Teaching gypsies – lessons learned and a poem or two.

Ann Perrin slide (546)  Ann Perrin slide (512)  Ann Perrin slide (507)

Memories of teaching gypsies on a permanent site in South London in the 70s have never left me. I did it for four years and it was one of the best jobs I ever had. They were so resourceful and not at all like the negative way in which they were often portrayed.

I have just found these sketches I did at Appleby Horse Fair when clearing out for the New Year.

P1090942      P1090941

I was once invited to join go their annual break to the fair where they would trade their horses and do a bit of dealing. It was such a unique experience I went back several times over the years.

However the people that still lived in these traditional caravans were usually from the north where they still travelled from place to place attending fairs and trying to keep their traditional way of life.

Ann Perrin slide (443)  Ann Perrin slide (433)  Ann Perrin slide (509)

I kept a diary about my experiences at the time and turned it into a book called  ‘Swop a Horse and Cart for a CSE’ but was told it would have limited appeal when I tried to get it  published. Later I modified it and gave it a new title ‘Travelling Nowhere’ but still no luck.

Finally I was asked to turn it into play which was performed at the Young Vic in London for three weeks and then went on tour. Some of the travellers I taught came to the opening night and loved it.

I have also just found the original manuscript of the book how lucky is that? I’ll know I’ll enjoy reading it again and who knows in this computer age I may yet publish it myself.

If there is a moral to this tale it has to be that I used to be more resourceful which could be a timely reminder for the New Year.

The one or two poems written in the last couple of years.


swept the floor
all morning
for something to do.
Janey Jones
fed the baby goat,
her folk out calling.

Paul, a tall dark kid
rode horses bareback.
Jakey tried to train
a hawk, Danny whittled
wood and Frankie
sang sad songs.

Old man Smith banged
the trailer door
with his stick. “Ann”
he called “get those kids
a learning.”

When they burned
her caravan, she only took
her granny’s sewing scissors.


I’ve not flown to New York
but I’ve taught gypsies to read
and watched Rosie bottle-feed
a new born goat.

I’ve not gone on a cruise,
been seated at the captain’s table
but I’ve crossed the Channel in a tiny
yacht with some two bit actors
who promised they could sail.

I’ve not run barefoot over hot coals
But I’ve wandered the Argonne Forest
dodging unspent ammunition
giving thanks for simply being alive.
Life lines

The old flower seller
at Waterloo
threw a posy into
the Prince of Wales
got arrested
but then a pardon
from the Queen.
She tied it to her
flower basket
for the rest
of the life.


Teaching gypsies
Tracy once told me
her granny was
a flower seller
at Waterloo.
One day she said
she never came home.

These poems were included in the   ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’

Happy New Year to everyone and many thanks to those that continue to read my posts.

An award winning blog  for a ‘blog that brightens our day’


This entry was posted in Ann's memoir, Ann's poems, Cheer yourself up on a dull day, Life and Times of a New Age Granny, Photography, Poetry - Creative Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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