Retro Roamer

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* Aye, well, that’s us into the later 1990s now – and back to old clothes and porridge at the same time. Happy New Year to my faithful reader and Bliadhna Mhath Ur to the other one – he of the ‘two spokes’.

* Handshakes all round after the Masonic Ne’erday shinty match. Contrary to what you might read elsewhere, there was no secrecy about the result. The Lodge 43 and Lodge 1200 stalwarts settled for a diplomatic 2-2 draw.

* Hogmanay at The Moorings took a couple of novel twists or, in the case of actress Helen Mirren who turned up unexpectedly, a couple of Boston Two Steps, Gay Gordons and St Bernard’s Waltzes. The film star was with a group which came over from Corriegour to take in the New Year at The Moorings and they entered into the spirit of the occasion.

* Saint Mary MacKillop of Australia will be beatified next week. It’s great to see the Brae Lochaber connection in this event which is attracting world-wide attention. I was intrigued, however, to read in a daily paper that ‘Roy Bridge is planning a celebration on January 19 to mark the occasion – with more than 300,000 people expected to attend’! It’ll require a miracle for Roy Bridge to cope with this amazing influx.

* ‘What weather’! That’s the daily greeting from under the umbrellas, the anorak hoods and the assorted Lochaber bunnetry of everyone you meet. Well, it is January!

*  It was Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team’s annual dinner dance in the Alex on Saturday night. As you can imagine, the crack was brilliant. At what other function, for example, would you witness an ‘Eighteensome Reel’ danced by 18 men? Willie Anderson won the bottle of Ben Nevis whisky which was the prize for the tiebreaker in the Novelty Waltz. And it was drinks all round from Willie as a result. Give Willie his due, if not his Mountain Dew, because, by the time he had topped up the glasses of his rescue team colleagues there wasn’t a drop left for himself.

*  There was a very nice touch, too, at the mountain rescue team ‘do’. Two £50 cheques were handed out, one to the Lochaber team and the other to representatives of the Glencoe team  who were invited on along to the night. The cheques had been sent from Fareham in Hampshire by Florence Riley, a keen hillwalker, who had been a patient in the Belford Hospital 17 years ago. She sent the donations to Anne Naughton, one of the staff who had nursed her, and with whom she had kept in touch over the years. ‘Will you pass the enclosed cheques to the right people for me,’ was Florence’s message. She went on to write: ‘I hope the money will be useful to help the rescue lads and lasses in their wonderful work.’

* ‘What would you like for your birthday?’ asked David Sedgwick’s family. ‘A Hibs shirt, please’ was the obvious request from the keen Hibees fan. The package duly arrived, wrapped in green paper. David opened it and inside was – a Rangers strip! David couldn’t believe it. However, just as he was singing the blues another package was produced and inside was the coveted Hibernian jersey. David was in no doubt as to who had set him up with the Rangers top. ‘It was John Stafford at Cost Cutters,’ he guessed correctly.

* I have in front of me what the Ministry of Defence still describes as a ‘signal’. This one, however, is from Nevis Radio, stating its ‘signal’ had been picked up in Finland by a holidaying Italian radio enthusiast. Aye, Senor Giovanni Bellabarba was well chuffed. As was Malcolm Brown, who said delightedly: ‘Surely now there must be hope for Glenfinnan, Invergarry and Onich getting Nevis Radio reception?’

* Helen didn’t win the £1,000 prize in a breakfast TV word game. She did get her own back, however. Helen had quickly sussed out ‘Dynasty’ was the answer. She had then given a lot of thought as to how she should submit her entry. ‘I know,’ Helen mused. ‘I’ll send it in on a postcard of Ben Nevis. No-one else will think of that and it might catch the judge’s eye.’ Next morning, through the post, Helen received a postcard – of Ben Nevis. She had written her name and address so prominently on her TV submission that it was delivered back to her. Helen’s stamped, addressed postcard will go down well in the family annals.

* A statement from Fort William Football Club: ‘We will be seeing the Old Year out with this message. We reckon 1995 is likely to be an eventful year for FWFC and have high hopes we can get the club on its feet both on and off the park.’ Meanwhile, has anyone got a photograph of Claggan Park? A football fanatic from Madrid – yes, Madrid – collects stadium, pitch and park pictures as a hobby.  Super Ally’s ‘Golden Boots’ haven’t been seeing much action of late. So maybe he’ll qualify for similar comment to that meted out, on BBC Radio Scotland, to the effect that ‘Billy Dodds has gone six goals without a game’.

* The sharp-eyed among you would have noted the ‘Three in a Row’ but no bonus point chalked up by a daily paper last week. Incredibly its editions of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all carried, in the same column on page two, exactly the same ‘news items’ each day. Baffled readers could have been forgiven for  having a sense of deja vu when they saw the duplicated stories on Wednesday. They must have been incredulous when these reappeared on Thursday. I asked the paper for a quote or three – even a humorous comment. But not three, nor two, nor even one has been forthcoming.