More anec­dotes from mid 1980s

The Oban Times - - Districts -

Nice one, Jimmy! Af­ter the ‘ wake’ for the pass­ing of the tele­phone ex­change switch­boards, Jimmy di­alled 100. ‘Hello!’ said he. ‘Did I leave my jacket in the staff room? I haven’t seen it since last night.’

In­ver­ness 100 ap­par­ently reck­oned it was a nui­sance call and hung up on Jimmy. I doubt Jimmy’s jacket is still ‘hung up’ as well!

Caol res­i­dents did a dou­ble take when they saw not one but two po­lis pa­trolling – on foot, mark you – through the streets of their vil­lage which is, of course, the largest in Scot­land. To many, it brought back mem­o­ries of the early days when the boys in blue put in the oc­ca­sional ap­pear­ance.

While the game of Triv­ial Pur­suits was get­ting big licks up­stairs in the coun­cil cham­bers, the stair­cases within Lochaber House were also get­ting big licks – of paint. Ob­vi­ously some staff mem­bers weren’t told about this fresh­en­ing up process. I was head­ing up­stairs for a meet­ing and met one work­ers with a lib­eral sup­ply of wet paint – from the ban­is­ter rail – on her hand. Then one of her col­leagues ap­peared with paint marks on his jacket. Claims, in quin­tu­pli­cate, please, to the chair­man of the Re­sources and Gen­eral Pur­poses Com­mit­tee.

Ster­ling stuff at the li­cens­ing board, with a mere male stand­ing in for the lady who had ap­plied for a drinks li­cence on be­half of an or­gan­i­sa­tion in Kin­loch. ‘ You’re not Miss B...’ ob­served the as­tute lady chair­woman. Then, point­ing to the ser­ried ranks of lo­cal lawyers, she went on, ‘Are you rep­re­sented by one of these peo­ple?’ Mere male was. So the clerk was in­structed to make a note of the ‘slight al­ter­ation’.

Then there was the ap­pli­ca­tion by a post of­fice/ store down Ard­na­mur­chan way for an off-sales li­cence. Agent (one of ‘these peo­ple’) for the ap­pli­cant apol­o­gised for the forms be­ing lodged late. ‘They were posted in time,’ said he, ‘and if one could rely on the postal ser­vice they would have ar­rived on time.’ Said the chair­man: ‘But surely the ap­pli­cant op­er­ates the post of­fice?’ This was fol­lowed by the in­ti­ma­tion that the fire ser­vice had no ob­jec­tions to the is­su­ing of the li­cence. Then it tran­spired that the stand-in ap­pli­cant was a part-time fire­man.

Those of you, and you are many, who like to know what the big yel­low he­li­copters get up to be­fore and af­ter they land in the West End car park, will like this one. A Sea King ap­peared last week­end on a res­cue mis­sion to re­trieve four of the RAF’s own per­son­nel who had be­come be­nighted in the Ard­gour hills. In fair­ness, the quar­tet did man­age to ex­tri­cate them­selves by their own ef­forts. But I gather that this was due, largely, to the fact that they had heard over their ra­dios that Lochaber Moun­tain Res­cue Team per­son­nel were about to board the he­li­copter en route to giv­ing them a short, sharp course in nav­i­ga­tion.

This is true. A some­what ine­bri­ated lo­cal wor­thy, wan­der­ing along the High Street, sees a sign which is new to him. ‘Heel Bar’, it reads. Thinks to him­self ‘There’s a town pub I didn’t know ex­isted. Must look in there.’ Does so, and was none too pleased to find an ar­ray of footwear had got there be­fore him. Not true, how­ever, was the story of the two lads who had a few and de­cided to go for an Indian meal – and were none too pleased to find that Curry’s was shut.

Park­ing at the Belford is worse than ever, these days. With the car park it­self hav­ing been closed, the aban­doned ve­hi­cles on the ap­proaches to the Belford have to be seen to be be­lieved. One pan­tech­ni­con, with de­liv­er­ies for the Belford, very nearly flat­tened a mo­tor parked on the pave­ment, when the huge ve­hi­cle was be­ing re­versed into the hos­pi­tal grounds. Then, would you be­lieve it, a wi­fie drove straight up to the Belford front door, block­ing in an­other car there, and got out. Then she asked re­cep­tion to take her keys and move her mo­tor if it was in the way! She’d been watch­ing too many Amer­i­can TV pro­duc­tions, I’d say.

Lo­cal story – and a true one. Ear­lier this month an In­ver­lochy mum took her four-year- old daugh­ter along to the school to be as­sessed for her en­try into the pri­mary. One of the ques­tions the wee lassie was asked was: ‘ What is a mile?’ With­out hes­i­ta­tion she re­sponded ‘It’s down past my knee.’ This was a new one on the in­ter­viewer, so he re­peated the ques­tion. ‘It’s down be­low my knee,’ was the con­firmed re­ply. Later in the pro­ceed­ings he tried again, and got the same an­swer, ‘It’s down past my knee.’ Asses­sor and mum had a con­fab and mum asked daugh­ter: ‘Why did you keep telling the man that a mile was down past your knee?’ Back came the clever tot: ‘ Well, mum, you’re al­ways say­ing that my skirt’s hang­ing down a mile past my knee.’

Aye, it’s a fine in­sti­tu­tion the Royal Mail. Have you seen what it’s do­ing now? Fol­low­ing a time and motion study, our ped­alling post­men are be­ing supplied with ladies’ bikes. Which means, of course, not stren­u­ous leg move­ments for the posties.

Fort cler­gy­man needed a hair­cut. A mem­ber of his flock said he would be happy to shear the locks of the rev­erend gentle­man with his brand new elec­tri­cal ma­chine. Plugged it in.

‘It seems to run very qui­etly,’ the cleric reck­oned. ‘ Yes, but it isn’t cut­ting very well,’ replied the crest­fallen bar­ber. Fur­ther ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed that the ma­chine had no in­nards. Nei­ther mir­a­cle nor elec­tri­cian were go­ing to get it to work.

So, no trendy ton­sure for the Rev. But I did hear, since that the bar­ber, whose face by now was match­ing the colour of his hair, had a win­ning bet on De­mon Bar­ber at Ayr that day. So, now, maybe he’ll in­vest in an elec­tric cut­ter for hair which runs on more than – air!

Fella in the post of­fice – OK it’s all one word as ‘postof­fice’ in Lochaber – handed over a form to the clerk be­hind the counter. ‘Have you any iden­ti­fi­ca­tion?’ he was asked. No driv­ing li­cence, pass­port or even a bill were forth­com­ing. Then the fella had a brain­wave, rolled up his sleeve, and re­vealed a tat­too – with his name across it.

In the days when the big ships could berth at Fort William pier.

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