Horreurs! Dommages!

This is a further extract of Peter Biggar’s early history of the club, gleaned from Minute books and logbooks. It’s a shock-horror expose of controversy at AGM’s; that could never happen nowadays. Could it? The photo is of the Fannichs, taken on a club meet in 2018 by Arthur.

Ordinarily the Club’s activities have been free from the breath of controversy, but there are notable counter instances.  In October of ’53 it was discovered that Alec Sutherland had not paid his sub. and his name was “deleted from the books” (an oversight no doubt hastily remedied).

At the A.G.M. in ’57 the Club might well have had its first woman president who would have pre-dated Alison Robertson by the best part of forty years.  What happened was that Miss Gwen Bush, by all accounts an excellent Meets Secretary and a great servant to the Club, proposed the sitting President Bill Cooper; he returned the compliment and proposed her: he won and a historic victory was prevented.

On the hill in ’55 members of a meet to Loch Droma got lost in a snowstorm on Sgurr Mor and descended to Fannaich Lodge instead of the Ullapool road where the bus awaited them.  Consternation was averted by a ‘phone call to Aultguish Inn.  The owner took her Landrover up the snowbound road to Loch Droma to alert the folk on the bus.  The committee sent her 7/6 petrol money, a letter and a box of chocolates.

In recent times, A.G.M.’s have tended to be somewhat sleepy affairs, but the Meeting of ’64 was not at all soporific.  When it came to electing the Secretary-Treasurer, the Inverness equivalent of all-Hell broke loose.  The incumbent was Ross Martin, again by all accounts a most respected and dedicated Club servant.  He was proposed by the newly elected President Cammy MacLeay.  Up stands the maverick figure of Phil Larder who has already been the subject of a severe rebuke by a former President (Gil Ward) for “rowdiness on the bus”, and this before he was even admitted to membership!  Larder proposes several members in turn to stand against Martin.  None of them would do it.  Then – horror of horrors – he proposed a vote of “No confidence” in Martin.  A deathly silence ensued.  But nobody would second the motion.  In the end the President – who must have been wondering what he had taken on – declared Martin elected.  There was a communal gasp of relief: the attempt of an upstart to impugn the honour of a noted Club officer had been averted.  But the story doesn’t quite end there, for five years later Larder himself was actually elected President (’69).  He was President for one year: a dashing,  somewhat cavalier figure with a R.A.F. background.  There is some merely anecdotal evidence that in the matter of computing the number of Munros he had climbed his calculations could be erratic.  Be this as it may, Ross Martin is almost universally adjudged to have done a great deal for the Club yet he, like Gwen Bush before him, was never made President.  A personality clash perhaps?

The poverty of information about dinners and meets in the early years is due to the relative failure of another club tradition: that of recording its doings in a logbook.  As early as the very first committee meeting in April ’50, the Secretary was instructed to purchase a “logbook to record the activities of members”.  Alas, alas, only one of these documents is extant.  With great unwisdom it was decreed that early logbooks should be brought to social gatherings and lent to members for their amusement and edification.  Nobody thought of the future and, of course, many logbooks were borrowed never to be returned.  What a mine of information they must contain for the would-be historian.  Is it too late to hope that some former member, hearing of the Club’s 50th Birthday might find in his or her attic a musty volume full of inky scribblings and perhaps even faded photographs?