At Random with Martin Laing – week 22

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Welcome back

Popped into Aulay’s pub on Sunday for the first time since restrictions were eased.

What a joy to be able to carouse again pleasantly with old chums over a beer or three – cheers, Aulay, for the pint.

Those who know me and, I suspect, others who read these ramblings from time to time – will no doubt be aware that Aulay’s is one of my favourite hostelries and is a place in which to find many former and occasionally present Oban Times hacks and ex-print workers – aye Sach, that’s you.

But among the cheer evident on Sunday was a sombre note. The wide-ranging conversation turned, inevitably, to the pandemic and its brutal impact on so many families. And that, in turn, led to chat about how so many of Aulay’s regulars – most of them kenspeckle Oban characters – had passed on during the lockdown.

A number of names – I won’t go into them here – were reported to have died in recent months, many of them known to me personally, but I had been unaware of their demise. My heartfelt condolences go to their families.

Life goes on, however, and we are hopefully seeing positive changes that will benefit us all and help local businesses bounce back.

On which note, spare a thought for John and Helen at the Whisky Vaults hotel, who have been desperate to open again but whose efforts have been frustrated by the construction demands of an adjacent business. They are, thankfully, back open now, at least partially, I am happy to report, and looking after residents.

I can’t wait for everything to improve.

Get well soon

One of my Oban mates is the wee ‘Weegie’ known to some as the former Thornliebank midfield maestro. Or Jim McLeish, to give him his proper name.

His lovely wife Sally has been supporting Jim through a period of ill-health recently, which culminated in surgery in Glasgow last week.

I believe Jim is now back with his family and I look forward (ish!) to seeing his face soon.

What do you think? Send your comments to editor@obantimes.co.uk