Sopping wet in Stornoway today, a layer of nimbostratus overhead doing what it is good at: rain down on us below. The cruiseliner Mona Lisa is hiding behind Arnish point, across the bay, only showing its superstructure over the low hills there. Why she is sheltering there puzzles me: the wind is a light easterly - and the Mona Lisa is in the lee of land there. The harbour is bristling with vessels at the moment: the ferry is in for its second of three calls today, the French fishing vessel Jean Claude Coulon has just left after effecting a crew change and the Ronja Skye is on the Goat Island slipway getting a clean out.
The Libyan man, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, convicted of bombing flight PanAm 103 over Lockerbie on 21 December 1988, is to be released from Greenock prison in the next few days or weeks. He is terminally ill with cancer, and the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, has decided to free him on compassionate grounds. The families of the victims are opposed to his release, and the US government has similarly voiced its opposition. Although I would agree with those views, I have had this nagging feeling that al-Megrahi was put forward as a scapegoat. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the sequence of events in the late 80s: Gadaffi orders bombing of Berlin nightclub frequented by US servicemen, president Reagan orders bombing of Tripoli (killing one of Gadaffi's relatives), and Gadaffi engineers Lockerbie bombing.