What a pear

THE news story about the Westminster Government giving a giant ferry contract to a company with no ferries reminds us of some of the quainter ferry stories we have run in The Diary, including the Scot, now living in Australia, who knew he was back home in Scotland when, on a return trip, his wife spotted a basket with a small selection of fruit, in the cafeteria on the Rothesay ferry and selected a pear.

Approaching the counter, she asked the attendant: "How much for the pear?" "Dunno," came the reply, "No-one's bought fruit before. Ach, just keep it.”

In a flap

THE Herald frequently runs news stories about bad weather disrupting ferry services, but the locals it seems are not impressed. A reader visiting Brodick on Arran once saw a sign stuck to the newsagent's door stating: "No papers." Below was the explanation: "You may think it's not windy, I may think it's not windy, but the CalMac psychic decided yesterday at lunchtime there was a chance a seagull might fart causing a sudden gust of wind.”

All aboard

ANOTHER news story is the immigrants in France sneaking on board British-bound lorries at ferry terminals. A Wishaw lorry driver once told us that he was in the queue for the Channel ferry in France when a character waving a fistful of Euros offered the cash in return for allowing immigrants to slip aboard his trailer.

Our man told him to beat it, but at that an Irish driver walked up, took the money, and undid the ties on the canvas sides of the truck next to the Wishaw driver, and the waiting travellers eagerly jumped aboard. The Irishman then pocketed the money and jumped in the cab of his lorry – which was further down the queue from the one he undid.

Chew on that

STUART Craig in his book about Clyde ferries, Around The Clyde (And Other Places) in 20 Years, told of two young lads put aboard a ship in Glasgow by their father for a day cruise, and one of them asking the purser: "Mister, can you tell us when we get to Rothesay, please." After berthing at Rothesay, the ship casts off and minutes later the purser remembers about the boys and gets the skipper to turn the ship back to the pier so that the boys can get off. When it ties up again the purser seeks out the lads and tells them: "That's you lads, we're at Rothesay, off you get."

"Oh no," says one of the boys, "we're no getting aff. Our faither telt us not to eat our sandwiches until we got to Rothesay.”

Oh, Chicago

A READER told us of an American tourist family driving on to a Scottish pier just after the CalMac ferry had sailed. The father accosted the official on the pier: "Gee, man! We've come all the way from Chicago to catch that ferry!" to which the CalMac man replied: "Well, if you'd left Chicago 10 minutes earlier, you would've caught it."

Ferry nuff

THE old Renfrew Ferry on the outskirts of Glasgow once inspired the great cartoonist Bud Neil who drew the Renfrew Ferry "captain" resplendent in gold braided uniform bending down, pointing up river and saying to an amazed, open-mouthed wee boy: "Yonder, to the North it lies, dark, brooding and mysterious – Yoker."


TALKING about Americans, a reader once told us: "I was on the ferry from Gourock to Dunoon on a pouring wet winter's night when the American submarine base at the Holy Loch was still operating. As we lined up on deck in the lashing sleet to get off the boat, a wee wummin slipped beside a very tall American wearing a huge Stetson and said, 'D'you mind if I stand under your hat, son?’"

Some like it hot

VERY wise the ferry folk. A reader on the Ullapool to Stornoway ferry once observed a drunk passenger being refused black coffee by catering staff. When the drunk eventually fell asleep our reader asked why he had been refused the coffee. He was told: "There is nothing worse than a waking drunk."

Road to Renfrew

THE Herald published an archive picture of film star Dorothy Lamour visiting the giant Singer's sewing machine factory in Clydebank. It reminded a Glasgow reader: "As a 14-year-old in 1950 I was on the slipway of the Renfrew Ferry on the way to the Renfrew baths when a big limo appeared waiting to cross. A very glamorous lady came out and started talking to those on the slip.

"A man informed us that was Dorothy Lamour. She had been to the Singer's factory. When I went back to school I told my mates that I saw Dorothy Lamour waiting for the Renfrew Ferry. 'Aye, that'll be right!' was the response’."