More anecdotes from mid 1980s
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.