THE ROAMER column was the highlight of a Thursday for many Lochaber readers, so it returns this week with a look back at the events and people that made it into Roamer columns between 1985 to 2016...
The Fort was busy over Easter, with the town’s retail establishments reaping the benefits. It must have been more fruitful than previous such holiday weekends because I overheard two shopkeepers make the unheard of comment of how pleased they were with their Easter takings.
How about the town clergyman who suddenly remembered, halfway through the Easter Sunday service, that he had left a chicken in the oven? Thankfully, by early afternoon, he was able to give thanks that all was well. Just as well it wasn’t Ash Wednesday.
And the Claggan man who reported to Lochaber District Council, prior to the weekend, that his granny had been blown off the roof during the recent high winds. Being on holiday, the council had done nothing about it. He reckoned if it was his mother-in-law, a squad would have been dispatched to investigate right away.
Young Man-About-The-Fort at the Milton Disco... Suavely he approached (from behind) a beautifully coiffed young person he thought he knew ‘from the back’. Over the shoulder he asked, ‘ Would you care to dance?’ As the would-be dancing partner swivelled round, the response to Man-About-The-Fort received was entirely unexpected – a fairly gentle cuff on the lug! For that person turned out to be a fella – complete with moustache and goatee beard to match his flowing tresses.
Hand me down my walking cane ... And, with that, two great-grannies from Kilmallie took themselves and their walking sticks ‘up the Glen’ to sign up as extras in Highlander. The pair, lifelong friends, will now be in the cast as 16th- century senior citizens. Interesting aspect of the current filming is that all the Lochaber Highlander extras have a great word to say about Sean Connery. He made time to chat with everyone – young and old – on set including the two Kilmallie great-grannies.
Transatlantic visitors were holidaying in an upmarket hotel near Fort William. On the second morning there they announced to their chauffeur they wanted to go out to dinner that evening. ‘And where would you wish to drive to?’ asked the chauffeur, thinking, no doubt, the destination would be fairly close at hand. Came the reply: ‘Gleneagles, thank you.’
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, what greater shock could a Lochaber piper receive than to be offered something other than the customary dram for his services? I hear a certain celebrated piper, playing for a group of wealthy visitors, was asked if he would like a cup of tea or something else. Of course the piper plumped for the ‘something else’ and got a cup of coffee. The lesson learned from this is that some welloff tourists just don’t give a dram!
Quote of the week from the recently resuscitated Fort William Drama Club. The club, which folded six years ago, has been revived, with 25 people attending a make or break meeting. Already, however, the productions are a wee bit unbalanced because more females than menfolk are prepared to get in on the act. Or, as one lady member put it: ‘We need to get more men in the club!’
You’ll probably think I’m kidding. I’m not. This is completely true. A couple of my acquaintances with Lochaber connections, who now live in the south of England, have just had a baby girl. Their surname is Dance and they’ve called their daughter Kayleigh. Honest!
Great consternation within the retail community in ‘The Village’. So much so that phone calls were being made at high noon to one of their shop- owning colleagues to check that everything was okay. Apparently she, and her staff, had shut up shop and gone to lunch at midday, thinking it was one o’clock!
I see Lochaber District Council has given its approval ‘in principal’ for the purchase of a new word processing machine. It certainly appears to be needed, as, no doubt, it will be paid for out of ‘ capitle expenditure’.
Following my tale of the fate of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Chair’ which was last heard of at Fassifern, East Annat and Corpach, it will come as no surprise for you to learn that it has turned up – at Falkirk, East Wemyss, and Carlisle!
A waterbull in Loch Lundavra and Morag the Monster in Loch Morar. So why not elephants on the Road to the Isles? Well, that’s what the signs on the A830 near Loch Nan Uamh appear to be indicating. Some wag has drawn trunks and floppy ears on the cattle depicted on the notices.
❚ As Lochaber reigns supreme in the ‘fillum business’ these days, it’s about time our local connections with the industry are given honourable mention. A great opportunity for the production of tourism leaflets and signposting like ‘ Wonder Woman was here’, ‘This is where Local Hero was filmed’, ‘The Natives were Restless in Lochaber’, and ‘ Highlander made a comeback in this vicinity’.
It takes the Lochaber rain to help the growth of all that local long hair and those beards which are seen in Highlander. So, when the shooting has ended next month it looks like being boom time for the local barbers. Unless, of course, someone decides to present a ‘Hielan’ version of Hair – live at the All Weather Centre.
❚ I hear that, with impeccable timing, the A82 at Onich is to be chipped and tarred – beginning on May holiday Monday, 1985. That’s the start of the Scottish Six Days Motor Cycle Trials, of course.
I’m told that a few worthies who live alongside that stretch of road would like to do a fair amount of tarring of the Highway Authority personnel. And feathering as well!
Down Fort William’s memory lane.