A 1970s Childhood in Suburbia
A brilliant memoir about growing up in one of the very few black families in Luton in the 1970s and a superb portrait of the author's father: the feckless, tyrannical Bageye.
To his fellow West Indians who assemble every weekend for the all-night poker game at Mrs Knight's, he is always known as Bageye. There aren't very many black men in Luton in 1972 and most of them gather at Mrs Knight's - Summer Wear, Pioneer, Anxious, Tidy Boots - each has his nickname. Bageye already finds it a struggle to feed his family on his wage from Vauxhall Motors, but now his wife Blossom has set her heart on her sons going to private school.
In this wonderful memoir Colin Grant looks at his father through the eyes of his ten-year-old self. Colin is Bageye's favourite 'pickney', and often his reluctant companion in his latest attempt to placate Blossom with another DIY project, or a little cash. When he acquires a less than roadworthy old car, Bageye sets himself up as an unofficial minicab service, lack of a driving licence notwithstanding. More profitable are his marijuana deals, until the day he mistakenly entrusts Colin with choosing a hiding place for a huge bag of ganja...
“I loved every word”
“[A] vivid and bittersweet window into a vanished world of 1970s suburbia”
“A quietly unforgettable book”
“A fabulous example of storytelling”
“Colin Grant’s memoir focuses on his feckless father…but tells the wider story of growing up black in Luton in 1970s suburbia”
Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue in the North
Benjamin Evans, Sunday Telegraph