This week has seen the reintroduction of the dining car (First Class) on the West Highland Line. Shades of Skeesh and Allan.
The only thing that surprises me about the bringing back of this facility/ luxury, after such a long interval, is the price: £18.90 return inclusive of the meal. I reckon it would be more nostalgic to call it Eighteen Guineas.
I did wonder, however, whether poached salmon might have made a comeback on the menu. In the good old days when the dynamic duo were in charge the answer, invariably, to queries in Glasgow was ‘Sorry, we only serve poached salmon on the southbound journey’ from Mallaig and Fort William. Work that one out, folks.
Oh, the discomfiture of Ally Cameron, prime mover of the Fort William branch of the Aberdeen FC Supporters Club. What did his wee fella want for his birthday? A Rangers scarf. My, was Ally’s face red!
I was intrigued to see two ‘towrists’ sitting in Boni’s on Wednesday morning. They were seemingly intent on having lunch but, as the only other people around the restaurant were the workmen renovating the premises prior to the re- opening, they would have had a long wait.
Meanwhile, across the street, Eric Wallace was caught without lights. Not on one of his vehicles, you understand. No, his shop was packed and the ‘towrists’ and locals were taking their turn to be served, when the whole place was plunged into darkness. Not only that but the freezer went kaput.
The cause? Excavations under the shop which had revealed the former Caledonian Hotel’s ‘washing well’ – a sump well fi lled with water to wash crockery and cutlery. Not ‘wishing well’, although Eric could have been forgiven for preferring that function. ‘Well! Well! Well!’, Eric was heard to say.
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team’s PR stall in the adjoining Cameron Square certainly took a trick. Particularly as Genghis Khanderson was on parade, wearing his thonged thing. I hope he doesn’t run out of gas because on Monday he was delegated to transport a gas heater up to the CIC Hut and forgot to take the cylinder.
This was in advance of GK being sent back to Edinburgh for elocution lessons, ken, prior to the royal visit next week. It is already rumoured that the Prince of Wales and Genghis Khanderson will be comparing ‘notes’. Both share an interesting social distinction. Neither of them carries any money.
Tightrope walking, dram drinking, joke cracking. Prince Charles took Lochaber by storm when he paid a whirlwind visit to Fort William to meet the likely lads of the UK’s busiest mountain rescue team.
‘A wonderful day, a great day, everyone enjoyed it. Prince Charles enjoyed it, we enjoyed it, our wives enjoyed it’. That was the summing up by Donald Watt, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team leader of the red letter day.
The welcome for Prince Charles when he arrived in the Fort was heightened when, wearing the kilt, he stepped out of his helicopter. After meeting everyone, it was off to Steall Bothy for a ceilidh. The Prince was required to tackle the wire bridge which spans 60 feet of the River Nevis at Steall. He accomplished this with aplomb, to be met on the other bank by 25 rescue team members waiting to greet the ‘Prince Over The Water’.
From there it was a beeline for the bothy, and a Prince among Mountain Men embarked on 45 minutes of repartee. And some craic it was too, as the sounds of gales of laughter came booming out of the bothy to the world’s press waiting outside. The occasional quiet period, equally frustrating for the reporters, was explained by the fact all the men inside were consuming a dram – or two, ken!
Meanwhile, no room at the local inns. But the ‘towrist’ office and the Salvation Army became the saviours when last Tuesday’s rush developed into overflow mode. The police station came to the rescue as well. ‘Lochaber Once More’ accommodated all the visitors.
The things you hear in the High Street. Male half of a Glasgow Fair holidaying couple – with three youngsters – standing outside MacFarlane the Chemist’s. ‘You won’t get any plastic plants in there,’ said the self-assured husband. His long suffering wife gave back with ‘It’s plastic pants I’m looking for. Away you to the pub out of the road!’
I gather one of the ‘full supporting features’ at the cinema these summer evenings is pipe band music. Apparently the strains of the pipes are providing more than interval music ‘at the pictures’ as the pipers and drummers gather in Cameron Square. But surely that has to be an improvement on the two gramophone records they used to put on in the Playhouse?
It could only happen in Fort William. In one of those High Street chain shops to be precise. For reasons best known to the owners there is no telephone in it. It so happened the manageress locked her keys in the till. So she had to go out to a phone box to make contact with ‘higher authority’ – leaving the premises in the capable hands of the window cleaner.
There’s a suggestion Mallaig sheep will be sent down to Fort William to attend to the grass growing in among the seats in Cameron Square. For the money it has cost to pave the square, I would have thought the contractors would have been happy to hand over the grazing rights in perpetuity.
The Studio Cinema in Cameron Square, Fort William, prior to the last picture show.