RETRO

Roamer

The Oban Times - - DISTRICTS -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.