The Golly in the Cupboard

Phil Frampton, Tamic Publications

ISBN 0954764900, £7.99


Phil Frampton has a story to tell. Abandoned as a child and brought
up in Barnardo’s homes mainly because his mother was white and his
father wasn’t, he later fought to gain access to a file that had
for 40 years existed without his knowledge, writes Graham

He discovered a past skulking with deception, racism, rejection and
abuse. It’s a story to tell, all right. But I just wish he had told
it more directly and with more economy. I just wish he had an

The book is at its most powerful when Frampton dispenses with his
philosophical musings and pseudo-fictional approach and simply lets
the past speak for itself. For example, in his records under the
section entitled “Any other physical defects or maladies” was one
hyphenated word: “half-caste”. He was thought to have little chance
of adoption because “he was such a poor specimen of humanity” and
“half-negro which may be a handicap”.

There are some funny moments for “Dr Banana’s kids” and Frampton’s
wit does surface sharply on occasions. On being presented with his
733-page file he had to sign a confidentiality form: “I signed the
form in bad faith, so please remember that what I relate to you is
told in the strictest confidence,” he tells us in his

But I found myself being diverted by some clunky word selection –
letters from his mother are “tyrannous scrolls” – and irritated
that every excerpt from his file was in ugly blocks of italicised
capital letters. The story was further dogged by unnecessary detail
– “Spring passed into summer bringing warmer weather and lighter
nights”. I just wanted him to get on with it.

With such a painful, funny and absorbing story to be told, this
book could have been, should have
been, better.

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