The legacy of Lockerbie

Struggling with the aftermath of Pan Am Flight 103

The Bafta-winning director of After Lockerbie, George Rosie, recalls his experiences with the families of the victims in Granta, poignantly describing the varying ways they dealt with their grief.

From Georgia Nucci, who, upon losing her teenage son, flew down to Bogotá to adopt four children, to Suse Lowenstein, who created "life-size sculptures of naked, grief-stricken women, modelled by the wives, mothers, sisters and sweethearts of the people who died", every family endured its tragedies differently.

A few sought solace in cold, hard science; Bob and Eileen Monetti watched an officially filmed re-creation of the bombing, seeking reassurance that their son didn't suffer when the fuselage exploded. "It would have been all over in a second. Rick and the rest of the folks on that plane would never have known what happened. That's what we tell ourselves anyway," said Bob Monetti bleakly at the time.

Rosie gently yet convincingly writes: "I've no doubt Kenny MacAskill -- who I happen to know slightly -- was genuinely touched by [Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi's] wretched and terminal condition. But if he'd learned more about the measures some families took to cope with their losses perhaps his 'compassion' for Megrahi might have ebbed."

Following his release, controversy has raged over Megrahi's culpability, but, whether he is innocent or not, the tales of grief related here are both brutal and unforgettable.

For more, take a look at Peter Wilby's First Thoughts column and James Macintyre's piece on "The folly of devolution" .

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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink