Borrow's Gypsies / Supplementary Note
' Let 's talk about queer owld Romanicah,' Addie Garratt ] suggested
to us” Atkinson, Winstedt, and myself” one evening during a recent visit to Yarmouth.
' Now my gran'father, Ambrose Smith,' she immediately began, ' he was such a narsty, strict, owld man, fath ! he was. I 've heard poor mammy say many a time as he used always to carry his own silver tankard in the tail-pocket of his coat, for he would not drink after gdjos in a kicema not if he was dying for a drop of beer.
'And another thing he would never do was to walk across a field where narsty mumpers had been a-in' ; he was so atras d of juvas and pisomas crawling onto him. And this is for why. Once, when he had cut his toe, he picked up a piece of clean rag off the field to bind it up with” leastways he thought it to be clean. But after a bit his foot began to itcher him.
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^" Dordi! Dordi! my dirl fokl" he pen'd, "dere's a pisom dand-'m' mandi.
Dat bit of rag mns' have been lef behind by deni j^ivli mumpdri, de beng te laser dem, de hindi juJcels. Jd avre, my dirl fokl, jd sig, and wuser mandi some puri biti Izas to civ opre my looker u. Ker sig."
'And when Sanspi and them was gone, he stripped off every kova he was
wearing, and burned them where he stood. P'ath ! he did, my blesseds.
' And once in a lane by Gorleston he came up with some of the Hernes ” No Name's people ” Sanspi's relatives. They had a cori, puri geri just merer'd, and they was going to bury her in the ditch, for they was atrasd to miik the gdjos lalav her.
' " Dddi ! md kel ajd " he pen'd.
'"For why, brother?"
' " For because the gadjos will H vrt and Icl you adre tug."
' So he did not let them bury her as they wanted to.
'Narsty, owld men them Hearns was. There was their women-folk having
always to wear men's under-kovaa for fear of what would be said if any of their own proper bits of things should be seen out to dry.
' And more like cannibals than Christians, for they would eat dawgs, or any- thing.
' Now wer'n't they queer people these owld Romanies, my roias ? '
I cannot close this note without offering my profuse apologies to the shade of Riley Boss, Boswell, or Herne, for I did that splendid old rascal a grave injustice when I attributed Lui and Hagi to him as wives. They were his sons ! T. W. Thompson.
AFFAIRS OF EGYPT, 1909
At Guildford on January 9, an aged and very deaf Gypsy was prosecuted for ill-treating a horse, by working it in an unfit condition. He gave a name that sounded something like Matthew Jennix, and, when asked how it was spelt, replied :
'They tell me it begins with a J.' Police Constable Johnson, in giving evidence, stated that, on asking Jennix if he knew that the horse was lame, he was told that
'it was foaled like it.' The Bencli requested a sujjerintendent with a stentorian voice to ask the defendant if he intended killing the horse, but the latter replied : ' I have changed it for a red one with a white face.' ' When did you chop him .
'Day 'fore yesterday.' A fine of £l was imposed, but it was some considerable time before Jennix could be made to understand the decision of the Bench. He tendered half-a-sovereign as payment, but when told that the alternative was fourteen days' imprisonment, he soon found the rest, and left the court shouting at the constable, and accusing him of 'trying to ruin an ole man.' There is no doubt
that Matthew Jennix (really Junnix) has a considerable amount of Gypsy blood in his veins, but where he picked up his name is a mystery. According to his son Charlie (who keeps a little greengrocer's shop at 5 Alma Street, Angel Lane, off Stratford Broadway, in the far east of London) he obtained it from his father, a Frenchman who married a daughter of old Draki Cooper of Epping Forest fame ”
an obvious but interesting lie.
One dark night eight or ten years ago, at about 11 p.m., when sitting by Crimea Hern's fire we heard a moorhen crying out, and the Gypsies made comments on the fact. About two months later one of Crimea's sons died at Sketty, near Swansea and I should not be surprised if he connected the two events.
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Again, in May 1911, on a Saturday night at about 10.30 p.m., I was sitting
â– with two Gypsy women, a Heme and a Lee or Scamp, in their camp among the bushes at the river-side. The children were in bed, and the men away at a music hall. The moorhens were very noisy that night, and the Heme woman exclaimed :
' May the Lord stop their breath ! ' The other, after listening intently, said in a tone of relief : ' It says " kek, kek, kek." ' The sound certainly had a little resem- blance to ' kek,' and the bird's calls came in groups of three. Alfred James.
” Old Customs"
Although Oli Lee and his wife, who are living in a tent at Newport, Men.,
awaiting the completion of a new waggon, are only about thirty years old, they keep up the ancient Gypsy customs. Mrs. Lee told me that she had her own cups, etc., when chiv'd to wodrus, and that after the month's quarantine they were broken : and she added that her mother invariably took the additional precaution of wearing gloves.
Again, whilst apologising for the lack of butter in some cake, she said that her husband never ate butter in any form, asking ” 'How long is it, Oli, since you had butter ? ' He answered quite roughly, ' How should I know, woman ? ' Then she lowered her voice and told me that their little daughter who died had been very fond of bread and butter.
Also, when I had twice corrected Oli, who referred to Cinderella Lovell (in
Way's No. 74", which I was reading) as ' Charlotte,' she told me that the child's name was Cinderella, and that he was unwilling to pronounce it,
I asked whether they would eat from a plate which a dog had licked ” Lazzie Smith allows his dog to eat from his plate ; ” and Oli, pointing to the old kettle, replied with emphasis, ” ' If that kettle was to fall into the clothes' water, we 'd smash it up.' It is pleasant to think that these customs will not die away for at least another generation.(John Myers.)