RETRO Roamer

The Oban Times - - Districts -

More ‘Roamerisms’ from the mid 1980s

I felt suit­ably up­lifted when I saw a Fort Wil­liam con­trac­tor on his knees out­side the church he at­tends – un­til I re­alised he was re­plac­ing a win­dow frame.

The route march for coun­cil of­fi­cers be­gan on Mon­day. In in­clement weather they made their way, walk­ing, from the Trans­port Oval Car Park to Lochaber House. Just like us or­di­nary mor­tals, in fact. I hear, how­ever, there has been a galling lit­tle hitch be­cause High­land Re­gion hasn’t yet got its bol­lards un­der con­trol and that, hor­ror of hor­rors, tourists’ cars have been park­ing in the hal­lowed spa­ces.

Here is the tale of the teabag. Once upon a time it was pos­si­ble to buy tea – there were no teabags in those days – at the High Street premises of KK’s, McDon­ald Broth­ers, Coop­ers, Lip­tons, Rid­dlers, MacLen­nans, Hughie MacGil­livrays, MacEwen’s and the Co- op­er­a­tive. An Gear­as­dan lo­cals will re­call three of th­ese es­tab­lish­ments were at the West End. Last week, how­ever, with the West End now bereft of gro­cers’ shops, an el­derly lady went into the Arts and Crafts em­po­rium, sighted some ‘Sou­venir Teabags’, and asked, ‘Are th­ese the only teabags you have?’ Jimmy replied, ‘ Yes, but I’ll let you have half a dozen of our own to keep you go­ing. Have you run out com­pletely?’ Then came a re­sponse which will sound as as­ton­ish­ing to you as it did to me. ‘ We’re stay­ing at a ho­tel miles out of town and we’ve been told by the staff that they’re only al­lowed to put out one teabag per room per day’. At least she left the Arts and Crafts with enough free teabags to last a week – by the stan­dards of one Lochaber ho­tel!

Two likely lads from Glas­gow were up here as guests at a wed­ding at the week­end. In the early hours, af­ter the re­cep­tion, they hailed a taxi to take them to their digs at Lun­davra. But they couldn’t re­mem­ber the ad­dress where they had left their suit­cases. They searched in vain, then flagged down an­other taxi. The driver was un­able to help them in their quest, but he felt so sorry for the lads that he of­fered to put them up for the rest of the night. Which ex­plains why, later in the day, the taxi driver’s mum was seen car­ry­ing out a tray of tea and toast to the taxi parked out­side her door!

How about this for the ‘hair of the dog’? A cer­tain con­trac­tor south of Cor­ran – there are quite a few of them down that way – was called out by his lo­cal ho­tel to at­tend to a late night emer­gency. Ear­lier, he had treated him­self to one or two ‘small sen­sa­tions’ so he walked to the ho­tel, ac­com­pa­nied by faith­ful doggy friend. Job com­pleted, con­trac­tor wended his way home. In the morn­ing he got up to let the dog out. No dog to be seen. Con­trac­tor opens the back door and there’s his dog, more shak­ing its head than wag­ging its tail. It had found its own way home from the ho­tel af­ter its mas­ter had left it there all night.

I reckon we now need a horse war­den in Lochaber. Judg­ing by the amount of ma­nure fes­toon­ing the pave­ments at places such as In­ver­lochy road end and Ach­in­tore Beag, there is a re­quire­ment for an equine equerry. The by-prod­uct could be sold to the coun­cil’s gar­den­ing squad. Horse Guards Pa­rade hasn’t a lookin com­pared to the amount of ‘cac’ in and around the Fort.

I see the Sun­day Post cred­ited Fort’s goal against El­gin City to John Den­ni­son in­stead of col­league Gary Dun­lop, who is a butcher to trade. As John him­self says: ‘It’s ob­vi­ous the pa­per doesn’t know the dif­fer­ence be­tween Den­ni­son and veni­son.’

Ice- cream van con­voy dot­ting about Lochaber. Quite in­ter­est­ing to see – and hear – them hunt­ing in pairs. Stop us – and buy two.

There’s a new ‘run­about’ ticket for the Mal­laig Sun­day ex­cur­sions. Pas­sen­gers can now board the train at Loch Eil Out­ward Bound Sta­tion af­ter un­der­go­ing the ex­ten­sive cour­ses at the cen­tre. Thus equipped they’ll be able to tackle the as­sault course at Mal­laig of cat­walk, buf­fers and fence to en­able them to get in to Seag­ull City. Mean­while, three lassies from New­cas­tle came back to the Fort on the steam train af­ter com­plet­ing the Kryp­ton Fac­tor poser as to how to get into Mal­laig Sta­tion. They said: ‘ We were so late in fig­ur­ing it out they should re­name Mal­laig as Manyana.’

The £10 win­ner of the Glas­gow Her­ald’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ post­card com­pe­ti­tion is a Bal­lachul­ish man. The card was cap­tioned: ‘All the Glory of Fort Wil­liam Bus Sta­tion on a Dull Day’.

There was Alex Al­lan com­ing up Ainslie Lane on Mon­day morn­ing af­ter find­ing some­where to park in Low Street. En­ter­ing the High Street, he ob­served a wine- coloured Re­nault ‘kerb crawl­ing’ to­wards him. Alex put a step on it to reach the pave­ment and then thought. ‘Funny, there’s no- one in that car’! So the in­trepid AF Al­lan ran af­ter the mo­tor which was on a wee bit of an in­cline. He jumped into the pas­sen­ger seat and pulled on the hand­brake. As he was sit­ting there in the car, on dou­ble yellow lines, a knock came to the side win­dow. ‘Is this your car, sir?’ asked a voice, ac­com­pa­nied by a uni­form. The num­ber of the car hav­ing been duly noted in the pad for that pur­pose, the in­formed Alex, and uni­formed ‘po­lis’, went their sep­a­rate ways. The Re­nault stayed put in the mean­time. At least Alex wasn’t asked if he was in­sured to drive the car while sit­ting in the pas­sen­ger seat.

The King Ge­orge V ar­rives at Fort Wil­liam.

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