Monday, 14 May 2007

Oban Times

The Oban of my youth seemed uncomplicated. It was plastic boats from Woolworths. Lovat lambswool jumpers from Chalmers. 'Born Free' in the Phoenix on George Street. Tea in The Station Hotel, watching MacBrayne's King George V steaming away from the North Pier (about to disappoint another batch of tourists by not delivering the scheduled - but always weather contingent - landing on Staffa).

Then I read Morvern Callar, and found it hard to shake off its gothic miasma. Corpses in attics and buried body parts had no place in my Oban.

I thought I was getting there until Mike told me about his only visit to the town. Taking advantage of a cheap excursion offer, he and a mate travelled up to Oban by train. They had half an hour or so before the return train left, and the tide was out, so they took a stroll on the beach. The view across the bay to Kererra was beautiful, the gulls wheeled and cried overhead, the scent of the sea mingled with pine and heather, and Mike found a wellington boot with part of a leg in it.

This was in the early 80's, and Mike had a red mohican. He says that attracting attention was easy, but persuading anyone to believe him was not.

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