Welcome to December's

Monday 2nd December, aka Cyber Monday, was billed as the biggest online shopping day in history but any customer of the sinful NatWest or Royal Bank of Scotland, imbued with the Christmas spirit was soon subjected to a rude awakening.

For three hours credit cards issued by the two banks steadfastly refused to work leaving customers unable to pay for presents, fuel and meals. That in itself was bad enough, but the subsequent discovery that the banks had for years been making inadequate investment into the computer systems needed to support the cards while maintaining big bonuses to key staff was a massive slap in the face.

Despite the draconian penalties that the banks mercilessly impose on customers who exceed their overdrafts they seem strangely reluctant to offer blanket compensation for withholding money to which their customers had every right. The spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge is clearly alive and well (and looking forward to a nice big Christmas bonus!)

Perhaps, therefore, the New Year may be the right time to review your bank account. Are you getting the right service and the right rate for you? Check out http://moneyfacts.co.uk/bank-accounts/best-bank-accounts/ to compare alternative accounts.

There's no question who this month's saint is and how sad it is to be writing about the passing of Nelson Mandela. As a student I was involved in a lot of protests against the apartheid regime in South Africa and its incarceration of Mandela and he has always been a hero to me.

There are so few true icons in the world today but Mandela was one. To have been treated so appallingly by the South African authorities and yet act with such dignity and forgiveness on his release was incredible. Without his ability to reconcile apparently irreconcilable factions South Africa would not have become the vibrant, multicultural nation it is today.

I've been fortunate to make a number of trips there and have seen that the love and respect for Mandela was universal and his legacy has been peace and reconstruction. You only have to look across the border into Zimbabwe to see what could have happened had he been a vengeful tyrant like Mugabe.

A truly great man and a great loss to the world.

Robin Sainty APFS M.A. (Cantab)