Darlings, What Would The Neighbours Think? : Growing up in a remote part of Colonial
by Susie Gale
Not only a captivating memoir of growing up in a remote part of what was then Nyasaland (now Malawi), but also a wonderful tribute to her parents, especially her Mother, Susie Gale has written of an unusual and happy childhood. Her mother’s family had settled in the Cape Colony in 1820 and it was this inherent spirit that led her to marry an Englishman who worked for an Overseas Development firm. Their first home in Malawi was a daub and wattle thatched cottage with a ‘chimbuzi’ – an outside toilet/longdrop – surrounded by forest, bush and wild animals. The nearest town was 68 miles away on rough, dusty, dry roads that were impassable in the rains. But “Mum”, who learned the language, collected water in a bucket, protected her husband with a shotgun while he was trying to re-start the vehicle, chased hyena off the veranda, fought bush fires – and with a very “British” stiff upper-lip, brought up three lively girls with the admonishment “Darlings, what would the neighbours think?” expecting them to behave as young ladies should.
Like all children, the girls, with their totally different personalities, managed to enjoy all sorts of escapades, some of what Susie Gale recounts with great humour. Through the good days, the hard days, the sad days, this loving family connected with their environment, developing a life-long respect and love of nature. Beautifully written with some lovely old family photographs, this is a truly evocative memoir of untamed Africa.