I've been stuck at home all week with a bug - its not been much fun. But there are many much much worse places to be sick, and the previous week I visited one.
It was a replica of the ship Zong that was moored in the pool of London for two weeks and I went along to have a look round. The story is pretty shocking - not just was it a slaver, but the centre of an insurance scam that resulting in slaves being thown overboard mid Atlantic when they got sick.
While it was pretty interesting there were two things that bothered me a bit.
Firstly it wasn't a true replica of the ship Zong - which was longer and had different layout below deck. It was just the ship used in the recent film "Amazing Grace" about the life of William Wilberforce.
Secondly the attitude of the tour guide and at least one of the others on the tour I found disquieting. Both mentioned skin colour as if that would or should be crucial in determining attitudes to the boat. "Why are you here, as a white person?" was a flavour of the questions.
I found this boggling to be honest. Slavery is a horror of humanities past, irrespective of what race you are. I don't feel I should feel guilty for what was done centuries ago by someone else for the irrelevance that we share a skin colour.
Its not just that some white people opposed slavery, and that some black people were part of slave trading. We are all mongrels and it doesn't feel right to define our identity or be defined from just one historical group.
So to a degree I switched off and started asking about the rigging, going to the rail and asking what each of the ropes were. Recently I've have been reading "Two years before the mast" which at times is quite technical in its description of the rigging of a tall ship, so a hands on Q&A session seemed just what the doctored ordered.
I found a trainee who was initially nervous but then by the end had her confidence boosted as she found she did know all the ropes, their names, and their uses.
On the tube home there was the usual cross section of races, religions, and nationalities. As a little girl staggered her way across the isle I exchanged smiles with the proud grandfather sitting opposite.
No doubt we could have exchanged national histories, found differences and reasons for grievances. Would that really have helped?
8 hours ago