Everyone has been talking about poor Mandela today who died last night at the age of 95.
What an amazing age for a truly amazing man. A man who changed the way we view black people forever.
A man who endured a torturous 26 years behind bars for his beliefs and his unstoppable fight for equality.
In a past life 19 years ago, I worked for a family whose grandfather was at the time Lord Mayor of London. I was a nanny to two lovely little boys at the time. As a result of the children's grandfather being Lord Mayor, the family had to attend many formal events in London at the Mansion house.
Until that point, I had only briefly associated Mansion House with a stop on the tube. The Mansion House is in fact the house where the Lord Mayor resides during his time in duty which is incidentally a whole year.
When I took the job, I was informed of the likelihood that the grandfather would be taking this role but had no idea what it entailed. Well, what a fabulous year lay ahead......
The year began with the Lord Mayor's show. That in itself was a fabulous day. I cannot until that point ever recalling having paid the slightest bit of interest in the event, I didn't even know it existed.
As nanny to the grandchildren, it was within my duty to accompany the family to such events.
I had to stay at the Mansion House (what a drudge!!), had my own room with huge drapes at the windows and a huge luxury bathroom, I even had staff looking after me and the children. Initially, I made full use of the service they provided....'room service....' but it didn't take long for me to step back and return to the ground. Fun for a while but really not me.
Anyway, the show was fabulous and myself and the children got treated like royalty. I recall taking the children to the zoo for the morning to keep them occupied and then having to get back to the Mansion House when the crowds had started forming. Everywhere was fenced off so I had to call on the service of a friendly policeman to escort me through the fencing and across the road which was inaccessible to everyone else, we felt very important!
I even got to stand on the balcony with the likes of the PM and Duchess of Gloucester (not that I knew who she was back then either).
Anyway, one totally amazing and unforgettable thing that did come out of that year was this.....
One evening, whilst a state function was taking place within one of the very grand ballrooms, I was wandering around with the children when I heard through the grapevine that Nelson Mandela was in attendance and was staying at the house. Well, you can imagine the excitement to know that someone of his importance was within the same building, I just had to get a glance....just a glance. So, I crept up onto a balcony that surrounded the ballroom off which Mr Mandela's room was located and sat and waited. Sitting quietly with two children aged 2 and 4 at the time, was no easy feat. There he was, Mr Mandela with his wife walked across the ballroom. He must have heard us because he looked up and when he saw us he beckoned us down. We were so very lucky that evening, we actually got to go into his suit and meet him. We shook his hand and spoke to him for a while.
What a lovely man and what a privilege to have had the opportunity to have met him.
Nelson Mandela is now free.....God bless him.