Archie had some bottle

It's the end of an era for kids everywhere
It's the end of an era for kids everywhere

An old Bob Dylan track The Times They Are a Changin’ sprung to mind following a recent announcement that rocked the fabric of Scottish life.

The only thing saving us from faceless, impersonal online shopping will no longer be available to us after this year’s end.

Yes, the makers of Irn Bru, Barr’s, have decided to call time on returning their bottles for cash – income that probably kept many a corner shop open when excited kids would spend four bottles worth on sweets. Dentists will probably see a decline in business now too.

Not that it would get you much these days, mind you. I remember you could get two Wham bars – massive they were – for a bottle when I was wee and it would last for hours. Wham bars are about the size of a penny chew now.

I know one legend who will be spinning in his grave at the news – Archie, or auld Airchie as we used to call him.

In the 1980s and ‘90s you used to see this old chap collecting Barr’s bottles everywhere, almost every day you would see him with carrier bags full of them.

And it wasn’t just in Bathgate where I lived he’d wander. There were reported sightings all throughout the central belt, at football matches, even as far up as Perth once.

You would always see him on a Friday which was Bathgate market day, probably one of his most lucrative venues.

There were rumours he had millions tucked away somewhere from the proceeds of his venture.

Because of Airchie, you had to sneak into shops with your Barr’s bottles so your friends wouldn’t see you or they would shout “Airchie!” at you and embarrass you in front of the girls. They would want a bit of whatever you got with the money though.