Stevenage man shocked by 'gollies on sticks'

A MAN who suffered racial abuse as a child and endured taunts of golliwog during verbal attacks says he is shocked and disgusted that a shop in Stevenage is selling gollies on a stick . Gollies – rebranded since wog became a slur towards black people

A MAN who suffered racial abuse as a child and endured taunts of 'golliwog' during verbal attacks says he is shocked and disgusted that a shop in Stevenage is selling 'gollies on a stick'.

Gollies - rebranded since 'wog' became a slur towards black people - are currently for sale as a garden ornaments at J Deamer & Son, a hardware store on Stevenage High Street.

Gollies - created in the 1890s - have courted controversy over the years due to their perceived racial connotations, and their popularity has subsequently declined.

A disgusted Stevenage resident, who did not want to be named, said: "As a person of mixed race I find it highly offensive that they are being sold at Deamer's. Its a multi-cultural society in Stevenage and gollies have no place here."


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He said when he saw the 'gollies on a stick' for sale he felt "shocked and embarrassed".

"I felt it my duty to speak to the lady at the till," he said. "I asked if they had had any complaints, and she just told me it's not illegal to sell them. It may not be illegal but it's immoral, and it's not acceptable."

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From 1910, a golly was the mascot for British jam manufacturer James Robertson and Sons, and promotional golly badges were introduced in the 1920s. But in 1988 the character stopped being used in television advertising, and the promotion was withdrawn in 2001.

"All my life as a child I was called a golliwog," said the 41-year-old Stevenage man. "When Robertson dropped the golly as its mascot it was the happiest day of my life."

He added: "We live in an intelligent world. The shop staff must be aware of the effect this will have. If they haven't put too much thought into it, then they should have done. It's offending people - my friends are livid. I'm going to boycott the shop and so are so many others."

Manager of J Deamer & Son, Stuart Deamer, said: "My lady likes them. She's sold lots of them and a lot of people like them.

"I have not had one person stop me and say I shouldn't be selling them. If it caused a problem, its not in my interest to go on selling them."

In 2006, three gollies were seized from a shop in Hertfordshire under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to display material which could be threatening, abusive or insulting.

In 2007, Greater Manchester Police seized two gollies from a shop after a complaint that the dolls were offensive.

A spokesman for Herts Police said: "It's not an offence to sell them, but they're obviously out of date and potentially offensive to people.

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