Musing from summer of 1987
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.