reprieve and being boarded out to Morar. This will probably be much to the relief of LDC’s dog warden, Fiona Docherty, who met up with Bouncer a couple of weeks back. As Fiona set about putting a collar on the frisky Labrador pup, Bouncer nosed into a shopping bag belonging to a local lady who was just about to get into a taxi. Bouncer then emerged with a bar of chocolate. Fiona, of course, was given laldy by local lady who thought that Bouncer belonged to her.

* ‘By hook or by crook I’ll be last in this book!’ I wonder how many times Nigel Chisholm wrote that popular local phrase in the autograph books of his schooldays. Well, Nigel, veteran of more than a score of Ben Nevis races, now has the distinction of being ‘last’ in Hugh Dan’s forthcoming book about the Ben Race. Hugh Dan states: ‘The challenge of the Ben Race and what it means to the entrants cannot be summed up better than in the words of bank clerk, Nigel Chisholm, who ran the Ben again in 1994 – “Exhausted, wet – but still smiling”.’

* Meanwhile, life went on much as usual at Lochaber District Council’s final special meeting of 1994. Except that there now seems to be a heightened awareness in the Chamber of declarations of interest. On a couple of occasions, on that account, some of the elected members had to excuse themselves from the debate, commenting that ejection seats round the table  would be a ‘good guy’.

* Shades of ‘old Fort William’. The other day I noted two elderly housewives from ‘up the hill’, both equipped with their message bags and having a chat as they reached halfway up Kilgour’s Brae. No bus or taxi for them. Just a regular walk up the hill which they and their contemporaries were doing nigh on half a century ago. When the Fort was a lot smaller. And they were a lot younger.