Well the year the lady mentions is the year the comic came out, and the characters seem to be saying things that are quite specific as a veiled criticism but don't really work as ordinary dialogue. And honestly, I know many people find them very offensive, but golliwogs are not nearly as shocking as Doctor Cloaca or Captain Priapus must be, and even that Indian chief must come close. So to get super-offended about one bad thing and just be kind of embarrassed about the others, is either bad writing or something deeper. I think Rich is onto something.
I don't see it either. I was fucking astounded to see a golliwog hanging from someone's rear view mirror recently though, I haven't seen one in real life since they were still on marmalade jars.
I never knew about them at all until a few years ago but I grew up in the Deep South in the US. A lot of the people there had "lawn jockey" statues. There seem to be fewer with each passing year whenever I visit that part of the country, though.
How times have changed. I remember very well when I was a kid, my parents would cut out the tokens on the back of the Robertson's Golden Shred marmalade jars. I think you had to collect about 8 and send them off for enamel badges of a range of 'Golliwogs'. Then you could turn on the telly to watch the Black And White Minstrel Show on the BBC. I imagine that's what this scene is having a dig at - our great British cultural heritage.
On a slightly different note, are Mieville's books worth reading? A friend recommended him to me a few months ago, but I'm always hesitant when people recommend novels or music to me. Films, TV and comics don't seem to be too too much of an issue, but friends seem to have the uncanny ability to recommend books and records to me that at best do nothing for me (and at worst... well, let's not go there).