View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Watching the grass grow

That is the impression I had upon switching on BBC News just before 8pm tonight. It showed a plane on the tarmac at Stansted Airport near London, and the caption said that Barack Obama had arrived in the United Kingdom. So, we are supposed to sit pretty and get bored out of our minds watching a plane sit in gathering darkness, waiting for the president of the United States to walk down the steps? Where is the real news? Worse is to come.

Over the next couple of days, twenty leaders and heads of government of various countries across the globe will be attending a meeting to natter about the gathering economic crisis, row about ways to combat it and stuff their faces with grub and booze. Yes, I'm being thoroughly disrespectful, but I am getting bored out of my box with all this talk, talk, talk, whilst nothing changes. Government ministers claiming expenses for their hubbies watching dirty movies at home while they are away, bank directors feathering their nests with the full knowledge if not connivance of the government. And it just goes on. Does anyone care that economic growth is now expressed in negative figures? No.

People are interested in the consequences for their jobs, their personal finances. Are they going to be laid off, will their home be repossessed, their cars or other items. Will they be able to let their kids go to university. Will they have a pension to look forward to after they retire - or will it all be gobbled up by greedy bankers, who cannot let go of a lifestyle of gluttony. They will not and cannot. One so-called fat cat committed suicide last year over that prospect. Says enough.

Meanwhile, it was a matter of global interest that Barack Obama hopped down those steps onto British soil this evening. Some would say it was of global importance. Perhaps it is. The practical results, down on the farm or at the coalface, is all that matters in the short or long run. If the course of this recession, now projected to possibly last 5 years, is not altered, then it will all have been a colossal waste of time and money.

Evening notes

Quite a mild afternoon, and the 14 degrees C at 2pm was most certainly not forecast. As per usual. I am now looking out across the basin towards a placid cloud scene. Although the sun is not out, it is looking very springlike. The hooded crows are smashing shells by dropping them from a great height. Yet another Norwegian trawler called into port this afternoon - the Ronge. Within the space of a week, we have seen more than half a dozen fishing vessels from Norway in this port, one as a result of an emergency when its nets fouled the propellor.

In August 2007, I mentioned on the old Northern Trip blog the plight of people trying to cross from Africa to Europe by boat. Until a few years ago, the main route was from northwest Africa to the Canary Islands (Spanish territory), but a surge of refugees is also using a route between Libya and Italy. Today, it is reported that more than 200 people drowned in a boat when this was affected by severe weather.

I remember that in the late 1970s, many people fled Vietnam as 'boat people', and I have met Vietnamese people in Western Europe in the early 1980s who had come that way. The Africans I mentioned above are coming from south of the Sahara, fleeing grinding desperate poverty, trying to get a better life. An even more atrocious story keeps emanating out of Yemen, when refugees of the lawless nation of Somalia are put across the Gulf of Aden, and more often than not abandoned on the high seas.

Tuesday 31 March

It is brightening up here in Stornoway after a wet morning. I've been cleaning out the archives, copying stuff into address books and what not, disposing of anything not needed. Made a huge difference. And having a fireplace is most handy for getting rid of confidential material.

The row about the bus service in Lewis is continuing, but I have to say in all fairness that saying that timetables change 3 times in as many days just because there is a (different) Saturday service is taking it too far. Having said that, there is only a reduction in service, no correct timetables (at bus station, in the stances, with the drivers or on the council's website).

I just wished they would leave Jade Goody to rest in peace. I've had it with all the revelations about her final moments, who will and won't attend the funeral and all that. It's making me feel quite ill.