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” .