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Topic: My big fat gypsy wedding
Message: Posted by: Krisgar (Feb 9, 2011 06:26AM)
In the UK on Channel4 we have a programme airing at the moment about the way travelling communities opperate and celebrate weddings, they are huge and very grand occasions. On the programme there was a DJ, I'm not sure if he was part of the travelling community, that was never highlighted.

Has any entertainer here, or know of anyone that has entertained at such an event. How did it go? or isit a common occurance that I just haven't had yet?
Message: Posted by: Mr. Pitts (Feb 9, 2011 09:44AM)
Many years ago, about '95, I performed at a birthday party for a little girl from a family of Irish Travelers. It didn't go well, the kids were wild, the parents wouldn't participate or help in any way, and I had to find the mom after the party to get paid, AND she seemed to resent paying me. My act is much better now, plus I use a sound system, so I think I could avoid some of these problems now. But I probably wouldn't have even gotten the show because I used to work really cheap, too cheap, and I doubt they would have booked me if I were charging anywhere close to what I charge now.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Feb 9, 2011 10:05AM)
Travelers is a new one on me. I have heard them called Roma, Roman, and Romanie. Is there a difference?
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Feb 9, 2011 10:36AM)
Mr Pitts
I can't believe that you were performing 95 years ago, you look so good for your age. LOL
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Feb 9, 2011 01:56PM)
On 2011-02-09 11:05, Al Angello wrote:
Travelers is a new one on me. I have heard them called Roma, Roman, and Romanie. Is there a difference?

I think it's because in Britain there are two types of Gypsies - Irish and Roma, so I think Travellers is a PC term to incoporate both of them.

I have never performed for them, but I was speaking to a wedding photographer the other day who did do a job for a gypsy wedding and he described them as "a law unto themselves" :)

Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Feb 9, 2011 04:01PM)
Before I retired, I did several birthday shows for American gypsies. For some reason this one family called me several times with different "customer names" every time, so I never knew I had served them before and I kept bringing the same show - they had to be bored of it after the 4th time!

Anyway, that culture seems to like things to be boisterous, and I needed to try not to get upset when the show would get interrupted multiple times by the arrival of Aunt This or Uncle That insisting that their immense armload of presents get unwrapped immediately. Other than that, things went OK.
Message: Posted by: Russell Davidson (Mar 14, 2011 10:32AM)
I wouldn't give travellers the time of day in the UK. In my area they are known as pikeys, or do as you likeys.

They are without a doubt the most awful collection of people you'd ever want to meet let alone work for. Fighting is part of life for them so violence would be an issue & I doubt you'd get paid.

Can't speak for other parts of the world but in the UK I'd steer well clear.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 14, 2011 11:07AM)
I have performed several times for Irish travellers. Travellers are boisterous, unruly, and fun. I have never had a difficulty getting paid. Just don't expect them to sit quietly.

