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...
■ There was the big Black Five letting off steam at the precise moment that ‘The Man in the White Suit’ was having his photy took beside the engine before sending it on its way to Mallaig. The result, as the train departed, was ‘The Man in the Black and White Soot Suit’! In fact clothing seemed to play a big part in the inaugural steam excursion. For a semaphore-style message on, shall we say, undergarments, was spelled out along a lineside building as the steam train passed by. ‘Slainte Mhath’ it read!
■ The Pipe Band marched through the High Street last Saturday. Outside the Argyll the drum major’s mace, having been despatched into the air, came to rest across the High Street telegraph wires, and that caused a bit of a blackout for a while! However the drummers didn’t beat a retreat, and the pipers just gied their bags a squeeze and played another key.
■ Has anyone seen Ginger Wilson’s new bunnet? £7 it cost him a couple of weeks ago. But then he left it, along with his walking stick, on a peg ‘somewhere’. When he retraced his steps it was gone! Ginger thought it might have been lifted by mistake. But I reckon if it has been half-inched I’m sure Ginger would like to administer a dose of the Ballachulish Bagpipes to the culprit!
■ ‘Notiss’! ‘Notiss’!, as Fort William Bellman, Donald MacDougall, used to shout. Well, the BA Club notiss board, sorry, notice board which reads, ‘The club will not be responsible for loss or damage to vehicles parked on club property’ is itself, at present parked on someone else’s property. If the committee want it back they’ll find it lying round the back of St Mary’s Hall, where it has been frequently ‘notissed’ over the past week.
■ I liked the decision at the council’s environmental health committee meeting where it was agreed that ‘action will be implemented’ following complaints by the Plantation Tenants’ Association about dogs fouling the pavements. It was minuted that ‘the fog warden is to make spot checks’.
■ Meanwhile, further down the hill, Mal, a very annoyed long-time resident of Alma Road went on record as saying: ‘If the council doesn’t do something about this dog dirt I’m going to take it into my own hands’.
■ John rolled home from the Volley at 8.30pm on Friday. His dinner had been ready, and cooling, since half six. ‘ What’s this?’ John queried, observing that he was receiving the cold shoulder. Came the reply: ‘That’s your after eight mince.’
■ Then there were the two well-made-up local lassies who went to the model exhibition in the Fort last week. Apparently they were somewhat miffed to discover it was all about trains and boats and planes. They had expected a fashion show and mannequin parade.
■ Conversation overheard in the High Street this week. Local, having given directions to overseas visitor, asked: ‘ Where do you come from?’ Tourist: ‘From Luxembourg.’ Local: ‘We don’t see many of you over here as a rule.’ Tourist: ‘Oh, there is a party of 20 of us.’ Local: ‘As many as that? I hope one of you put the lights out before you left’.
Down Fort William’s memory lane.
■ Youngish-looking Lochaber couple going their holidays. They took the Glasgow bus on the first stage. Having paid their fare they realised they’d been given too much change. So, totally honest, they pointed this out to the driver. ‘Oh! Thank you,’ said he. I took you for senior citizens, and charged you accordingly.
■ Did you know you are not having Hogmanay this year? According to a locally- produced calendar the date of December 31 doesn’t figure in 1985. Apparently the year ends on December 30. Mind you, for many of us, December 31 has often been a lost day anyway!
■ It must have come as something of a surprise for a local member of the legal profession to find himself being referred to in Fort William Sheriff Court as ‘Learned Adversary’, rather than ‘Learned Friend’.
■ Pity the local businessman who was searching the High Street at the weekend for a – knitting needle. So he could give his broken arm in plaster a wee scratch. ■ Crossword competition winner was Mrs Jean Bayliff, Glenpane Street, Caol.
■ As it is nearly Scottish Six Day Trials time, Malky reckons some enterprising outfit could start up a business manufacturing motor bikes. He has even come up with a few trade names – in Gaelic and English – to compete with Yamaha. Like Seo ma tha ( phonetically Shawmaha), Ciamar a tha (Kimmeraha), agus De an uair a tha e (Chaynooraha). Oidche Mhath!