612.67 15th December 2013

All through the weekend I had been concerned about a tub of milk. The milk was far enough gone to taste slightly unpleasant, but not quite bad enough to throw away. Finally this morning I took the decision, poured the small remaining amount of milk down the sink, rinsed the tub, and unceremoniously dumped it in the recycling bin.

At almost exactly the same moment, in an impoverished village in South Africa, after ten days of national commemoration, the coffin of Nelson Mandela was lowered into the earth. He too had been kept going long past his sell-by date. He had been out of public life for ten years, he had been ill for most of a year, and he had been kept alive while the nation prepared for his send-off.

Then, on the stroke of 11.00 a.m., the BBC TV news channel turned to domestic politics, curiously the topic of hospital deaths at the weekend. I’m sure Mr. Mandela would have approved.

Of course we are all eventually destined for the recycling bin; but we hope not to go too rancid before we get there.

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