At Random with Martin Laing – Thursday October 1

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A step too far

I love Oban and the surrounding area, including the isles. It is a brilliant place to live and work, or to visit.

However, I found myself dismayed to read about the impending attempt to bid for city status next year to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee.

Why am I dismayed? Simply because I don’t see the point. Oban is a fabulous seaside town; the economic hub of this part of Argyll; the seafood capital of Scotland; gateway to the isles; a magnet for tourists from across the world; even a university town now and far more besides.

Yet there is no escaping the fact it is a smallish town in the west Highlands. What part of achieving city status would change any of that? I suspect it may even make people snigger derogatively.

I have strong connections with Stirling, which was awarded city status years ago. There was, for me at least, much more renown to be gained from being the Royal Burgh that it was previously.

I think the change to become a city cost Stirling’s ratepayers dearly as almost every road sign in the town – and I use that word deliberately – was changed to say City of Stirling under the street name. Otherwise, I have seen little evidence of any benefit. And locals in Stirling still talk about going into town; no-one who lives there refers to it as a city.

Oban will be better off staying as it is.

Great sports

I am delighted to see so much sport being reported each week once again, after the hiatus we have had forced upon us by you know what.

Oban Saints returned to winning ways the week before last and Oban Lorne RFC have been back in action with players at all age levels competing again. The shinty scene is in full flow once more and many other sports are happening again.

It fair cheers me up to see all this activity.

What do you think? Send your comments to