Often they can be generous tippers as well. If they have the money they are not scared of spending it.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 14, 2011 11:12AM)
Many travellers are lovely folk. I used to share a squat with an absolutely lovely Irish "Gypsy" as she insisted we call her. Though NOT "Gippo"! In fact, both terms are regarded as derogatory. She made me realise that the vast majority of travellers are actually very decent people, they just have a very different way of seeing things. Unfortunately it's the ones who trash the sites they live on, steal and vandalise around the local area, and are offensive and violent, that are the ones that make the headlines.
I've also entertained at a traveller's birthday party, but they were fairly wealthy, and the "caravan" was more like a luxury house. You didn't realise the place was actually mobile, until you looked beneath the fake bricks-and-mortar cladding around the bottom of the place, and saw the wheels!
The kids were pretty wild, it's true, but they were also a wonderful audience, albeit incredibly cheeky and unpredictable. They paid my full fee without ever asking for a discount, and gave me a nice tip.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 14, 2011 11:38AM)
Here's a story about Mary-Ellen - the Gypsy lady I got to know very well when 10 of us were living in a squat in Tooting:
Mary-Ellen's life had been very troubled, her ex-husband was violent and had murdered two of her kids. She had four others, 3 of whom lived in the squat. They were ages 4, 6, and 8. One time not long after we all met, another of the squatters and I were heading into London, and agreed to take the 4 and 6 year olds with us. We went by tube, and from the moment we got on that train, they turned into the kids from hell. They were charging up and down the carriage, screaming and laughing, and taunting the other passengers. The more my mate and I tried to calm them and have them sit down, the more they played up. Nearing our destination, a woman with a child of about 5 boarded the train, and sat near us. Her little boy had a "Mars" bar (that's a "Milky Way" to you guys in the US). Seeing this, the 6-year old we were "in charge of" grabbed the candy and guzzled it down, running with glee down the carriage.
I was mortified, and paid the woman for the candy.....
The rest of the outing was similar, with these two kids behaving SO badly, like nothing I'd ever seen before.
We eventually got them (with some difficulty) back to the squat. I was EXHAUSTED!
The two kids reported to their mum that they'd had a fantastic time...they really had a good time, it seems!
Well, the thing that was remarkable, was that from that day forward, those gypsy kids were like little angels. I NEVER once saw them playing up again! I realised that it had been a test to see how we would react. I'm sure more subconscious than deliberate. Would we box them round the ears, swear at them, and have them cowering in fear? Because we didn't, and just dealt with them kindly, despite their bad behaviour, we'd passed their test. In time I became very fond of them, they were actually the sweetest, most adorable kids you could imagine. They even loved going to school (which unfortunately was a very rare treat for them).
We were all of the opinion that Social Services would have put them into care instantly if they knew of their circumstances. My belief then, (and it still is), is that this would have been a far greater problem than allowing them to grow up with practically no education. They were devoted to their mum, and putting them into care would definitely have resulted in that wicked side of their personalities being brought right to the fore.
Sadly Mary-Ellen and her kids vanished one day. She left a note to say that certain folks had caught up with her, and she had to leave. I often wonder what happened to those kids, it always struck me that they never had much of a chance in life. But at least in their hearts, they were kind, loving and funny, which I believe is more important than anything else.
Oh, God, that's made me feel so sad to remember. If I knew then what I know now.....
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 14, 2011 12:44PM)
Hi Doug. Thanks for sharing that touching story with us. It is good to see that someone can look beyond the stereotypes and see the humanity in these people. Tony.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Mar 14, 2011 02:11PM)
Wonderful story, Doug!

Thank you for sharing it.

Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Mar 14, 2011 02:54PM)
In connection with my interest in fairground/carnival history, I wrote a page on Gypsies and Travelers - turns out to be overwhelmingly the most-viewed page on my site. 53,000 views and climbing ... and every now and then I get an outraged response (or the very occasional approving response) from a Gypsy.

You can see it [url=http://www.goodmagic.com/carny/gypsies.htm]HERE[/url]
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 14, 2011 09:15PM)
Is it just me, or does anyone else find the comments of Russell Davidson offensive and racist? Most British travellers have Irish roots, and as an Irish man I am deeply offended by his rantings.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 15, 2011 02:28AM)
Yes, I agree Tony. But sadly he does voice an opinion that is held by a lot of english folk. The press have done little to change public opinion, you only read about travellers when it's negative stuff. I didn't see the Big Fat Wedding prog, but have noticed it's been all over the national papers - again full of negative rhetoric.
For some reason racism and bigotry in the UK seems to be OK, so long as it's directed to our own people and religions. I'm glad that I'm a Welsh/Scot, and have not a drop of english blood in me!
Message: Posted by: Russell Davidson (Mar 15, 2011 03:53AM)
Sorry you're offended Tony but I can only speak from experience. The traveller community I have encountered have caused many problems in my life. I have witnessed first hand violence, theft & total disregard for the law or anyone's feelings.

They may not be all the same but I won't be taking any more chances. If that makes me a racist then so be it.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 15, 2011 04:50AM)
Yes, Russell, it makes you a racist and a bigot. There's nothing more to add, really. I don't accept justifications for racism.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 15, 2011 07:36AM)
This term 'traveller' is accurate, all-embracing and very old. My maternal Grandmother was a traveller. As she died before I was born and my own mother died when I was only a few months old I never knew my maternal side for a very long time. But when I did, it answered many questions. I am a traveller. It can be a confusing term.

The problem lies with its general application to a very wide and differing range of types of people who travel. Some are semi-settled and are thieves and vandals and a curse on their surroundings. People speak as they find and understandably if you have your property devalued and your possessions stolen and trashed, you will be wanting such people to move on or be moved on and not to return.

Others are also semi-settled and honest workers, good family people who live as well as anyone in the surrounding houses. Some lack of understanding will always exist as generally people keep themselves to themselves. House dwellers might be surprised at some aspects of their house-life they considerer essential which certain travellers - gypsies particularly - find unhygienic and quite unacceptable.

You might also be surprised by the personal lifestyles of many travellers. They respect their families, respect themselves, sometimes the girls dress like tarts but believe me, mostly marry as virgins and maintain a strong Christian belief.

