There is quite a lot about the dreadful racism suffered by the Romanis and many of us house-dwellers should be ashamed of ourselves. There was one point on which I disagreed, however. During the Second World War Romani men (and their horses) might be conscripted. She seems to regard this as persecution. Of course, house-dwellers were also conscripted and it might be argued that the Romanis should have been exempted because the war was not being fought 'in their name'. Although, of course, the fate that Romanis suffered in Nazi Germany, where they were exterminated in gas camps, might suggest that at least to some degree the war was being fought 'for' them. Which brings us to an interesting 'social contract' type question: to what extent does a person who cuts themselves off from benefits from society nevertheless be obliged to contribute towards society?
There are some great stories. I found the funniest the one in which young Maggie, at school, played her first game of hockey. She understood the basics - you had to hit the ball with the stick - and ran up and down the pitch scoring goals. There was a commotion. The teacher pointed out that she should only score goals at one end because she was in a team. She hadn't understood the concept of teams.
Some great lines that possess sometimes a very different metaphor or perspective:
- "A good, big fire would put the frost in its place wherever we pulled in." (p 30)
- “They would go through the breeding of the horse, chamming [boasting] on for what seemed like hours.” (p 104)
- “I know what you’s like with the lush [alcohol] down your neck.” (p 111)
- “He got as drunk as a handcart.” (p 155)
- “We were not young enough to be put to bed, not old enough to be treated like adults.” (p 171)
- “If a stranger has come upon us they would’ve thought we'd been touched by the moon.” (p 186)
- “She would’ve laughed if her granny’s arse had caught fire.” (p 235)
- “To other travellers, my name became bigger than me body.” (p 250)
- “Retrospective was the new way forward!” (p 251)
- “I ... know me run as good as any rabbit in his warren.” (p 259)
Well told with some great stories, simply written. I could feel the pleasure in an outdoor way of life, knowing about badgers and pea plants, whilst at the same time regretting the hardships. I loved the integration of Romani words. But most of all I enjoyed her unique perspective on life.
December 2017; 276 pages