Yesterday, Pater Peat Worrier alerted me to this salutary case in point. On August 24th 2009, an incident occurred involving one William Preston of Hotel Ceilidh-Donia and a 25-year old American tourist, Samuel Hogue, who was staying at the establishment. The pair seem to have been having a chat in a friendly way in the Hotel bar late that evening, I dare say over a dram or two too many. Their talk turned to current affairs, which at that time was dominated by coverage of the release of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, MacAskill's decision being announced just a few days before on the 20th of August 2009. This seems to have been a point of significant disagreement between Hogue and Preston. Quoth the Scotsman's coverage, demure starring of sweary words replaced:
Mr Hogue said al-Megrahi should never have been released but Mr Preston said he spoke of an incident where an American warship had shot down an Iranian passenger jet and that nothing happened to the captain. The hotelier said Mr Hogue had then inferred the Scots were "yellow bellied bastards" He said he told Mr Hogue: "No more fucking drink for you. Give me your fucking glass."
Here matters seem to have got confused. Glass flew. Injuries were sustained on both sides. Mr Hogue alleged that Mr Preston had deliberately clattered him over the head with the object. Preston denied this, claiming an accidental collision between his glass and Hogue's. The assault charge was tried over three days in Edinburgh's Sheriff Court. After deliberating, on Wednesday the jury found Mr Preston not guilty of assault. However, the Hotelier did plead guilty to a subsequent breach of the peace in Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary, after the incident. The Sheriff, Mhairi Stephen, told Preston:
"The jury acquits you of the serious charge of assault but the evidence supports your guilty plea to the charge of breach of the peace which is a serious charge given the nature of your disorderly conduct. The elephant in the corner is not Mr al-Megrahi but alcohol as is so often in these courts."
Well, only up to a point, My Lady. While being liquored-up undoubtedly played a powerful part in the events described, don't let's overlook the strange and interesting way our lives become impregnated with the affairs of the world, people and places beyond our ken in space and time flood into our lives, and carry us on their eddies and currents.