The year is 1989, also 20 August. One hundred and thirty people are on aboard a pleasure craft on the River Thames in London having a party when the vessel was rammed by the dredger Bow Belle. Fifty-one of those on board the pleasure craft drowned in what was to become known as the Marchioness disaster, named after the craft. Read the article on the BBC website and remember the victims of this tragedy today, twenty years on.
The focus today is heavily on the release of the Lockerbie bomber, and I have just turned off coverage on BBC TV and Twitter, some 15 minutes after his plane took off into the cloudy skies above Glasgow. In 4 hours' time, he will touch down in Tripoli, Libya, to a hero's welcome. And apart from the man with the long name, a certain colonel will also be a hero. He has come back out of the cold, feted by the great and 'good' of the world now that he has become the best boy of the class.
The overwhelming sentiments of reactions on Twitter were negative, along the lines of "where was the compassion for his victims?" The repercussions will be heavily political, both inside and outside the United Kingdom. American reactions have been particularly vociferous - understandable, with some 35 students from a college in Syracuse among the dead of Lockerbie. As were 11 townspeople in Lockerbie itself. It still remains an eerie memory to see the wreckage of an aircraft strewn along the M74 motorway, which I know quite well, with the familiar roadsigns - and a big hole in the ground beside ravaged houses.
Image courtesy BBC
In death, all are equal, as I said before on a different subject. Megrahi, like any convicted criminal, deserves compassion and mercy when it becomes clear he has not long to live with a terminal illness. I support the Scottish Justice Secretary's stance on that, and on balance (60/40), that is my line. Also because I believe that Megrahi's was merely a scapegoat, to stand trial in lieu of dozens of other people who were in the know and who will never have to face justice over the 270 dead of Lockerbie.