Little Black Sambo

Steady, heavy, rain, with ever increasing momentum, teemed from a dirty white sky throughout the day.

We deemed this excellent for the garden but not conducive to gardening, so we drove out to Ace Reclamation at West Parley, where we bought a wrought iron arch and two stately armchairs which will be delivered next week. Close to this architectural salvage outlet lies that village’s garden centre where we bought five new climbing roses which have stayed in the car.

I spent the afternoon locating and scanning more of the prints Elizabeth has returned to me. This task is becoming more difficult as I don’t have the negatives and have to plough through photograph albums looking for gaps. I managed to place four from May 1986 and one from 1987.

Derrick 5.86

I am not sure who took this one of me at Jessica’s Aunt Elspeth’s 70th Birthday Party in May, at her home in Rugby. On my left wrist is a stopwatch, the purpose of which will become apparent in the final picture today.

In ‘Does This Remind You Of Anyone?’ , I have described, and featured other photographs from, a trip to a recreation ground in Tooting that same month.

Sam 5.86 2

Here, Sam looks a little unsure about whether he will make it across the climbing frame. He may remember better, but I seem to remember rescuing him.

Jessica, Louisa, Sam 5.86

Louisa points something out to Jessica, whilst holding onto her mandatory ice cream.

Mum, Louisa, Sam 5.86

It was probably on the evening of Louisa’s fourth birthday party, on 24th May, that Sam reads to my Mum, his Grandma, whilst Louisa is engrossed in ‘Little Black Sambo’.

Louisa is reading one of her mother’s favourite childhood stories, which Jessica read with altered names. This children’s book, first published by Grant Richards in 1899, was written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman. Criticism of the work began as early as 1932. The word ‘Sambo’ came to be deemed a racial slur, and Bannerman’s illustrations derogatory caricatures. As a result, both text and illustrations have undergone considerable revision.

I only read the book once, so I have resorted to Wikipedia for the plot.  “Sambo”, we are told, “is a South Indian boy who lives with his father and mother, named Black Jumbo and Black Mumbo, respectively. Sambo encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter. Sambo then recovers his clothes and his mother, Black Mumbo, makes pancakes out of the butter………..

In 1996, noted illustrator Fred Marcellino observed that the story itself contained no racist overtones and produced a re-illustrated version, The Story of Little Babaji, which changes the characters’ names but otherwise leaves the text unmodified. This version was a best-seller.”

Derrick 26.1.87

The final print in today’s batch was made by Mike Nicholson on 26th January 1987. I may look hot and bothered, but the the Fareham 10 mile road race I ran in aid of my nephew, Adam’s day nursery, was competed in sub-zero temperatures, which is probably why, according to my watch, I managed it in 64 minutes.

Chinese meal

This evening we dined on Jackie’s chicken in black bean sauce, stir-fried vegetable noodles, and rice noodles. We both drank Tsingtao beer. Hordle Chinese Take Away has to look to its laurels.