To celebrate Noddy’s 60th birthday, Enid Blyton’s granddaughter has added a new book to the series – the first in 46 years. But Sophie Smallwood has cut the black golliwogs out of the story, saying the characters would be too controversial – news report
I was slumped in the pub the other day when a peculiar-looking fellow came in and pulled up a stool next to me. He asked for a scotch on the rocks and sat there, quietly fraying at the edges. For the sake of good race relations, I introduced myself. He put out his hand. It was soft and furry.
“Golly,” he said. Odd thing to say.
He gave a hollow laugh and downed his scotch. “Golliwog,” he said, “although for obvious reasons I don’t use my full name any more.”
Then it dawned on me. “You’re Noddy’s friend, aren’t you?” He snorted. “Don’t talk to me about Noddy. Middle-class snob bastard.” I was shocked.
“But you two always seemed to have so much fun in Toyland!” Golly signaled the barman.
“Sure we did,” said Golly sourly. “But after I closed up the garage, Noddy went off to his posh house and I went back to my shack in Golly Town. The brothers weren’t allowed to live in Toytown. That was for the special ones.”
“You mean ..?”
“Yeah,” said Golly, sniffing his drink suspiciously. “For the whiteys. For imbeciles like Big Ears and the local filth, Mr Plod. He arrested my cousin once. Accused him of stealing Noddy’s stupid taxi. Just imagine.”
Golly slammed his furry fist onto the bar counter. “Noddy wasn’t so perfect, you know.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“Where do you think he got his name from?”
“From nodding his head to make his little bell ring?”
“Yeah, right. He kept nodding off on account of his heroin habit. The goblins were his suppliers. Not many people know that.”
Golly told me Tessie Bear was a transvestite. We didn’t speak for a while after that. Eventually I plucked up the courage. “Noddy and Big Ears. Is it true they were ..?” He barked harshly.
“They had sleepovers, for Christ’s sake. Noddy lived in a house-for-one. There was no spare room. Use your imagination.”
I ordered a couple of tequilas and changed the subject. “So what do you think of the new Noddy book?”
“Bound to be a bestseller,” he said bitterly, “now that us golliwogs are out of the picture.” It did seem a bit unfair. “Is it because I’m black?” asked Golly angrily.
He downed his tequila and asked for a Jägermeister. “I turned 60 today,” he said.
“To your health,” I said, raising my glass. Golly coughed up a little blood and lit a cigarette. “Doc says my liver’s ruined. Says I’ve got two, maybe three years left.”
I didn’t know what to say. It all seemed so terribly sad. A police siren wailed in the distance. The barman called for last orders. I slipped a twenty into Golly’s tattered pocket and said goodbye.
“See you around,” said Golly, not bothering to look up.
I stopped at the door. “By the way,” I said. “Whatever happened to Bumpy Dog?”
Golly smiled for the first time. “Noddy reversed over him back in ‘62.”