Last night I slept in a four poster bed in a room older than America at The Feathers Hotel built in 1560. Ledbury is a satisfied town. It pleasures itself with Christianity and The British Flag – four of them, hang indelicately flaccid outside the hotel. The Ledbury citizen is living the English dream attainable only through the anabolic state.
No need for cultural self examination here .The penultimate performance on tour last night at Market Theatre was satisfactory and the question and answer session that followed was mildly stimulating like cloves. This morning I decided against better judgement to get a coffee at the Deli. As I sat outside with a latte a country gentleman in a trilby sat next to me “enjoyed the performance last night” he said conspiratorially.
“Didn’t say…” he said “but quite a few of us were thinking the same… of…. Sam.” I had no idea where this was going “ He is from Ghana… was in a childrens home.. here. Left …Ledbury when he left the children’s home. He returned and he’s lived here ever since… a bricklayer..” said the man “lovely chap” he leaned forward and said “he’s known as Sam. It’s a nickname we gave him as children” He looked slightly hesitant and feigned shame and came to the reason for the tale. “But this week I found out his real name. It’s Derek. He’s a great example of integration”
Sam is short for Sambo a common slave name found as far back as the 18th Century in Thackary’s novel Vanity Fair. It is the name of a slave buried at Morcambe Bay. It is an offensive, backward term used to denigrate and dehumanise. To take the name from a grown man on the basis of the colour of his skin is disgusting. It says everything a visitor need know about the “historic town of Ledbury”. I fled Ledbury for Liverpool and the final performance of the tour .