Life on the Road No 3


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Whilst Les, Edna and their daughter Daisy have become settled this past five years they still live in a handsome showman’s caravan and keep their bowtop and Reading wagons on site with them along with their three horses, two dogs, singing birds and eight bantams. This keeps them closer to nature and the natural world that they love, and have spent over seventy years, moving from place to place in the highways and byways of Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. In the summer of 2014 they decided to come out again on the road and it was whilst they were camped on Mellis Common, the largest common in Suffolk, that I recorded them. Steve Matthews who had camped with them, many years ago at Stow Fair, told me that I would be in for some good stories and as ever he was right. In August they moved, along with their horses, dogs, bantams to a wide verge on a quiet country road at St. James South Elmham near Halesworth where they hoped to have a fire for cooking, something the local residents had told them not to do at Mellis for fear of disturbing wild orchids. They had not been camped long before a local landowner arrived asking them what they were doing and pointing out to them that he owned this field and that field. ‘This land belongs to me,’ said Les. ‘Clever aren’t you?’ said the landowner. ‘No,’ said Les, who had been brought up by a father who had taught him that you can go anywhere in this world with a civil tongue and soap and water. ‘That land from that hedge across the road to that hedge belongs to the Crown and that means you and me and whilst I am in posession of it, it is mine and we will keep and leave it clean,’ said Les, who had been moved on more times than there are stars in the sky. There was no more trouble from the landowner. There is a time in life to concede and a time in life when one needs to stand one’s ground, and survival depends on knowing which. It is a delicate balance and something that only experience can tell and Les and his family had plenty of that in their quest for for an unencumbered life close to nature. Les’s mother although she could read which is device unfamiliar to Les and Edna, would only speak Romany at home and you will hear Les break into his natural tongue. Gipsey words used here: Gorger or Gorgio - a non gipsey. Gel for the luva - push for the money. Mandy - me. Kel the much - make the man clear off. Coren - stealing.

Product Code: NLDVD84




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