At Random with Martin Laing

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Let’s all tackle litter

I was given a good ear-bashing the other day by a couple of chums about the amount of cigarette ends and chewing gum blighting Oban’s pavements and public areas.

They have a very good point.

It was only last year that the town centre improvements which transformed our already bonnie wee toon were completed. The cosmetic changes made a startling difference and all those involved have had their praises sung in this column in the past.

But littering is a real and pernicious problem for which there is no simple solution.

Only two weeks ago we published a report and a full page of photographs of some of the public-spirited souls – including a number of my colleagues at The Oban Times – who had given up weekend hours to take part in the big Oban spring clean. And I wrote in this space then lauding those who participated.

However, we can all play a part in addressing this issue.

Our schools have to educate our young people about the impacts of casually dropping rubbish, both in terms of the environment and the financial cost of paying other people to clear it up.

Our police officers could be more aggressive in dealing with the culprits and could adopt a tougher position – indeed, a zero tolerance approach – to clamp down on them.

And all of us could be more aware of littering and report those responsible.

There are numerous rubbish bins around the town centre so it is especially disappointing to see litter discarded often right next to the bins.

Anyone who smokes should dispose of their cigarette and cigar butts with more thought and the same goes for those who chew gum.

Let’s all take more care with our rubbish and urge others to do the same.

Honest John

I received an email from an admirably honest gentleman by the name of John Stott from the picturesque sounding St Bees.

John wrote: ‘Having retired to Wild West Cumbria, I can no longer get my Oban Times regularly. One of the treats of an expedition to the big city Carlisle is the slim chance of finding a copy of your newspaper for sale.  However, my last two successes were marred by the shopkeeper failing to scan your product on his fancy till, so I got it for nothing!

‘This cannot go on. Perhaps you could help this shop overcome its problems with new-fangled technology. Its name? Sainsbury’s!’

Two things piqued my interest: first, the aforementioned honesty in flagging up to us that the supermarket wasn’t scanning The Oban Times and, secondly, that the newspaper is available there in the first place.

Who knew?

Death becomes who?

Another email dropped in my inbox last week that took me by surprise.

This one was a press release titled in the subject line (I kid you not): ‘Good Death Week 2018.’

It began: ‘What is a good death? That is the question being asked of people in Scotland for Good Death Week, which takes place across the country between 14-20 May. It invites people to ask themselves what a good death means to them, through events, activities and online discussion.’

I mention this because it goes on to say: ‘In previous years, people have also created ‘Before I Die…’ walls – spaces on a blackboard or noticeboard where people can reveal their wishes of things they would like to do before they die.’

The example that tickled me most was the guy who had posted on a Before I Die wall what he most wanted to do before he popped his clogs: ‘Understand Bob Dylan’s songs.’

What do you think?

Write to me at or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4 HB.