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Bageye at the Wheel

Bageye at the Wheel

Author(s): Colin Grant

Location(s): Luton

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1970s



Back in the early 1970s, Luton’s population is mainly white and working-class, with a handful of Afro-Caribbean families. Among them are the Grants and, in the person of the eponymous Bageye, they have a formidable paterfamilias. Bageye takes his meals alone in Victorian fashion, eating before his wife and five pickney. The pickney try to make themselves invisible, because they go in perpetual fear of their father.

He works in the town’s Vauxhall factory but aspires for more. The difficulty is that, however disciplinarian at home, he’s incorrigibly feckless outside. His wife Blossom is reduced to hiding 50 pences for the electricity meter under the stair carpet to stop her husband gambling them away. Bageye lurches from scam to scam. Betting on the horses, dope-dealing – whatever it is, it goes wrong.

A fine example of his ongoing struggle between the grind of duty and illicit temptation comes during an outing to purchase tiles for the living-room ceiling. He attempts manfully to resist the lure of the bookmakers en route, but it’s a dead cert he’ll fail. Peter Carty, Independent

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Book Reviews

Lead Review

i felt I got to know the man and the time he lived in, through his eyes, Luton in the 1970s. A really good read – Lawrence Walsh –

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