21 SEPTEMBER 1991, Page 51

New life

Family trees

Zenga Longmore

Thanks to the gift of some charmless `My Little Pony' toys, Omalara has discov- ered the art of playing quietly by herself. Sitting on the floor, surrounded by mauve or yellow members of the equine order, some with apple trees adorning their hind flanks, she improvises little plays and sto- ries about these pony chums. This makes for a soothing and domestic atmosphere. The kind of atmosphere which prevailed in my flat last Tuesday evening. I sat writing letters to my Polish relatives, Omalara played with ponies and, in the back room, Olumba and Clawhammer Jones Bingo rehearsed the good-time acoustic tunes of their 'Palm Wine Two'. There was only one discordant note in our sitcom's theme. This note was a sharp one — Clawhammer's young, designer-dressed son, Stickleback.

Rapping Stickle of the Brixton Massive Posse (Junior Section) seemed jealous because Olumba has made a solo record, on sale only in Uncle Bisi's shop, where free copies are being given away with large purchases of cassava.

`What they go 'n' have to ask him to do a record for?' Stickle grumbled, chewing moodily on Omalara's plastic trumpet. `Inuit they should o' recorded my rap about school dinners.'

Yo, home boys, I feel disgusted - Some sucker been feeding me, heh, cold cus- tard!

`Well I'm sure if Olumba's record pro- ducer knew about your School Dinner Rap, he would never have dreamt of recording Olumba instead. Ha ha ha!'

`Why the ha ha ha line of chat? Laughing at me or summink?'

`Not at all! I'm merely chuckling over this letter I've got,' I announced, reading aloud. 'From The World Book of Long- mores, Ira Road, Bath, Ohio. Ahem. "Dear Ms Longmore, after years of effort and considerable expense, we are ready to pub- lish a new book entitled The World Book of Longmores and you are in it! Using a highly sophisticated network of computer sources in every country — except West Africa where your Longmore ancestors actually come from [I made up that bit] — we have searched through over 150 million records and compiled the most extensive registry of families called Longmore in the world today. The book contains a unique heraldic blazon granted to an early Longmore and tells how the old and distinguished Long- more family got its name".'

Stickleback listened to the letter in silence, sucking his inner cheek in a thoughtful manner. After a while, he mum- bled, 'Lob us a pen and paper, I want to write something.'

When Clawhammer popped in to collect his son, he was delighted to find the boy studiously writing a World Book of Stickle- backs. This tome, cunningly disguised as a maths exercise book, contained a full account of Sticklebacks through the ages — Two Gun Stickle, Robbin' Stickle and his Chill Out Posse, King Stickle the Massive Large, Stickleback X the Schoolboys' Rights leader and other luminaries. Helped by myself and hampered slightly by Oma- lara, the child had devised a coat of arms that proudly displayed a trainer shoe ram- pant before a background of crossed skate- boards. Father and son walked proudly into the night together, and I felt that the evening had been well spent.

Next day my complacency vanished, for paint-sprayed all over the outside wall of my tower block was copy after copy of the Stickleback coat of arms.