Great excitement yesterday: I walked into the library and there, on the stand facing me, was Ian Rankin’s latest book. Could I borrow it? Please? I could – and two minutes later I walked out with the shiny hardback in my hot and sticky handbag. LOL. It’s a Rebus book, too, featuring a newly-reinstated JR who has rejoined the force at a lower grade and is now looking into a possible miscarriage of justice which happened thirty years before. It concerns a Masonic-type group of policemen who called themselves the Saints of the Shadow-Bible, and that is the title of the book. I haven’t got very far with it yet, but will post a full review when I do.
In other news, the tap has been fixed (deep joy) and we are going to look at a couple of houses: one today in Aylestone and one next week in Clarendon Park. But I can’t leave you without saying a word about Nelson Mandela.
I want to start with a confession – or an almost-confession: years ago when I was about nineteen I almost – I stress ‘almost’ – opened a bank account with Barclays. This was very significant because unlike some other banks, Barclays were big investors in apartheid South Africa and hence were boycotted by many people. The reason I almost opened an account was not that I supported apartheid. Of course I didn’t. It wasn’t that I was indifferent either – of course I wasn’t: I found apartheid as repugnant as most people did. The reason I almost did this was that I didn’t think my actions were significant. I didn’t think it mattered what I did with my tiny amount of money; at bottom, I didn’t think I mattered. I thought my money was just a drop in the ocean; I thought I was just a drop in the ocean, and it didn’t occur to me to think that the ocean is made up of just that – tiny drops. We are all a drop in the ocean, but the ocean is nothing more than each one of us put together: and so we all matter, every one of us. And what we do matters.
I am happy to say that I have acted on this principle ever since; I did not open an account with Barclays and I generally try to consider the ethical implications of everything I buy and every organisation I support. And I’m glad – because it just as much as the struggles of the ANC, it was international pressure which brought apartheid to its knees. Mandela was a truly remarkable man and his actions after release in setting up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and so avoiding what looked like an inevitable bloodbath, show that he was a great soul. Though he didn’t have Gandhi’s commitment to non-violence, he was in the end a Mahatma in the great tradition of Gandhi.