This is of course a further day when I should have been in Blantyre with the FL in the company of our Law Society of Scotland colleagues. However, from Cape Town we were at last able to skype, and I had a brisk yet useful chat with Lorna and Katie and, even more importantly, Paula Caetano, the chief executive of the Malawi Law Society.
In my absence I seem to have been volunteered for a number of jobs upcoming, the first of which is to write an article for the MLS’s magazine in time for their May issue, and then, come September, to go over and present some CPD training and assist with governance processes – and whatever else we can squeeze into a few days there. The MLS have a staff of four, and a membership of 300, of the 800 or so lawyers in Malawi serving a population of 15.5m in a country the size of England. We talk routinely about issues of access to justice in Scotland – the Malawians understand the phrase in a number of much more extreme, challenging and dramatic ways.
Back over here in Cape Town, the rest of our day was spent necessarily finding things to do until we hit the ground running on Sunday. Jamie Millar and wife have arrived, so we teamed up with them, and once again the LSEW folk for dinner, and whilst it was informal, there is always a great deal of shop to be talked and information to be gleaned in such encounters. That’s why, twice a year, the office bearers and chief executives of the Law Societies of the four home jurisdictions – Scotland, England/Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland meet for an evening and morning, and exchange information and news in the interests of our own members.
That said, the most intriguing bit of the discussion was the revelation that the English are going shark cage diving today. Getting up at 4am, they are heading with the Hudson family to a diving centre four hours from Cape Town to get in a cage and get lowered into the water while dead-eyed mindless killing machines swim around them lusting for human flesh. Though why the sharks need the protection of a cage from members of the Law Society of England & Wales I am not sure. But in reality, Finding Nemo it ain’t. I hope we see them back, with all body parts intact.
Near to the hotel is the Victoria and Alfred (not Albert; yes, we wondered too) harbourfront centre, with shops, restaurants and all sorts of local sights and facilities. Excellently appointed and run, it is a first class place either for a coffee or a major shopping trip. Whether you want a helicopter ride, to listen to a series of high quality bands playing music – jazz, African, what I can only describe as glockenspiel a-gogo and more, for free – a boat trip to see seals or any one of a hundred different activities, the V & A has it all.
Speaking of shopping, the FL had to buy shoes from, would you believe it, Woolworths, which is still going well down here. Not expensive (BA won't have much to stiff out for a pair of replacement heels needed in the absence of the world-travelling red bag), but the setup is more like Next than the old pick-n-mix type of offering in the UK.
When exploring this 21st century altar of consumerism and sophistication, in the heart of it is a small grey building hard on a corner of one of the harbour basins, and sitting in the water next to it is a launch with the name DIAS on the prow. This was the boat that took the political prisoners to Robben Island jail, and the building was its holding cell. It is like coming across Ann Frank’s house in the leafy suburbs of Amsterdam: such an emblem of evil in commonplace surroundings. We are taking the Robben Island tour on some downtime later in the coming week, and those that have already been say it is a moving and poignant experience.
And finally, as we used to say in the TV studios, I can end on good news. The bag TURNED UP today at the hotel, having been found in some part of the British Airways empire and redeployed to Johannesburg then on to Cape Town.