RETRO Roamer

The Oban Times - - Districts -

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.

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