Mus­ing from sum­mer of 1987

The Oban Times - - Districts -

Did you no­tice that Banavie sig­nal box was de­mol­ished in a sin­gle day? It came crash­ing to the ground on the sab­bath. The speed with which it was ‘un­built’ was, how­ever, more than matched by the alacrity with which sou­venir hunters nicked the sign­boards pro­claim­ing ‘Banavie’, which had been at­tached for decades to the sides of the cabin.

Norman’s bike had a near one last week. There it was, perched on the back of the dust­cart (as we would call it), ready for him to take it off and take him­self off at the end of the day’s col­lec­tion. But a slight op­er­a­tional mis­un­der­stand­ing saw the bike get­ting per­ilously close to the jaws of the crusher. Only a timely in­ter­ven­tion saved Norman hav­ing to trans­fer his bike into his haver­sack.

The Pier­head Piper’s daily recitals are be­com­ing fa­mous the length and breadth of the coun­try. As he plays to the tourists com­ing on and off the loch cruises, his reper­toire is be­ing ‘broad­cast’ si­mul­ta­ne­ously to many other au­di­ences, far and wide. What mir­a­cle of modern science is this? The an­swer is sim­ple. In fact, ‘the an­swer’ is the op­er­a­tive phrase. You see, when the phone rings, and is an­swered, in cer­tain lo­cal busi­ness premises grouped around Sta­tion Square, the call­ers can hear the bag­pipe strains. So much so that one lo­cal sec­re­tary was asked by a sup­plier phon­ing from Lon­don – ‘Do your em­ploy­ers have that bag­pipe back­ground mu­sic on all the time?’

I’d like to men­tion the speedy and brave ac­tions of a lo­cal rail­way­man – an ac­com­plished swim­mer – last week. He went to the aid of two non-swim­mer col­leagues who had fallen into the river at Monessie Gorge. He in­sisted on ‘no pub­lic­ity’. But his coura­geous deed has not gone un­no­ticed.

And how about the wee Roy Bridge lad who was very late home for his tea? ‘Where on earth have you been?’, his irate mother stormed. ‘Down in Glas­gow,’ piped up the wee fella, pro­vok­ing a skite on the lug, along with the in­evitable: ‘Don’t be so cheeky!’ While you’re at pri­mary school, I sup­pose it isn’t easy to be too con­vinc­ing about some­thing which seems com­mon­place to you. But our young lo­cal hero had, in­deed, been to Glas­gow and back after four o’clock, cour­tesy of the dad of two of his pals who flew his he­li­copter down to the city for spares, and gave the young­sters an ‘air­ing’.

One lo­cal ho­tel has gone all clean­li­ness con­scious. There are no­tices in its loos pro­claim­ing ‘Noth­ing at all is to go down this toi­let.’ Work that one out...

Minibus full of for­eign gentle­men un­load­ing their climb­ing gear at the road en­trance to the Belford. All of them looked a bit sur­prised, ob­vi­ously won­der­ing: ‘Is this re­ally a park­ing area?’ Well, they were in the right. The sign on the A82/ Belford Road is wrongly po­si­tioned and points into the hospi­tal, and not to View­forth. Mind you, it doesn’t say ‘Climbers’ Hospi­tal’, ei­ther.

One of our lo­cal sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions re­ceived a rather sarky let­ter signed by the fi­nan­cial di­rec­tor of one of our lo­cal un­sport­ing com­pa­nies. The mis­sive, most of the text for which was cribbed from an ex­pert on ‘how not to win or re­tain cus­tomers and in­flu­ence their fu­ture spend­ing’ sug­gested that the sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion should do the de­cent thing and pay their bill. This was met with a prompt re­sponse in sim­i­lar vein, the bot­tom line be­ing that, not only had the ac­count been paid, nay, over­paid, but that a com­pany sig­na­tory had en­dorsed this fact. Now, in view of the en­su­ing ‘credit con­trol’ cor­re­spon­dence, the sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions did not wish a credit note for the bal­ance – they wanted a mon­e­tary re­fund, thank you.

It is ac­cepted that the High­lander vies with the Spa­niard as far as time­keep­ing goes – both favour­ing the mañana op­tion. But, did you hear about the Lochaber con­trac­tors who, after say­ing their ‘good­byes’ to their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies, slowly made their way to a town in Mid­dle Eng­land to at­tend a trade ex­hi­bi­tion and con­fer­ence? Well, they cer­tainly weren’t late. In­deed they were, in fact, a month early . They had mixed up their months. I won­der what ev­ery­one had to say when they got home.

New bar­maid in one of our High Street pubs. Vis­i­tor comes in and when he got to the bar the new start greeted him with: ‘I’m sure I’ve seen you some­where be­fore.’ He replied, say­ing that as he had never ever been in Scot­land, that did seem a bit un­likely. Noth­ing loth, the new bar­maid went on: ‘Well you must have a dou­ble.’ To which, of course, the cus­tomer re­sponded with a broad smile: ‘That’s very kind of you – could you make it a Glen­morangie, please?’

So much pub­lic­ity these days about the var­i­ous as­pects of fish farm­ing that I sup­pose the fol­low­ing tale has been in­evitable. Dur­ing the High­land Re­gional Coun­cil de­bate last week as to whether Loch Ness should be en­tered for the farmed salmon stakes, men­tion was also made of Loch Arkaig. I quote from the min­utes: ‘A case was cited in Loch Arkaig, near Fort Wil­liam, where fish cages have been “tucked” into the loch, and are not even vis­i­ble from the nearby Glen­finnan Mon­u­ment.’ Sounds a bit fishy to me. Or else, some­one in the re­gion is a proper Char­lie when it comes to the ge­og­ra­phy of Lochaber. But, then, what changes?

If Lochaber Dis­trict Coun­cil’s fi­nance di­rec­tor is not per­mit­ted to make money for the ratepay­ers by ‘on­lend­ing’, then should the re­gion be al­lowed to ac­cept the large prof­its gen­er­ated by un­sus­pect­ing tourists who feed our (no pay­ment re­quired) car park­ing ma­chines after hours and on Sun­days? Per­haps the re­gion will use this ex­tra cash to place binoc­u­lars on fixed stances within the car parks so that vis­i­tors can read the small print on the no­tices at­tached to the bot­tom of the ma­chines. That would save me my Sun­day rit­ual of telling them – ‘No need to pay on Sun­days!’

Fort Wil­liam Se­nior Sec­ondary School staff after a re­lax­ing break from bad­minton in the gym.

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