Remember the day Nelson Mandela visited the Isle of Man?
No you don’t, I suspect.
Nobody does that I know, and I certainly don’t.
But I have had a call from David Kneale, a 55-year-old plumber living at Rowany Villas, Port Erin, which suggests that he might have been here getting on for about 20 years ago, and it’s been kept a secret ever since.
Now that could well have been when Mr Mandela was President of South Africa. You can’t see him coming to the Isle of Man for a summer holiday. The weather was better in South Africa for one thing.
Also he would have been rather busy at the office.
In the circumstances what has David Kneale got to tell us? What makes him think Mr Mandela might have come over and, if he did, where did he stay?
It was Santon, apparently.
David told me he was a patient at Clatterbridge in early 2009 and there he was attended by a contract nurse who, when she learned he was from the Isle of Man, told him that Mr Mandela had been there to recuperate after hospital treatment and she was contracted to look after him.
‘She even told me,’ said David, ‘that he stayed with a friend of his at Santon. The friend, she said, was a man called Lord Brookes.
‘The nurse was middle-aged and she seemed to me and my wife to be perfectly genuine and sincere. She was English but I don’t remember her name.
‘Does this mean there was a news blackout on Mr Mandela’s visit? Or do you think I was under the influence of drugs and dreamt it all?
‘Sadly Lord Brookes is no longer with us and able to tell us. I did know him having done some work at his house.’
Right. What should we make of David’s story?
If there was a news blackout it must have been a wholly impenetrable one, especially when it involved somebody like Mr Mandela.
All I can say is that Lord Brookes, a British international industrialist, lived in the Isle of Man, at Santon, and he died in 2002. Lady Brookes died there in 2004.
He was the head of Guest Keen Nettlefold plc, a major automotive and aerospace components company based at Redditch in Worcestershire. Did he and Mr Mandela do a little business together at some time?
Nelson Mandela was a good man. If David’s story had been put to him I am sure he would have confirmed or denied it.
One of the Mandate programme presenters on Manx Radio, John Moss, remarked in jest, on air, that he was writing a book called ‘All Our Yessir Days’.
People have taken him at his word and are asking when it will be in the shops.
Mr Moss, speaking from a secret location last night, muttered: ‘It’s a work in progress.’
Two Manx crossword clues in from Redvers Skillicorn in Bristol. First, from his local paper, the Western Mail: Peculiar form of expression I’d take to the Isle of Man (5) – Idiom. Next. the Sun: Man, say, after a walkway (5) – Aisle.
This week’s letter to a local authority: ‘I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night’.