It's ten years since Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed. I have a vivid memory of it; a vigil was held in Cambridge outside King's College and around the same time the anti-Shell campaign started. I remember Paddy, our unofficial leader, asking me in King's bar if I'd do him a favour and speak to the pirate radio station instead of him. I'd already had three pints of Guinness so it didn't go too well, but at least we got the "boycott Shell" message out. I also remember battering an oil carton with a stick for hours on end outside a Shell garage, chanting with a bunch of pals until we got the place shut down for the night. We gave the lady at the desk a friendly round of applause as she left and she cast us a big smile. I think she was glad of the night off. I also remember the local bobbies being very friendly and offering them biscuits, which they declined as they were "on duty". It really is a genteel place, Cambridge.
When I visited my Mum in Scotland a few weeks later, and she was running out of petrol, she stopped at a Shell garage to fill up. She looked at me apologetically, but I said - sincerely - that I wasn't going to be annoyed; it was her car, and she was nearly out of fuel. But thirty seconds later she was back, saying she couldn't do it: she had spent some time in Nigeria as a young woman, and had struggled with much of the corruption and inhumanity she saw there. The car sputtered on until we reached an independent petrol station, possibly the last in Ayrshire.