At Random, with Martin Laing – 14.4.22

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A friend indeed

Friendship. Hmm. It can be a curious thing, very nuanced and takes many forms.

My random thoughts turned to this subject last week after meeting an old chum for a beer or three. Stuart McKinlay is a former colleague of mine from The Herald newspaper who still lives in Glasgow – the West End, to be precise.

Splendid fellow that he is, Stuart was kind enough to compliment me for this column, which he reads almost every week by purchasing a printed copy of The Oban Times.

Now, Stuart has no connections to Oban at all other than me and very occasional visits to the town with his charming partner Anne, yet he continues to buy the newspaper. In part, I know, it is in a journalist’s nature to want to read papers, but his confessed admission is that he looks forward to reading this weekly ramble of mine. Quite so.
Ergo, back to the curious nature of friendship, and Stuart’s enduring and endearing loyalty. It is nothing less than reaffirming to know a good friend holds oneself in some esteem, a sentiment I reciprocate in this long-standing relationship.

Incidentally, I suspect that Stuart will not be exactly chuffed with me this week for highlighting this, but he deserves a nod and I will now shamelessly plug a book he has written with his brothers Neil and Fearghas – the former a church minister in Australia and the latter a Gaelic poet and scholar in Inverness.

Between them, the three have produced The Time Horse (Life, Laughs, Lows & Literature), a fascinating ‘pony trek across time in their lives’, which began in poverty on Canada.

The brothers have such interesting tales to tell, from a childhood in a ‘shack which perched on short struts to raise it from the uneven ground’, through the decades until modern times in Scotland and the antipodes.

Stuart was, unsurprisingly, kind enough to gift me a copy and I can happily recommend it to all you dear readers. It is published by Festuneil Publishing.

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