Thursday, 5 July 2007

Local Heroes


The Scottish press today is full of stories of heroism.

At the top of my list is Alan Johnston. Released after a four month ordeal following his capture in Gaza, he handled the media surrounding his release with grace and appreciation. He has a point. The support from the media in campaigning for his release was phenomenal. He was able to hear about their support on a radio he had from two weeks into his captivity, which he makes clear was a powerful 'psychological boost'. He could barely have shunned them in the hours following his release.

But just imagine spending four months in solitary confinement - the last three without exposure to daylight and then, quite suddenly, being thrown into a media circus. Most of us would have been stunned, meek, timid. Instead he was articulate and grateful, highlighting the plights of other hostages and apologising to his family for the stress he had caused.

He even had light moments, getting a quick haircut in an effort to lose what he referred to as 'that just-kidnapped look'. And promising to stay out of trouble. 'I couldn't bear to ask you all to do all that twice, just imagine the embarrassment.'
Being captured and incarcerated doesn't make a hero. But this is a man who lived in Gaza for three years before this incident, reporting for the BBC as sensitively and factually as any journalist I have seen. That's brave.

Now, he is handling his release with such dignity that I have confidence he will make some good come from what must have been a nightmarish ordeal. But it may be in the background. He is quoted as saying, 'You are about to see a rapid decline in my profile. I'm sure that if you hear from me again it will be in the most work-a-day, normal, BBC, journalistic context. The Johnston family is about to go back to the obscurity in which it was extremely happy for about 45 years. '

Mr Johnston, I do hope to hear your voice on the BBC World Service in Kenya.

And then there is a local hero of an altogether different mould. John Smeaton, the baggage handler who brought down the terrorist in Glasgow airport may claim to be no hero but 1000 pints at the Holiday Inn say otherwise. He says he was only doing what anyone else would have done in similar circumstances. Um, am I the only one who fears they may not have tackled a potential suicide bomber if given the opportunity.

You're one brave Weegie, Mr Smeaton.

10 comments:

Annie said...

Here is a sad fact. I watch the news here - admittedly I catch snippets of it here and there, but how awful is it that the ONLY place I saw information about this Gaza reporter was on other people's blogs? I did however get a lot more information than I needed or wanted about Paris Hilton's incarceration and release. That is truly disgusting and the US media should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

As for Mr Smeaton - good on him! And, I'm with you - not sure I'm the 'have a go hero' type. I can see my husband doing what he did though - maybe it's a 'guy thing'?

The Good Woman said...

Hi Annie
As a BBC correspondent, he got a lot of press here - not all do - but who can blame the BBC for supporting one of their own.
Alas, Paris got a lot of press here too!
Frankly, I'd hang the Good Man by his toes if he tried those sorts of heroics - I still need him!

Katie said...

Adrian said that while he'd like to think he would have tackled the terrorist, he probably would have just run away.

The Good Woman said...

With me close on his heels Katie. Honest man that!

lady macleod said...

Huzzah indeed. It is the everyday courage of people that is so inspiring, and there is much of it. It is wonderful to be reminded of those around us with the hearts of heroes. well done.

The Good Woman said...

Hi Lady M. Huzzah indeed. It was good to read the papers - for a change....

Motheratlarge said...

Like you I also thought Alan Johnston came across v. well on his release, modest and likeable. Fantastic to see him free again. If I was ever kidnapped by terrorists, I think I'd want it to be with someone like him. Though obviously the ideal would be not to be kidnapped at all...

Gwen said...

Alan Johnston's release made me feel just a tiny bit happier about the state of the world.

The Good Woman said...

Hi Mother at Large - defintiely to be avoided. I'd rather just aspire to sit next to him at a dinner party.

Yes, Gwen, put a smile on my face too. It gives me hope.

Snuffleupagus said...

Great post.