Thank You Mr Crombie
Lessons in Guilt and Gratitude to the British
Bracing yet affectionate reflections on migration, race and society in Britain since the 1960s, by a journalist who was the BBC’s first ever non-white editor.
Mihir Bose, born in Kolkata shortly before Indian independence in 1947, still feels an enormous debt of gratitude to Mr Crombie, the UK Home Office official who fulfilled his dreams of settling in Britain. Having studied there in the 1960s before heading back to India under parental pressure, he later returned to London. Shiva Naipaul, doubting that Bose could become a writer, mocked him for reembracing the colonial lash—but Bose would prove him wrong.
This absorbing memoir shows how Britain has changed dramatically for the better since the ’60s. Then, Indian food was shunned, not adored; landladies wouldn’t rent Bose a room; white women would not have relationships, because they wanted white babies; and he suffered several assaults, fearing for his life.
In those early days, Bose could not imagine that the British would take such enormous strides towards multi-racial harmony. While this extraordinary transformation has reinforced his faith in the nation’s capacity for change, Britain’s complex, at times deeply shameful, imperial legacy must still be addressed. India has been proving its doubters wrong, and striving to come to terms with its tortured past. Can twenty-first-century Britain, too, grow once again, and earn the gratitude of future generations?
Mihir Bose has enjoyed colonial dividends working for The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph, was the BBC’s first sports editor and first non-white editor, and has written over fifty books, winning several awards. He was the first journalist in the UK to specialise in covering the business of sport.