I want to let you know how privileged we feel.
We walk into a room with a relative stranger and over the course of our time there, we capture the smiles and Laughter and also the hurts and the pride of a life time.
Thursday I was invited into the home of Sarann and her parents. I know of this family but only like anyone else would know of the family down the street
Walking into the home of another Gypsy family and asking for their pictures is liking expecting a stranger to bear their very soul. After they force feed me tea and chocolate cake, we end up laughing and joking , smiling and sharing.
I also find new links to my own family tree. I am amazed when the names Varey, Nicholson and Hall are mentioned each time I do an interview.
The elderly George Smith’s first question is one I am very used to, its about my Old Granddad Tom, Not many old dealing men don’t know the name of Tom Cannon. Finding out who your family is, is like showing your papers, your green card, your pedigree. We then go on to discuss the Donkey Rides at the St Leger Races and drinking in pubs around Doncaster. the terrible story of the Reading wagon being over turned and almost destroyed and the strange joy of finding no broken mirrors.
A very traditional Gypsy family who were also industrious, they worked in arenas most Gypsies didn’t venture. “Dukkers” for
generations, they also saw other avenues to explore within Fair Grounds.
(Despite what many think Fair Grounds are not run by Gypsies, but by “showmen”, or Travelling Show People. Unlike Gypsies and Irish Travellers they are not protected under the race relations act, they consider themselves “White British Business People”. however they do come under the very confusing “Traveller Banner”)
A twinkle comes into George Smiths eye as he tells stories of his youth and meeting his wife. she was a “Hull, Hall” up until the 1970 when she became Mrs George Smith and moved to Doncaster, Bentley to be precise. The family are now settled in a quiet leafy area of Doncaster and as I am walked back to my car a cheeky neighbour pops out to jokingly ask “what are the Gypsies up to now” this leads to another hour of my time being escorted around gardens and being told what good neighbours the Smith Family are.
This project is difficult, stressful and tiring… but most of all its a privileged. I get to meet and share some amazing stories. In some cases the memories are so vivid you feel almost like a Time Traveller