This morning I listened to the Book of the Week, Margo Jefferson’s ” Negroland”. This book is written from two different view-points, the view of the child Margo as she lived it and the adult view of the woman who can put her understanding of a wider society and is able to step back from her own experiences and explain her parents behaviour to her younger self. This book is elegantly written and had a powerful impact on me. There are significant differences as well as considerable points of similarity in our stories.
Margo grew up in Chicago in the 1950s, I grew up in Sunderland also in the 1950s. Margo grew up in a middle class prosperous household, I grew up in a poor working class home. We both had parents who wanted the best for us. Margo is black and I am white. We had no television set as a child, we listened to the radio. I was an early member of the library and my greatest pleasure was reading books and listening to the radio. I lived in a modern house with a bathroom, it was equipped with hot water and electricity, I shared a bedroom with my younger sister. Every school day I caught a bus to take me into town, then in town I got on a second bus to take me to the school. I had a free pass so my journey didn’t cost me anything. I had a school dinner which was the part of the day I liked least. It was a state school so my parents had nothing to pay. I liked most of the lessons, two I didn’t like were mathematics and sewing
At the time I didn’t realise that in fact I was a very lucky girl, many girls in other parts of the world do not get the chance to go to school and some are married off while they are still children.