View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 14 August 2009

Late on a Friday

Twenty to eleven, and it hasn't been dry all day. Ferry is doing three crossings today, and it left port at 8.15pm, some 75 minutes late. It is by all accounts booked up to the gunnels. Spent the last wee while totting up the number of portraits I can add to the Roll of Honour files - 700. Need to process 220 pictures to get up to that total though, so that'll keep me busy over the weekend.

I am frankly stunned at the way the NHS is vilified in the United States, as a way of opposing the changes that President Obama is seeking to implement. Although far from perfect, the NHS has served the United Kingdom very well for more than 60 years, and there have been some gross inaccurancies being bandied about by those in the USA who don't like Obama's reforms. If it is true that 50 million Americans do not have access to health care insurance, and therefore no proper healthcare, then that is a disgrace. The NHS is a model that could be emulated by many other nations. I agree that it has a propensity towards costliness, but on the whole, it is geared towards those without the means of paying for their own private healthcare.

Friday 14 August

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.