One reason why people generally use the term 'travellers' is to avoid the complications of separating out the different types of traveller, all of whom fiercely defend their own lifestyle as quite different to those of all the other travellers.

Part of my family worked and lived alongside one of the most well known of UK Gypsy families - the Boswells - at the turn of the 19th/20th century when Blackpool was developing around what is now the Pleasure Beach. I learnt from an early age that Romanies are people to be respected as any other.

There is a world of difference between Romanies, Irish Tinkers, Pykies, New Age Travellers (the travelling Hippies of the 60s and 70s), fairground families and workers, Circus families and workers and people like me who, like my maternal Grandmother a hundred years ago, travel my show around the UK outdoor showgrounds from Easter to October and the town and city centres the rest of the year.

Any group of people, whoever they are will be a mix of the good and the not so good - in every application of that word.

It is a fact that in the UK people who travel are often of 'No Fixed Abode' which infers distrust. Indeed, at one time the police could stop and check your address and if a traveller - of no fixed abode - demand proof of self sufficiency. You had to produce a shilling (one twelfth of a pound sterling) as that was considered the minimum required to obtain a nights lodging. That fell into disuse in the 1970s. Indeed, and again until only a few years ago, any actor or entertainer was automatically considered under the Vagrancy Act along with Thieves and Vagabonds.

You see, the people who create the rules live in big houses and only ever dream of running away to live in the circus.

Anyone really interested in UK entertainers and travellers of old should consult the UK Census Returns from 100 and more years ago. Here they will find the people recorded who lived in caravans where they were on Census Day. My neighbour recently checked an old census for his and the surrounding cottages. Surprising result. They were being used as theatrical lodgings.

Some cottages had people from the local theatre show who were of 'no fixed abode' - many variety/vaudeville acts owned no property and spent their entire lives in lodgings. His cottage was accommodating a Mr Fred Karno whose company were in the other cottages. He had Bed and Board and it appears also the use of the landlord's daughter who he took with him when he moved on and eventually married her when it was lawful. At the time she was only 14. I think he eventually left her here in the UK when he moved to America.

And next door was lodging another of his company who went with him to America. A Mr Charles Chaplin.

I wonder whatever happened to him?
Message: Posted by: Russell Davidson (Mar 15, 2011 08:45AM)
On 2011-03-15 05:50, TonyB2009 wrote:
Yes, Russell, it makes you a racist and a bigot. There's nothing more to add, really. I don't accept justifications for racism.

Well maybe one day someone will invade your life, make it a misery & commit acts of violence towards you. Then you can be aloof & still love them regardless.
Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Mar 15, 2011 10:29AM)
On 2011-03-15 09:45, Russell Davidson wrote:
Well maybe one day someone will invade your life, make it a misery & commit acts of violence towards you. [/quote]

Insert 1970s marriage gag here.

I sincerely hope nothing of the sort happens to Tony but if it did maybe he'd view that "someone" as a bad person rather than that person's community or culture.

I'm sorry to hear you had a bad experience, Russell. It doesn't justify your opinions though.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 15, 2011 11:23AM)
I'm with George on this one.
On Saturday a traveller, Willie Casey, from a caravan site in Limerick, will be fighting for the world super-bantamweight title. The whole country will unite behind him, because we have moved on from the primitive racism of less civilised times. Views like Russell's might have been common in the seventies, but the rest of us have moved on. Shame he hasn't.
In the seventies it was common to see signs in boarding houses saying: "No blacks, no dogs, no Irish." Does he want us to return to that?
Message: Posted by: sleight king (Mar 15, 2011 11:27AM)
TonyB2009 - You are over reacting. Russell is stating an opinion and is allowed to do so.
Personally I pick very carefully who I work for based on a number of things, but this doesn't make me a racist!
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 15, 2011 01:28PM)
Tony, there were 20 shillings in a pound Sterling, if I'm not mistaken....otherwise your story is as usual, fascinating and informative.
Russell's opinion is that "one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel"....this is today considered to be an oafish and ignorant way of perceiving cultures and societies. Although there is a grain of truth in the senitment, it's absurdly generalising about people's personalities.
Of course, (playing the Devil's advocate), you could look at Hitler and Nazi Germany......
or, you could consider the Americans' perception of Russian folk in the 70s......or the Americans' perception of Muslims today.......etc
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 15, 2011 02:52PM)
Potty, both you and Tony are wrong (I think). Back in the seventies weren't there 24 shillings to the pound, and 25 to the guinea? That was pre-decimilisation.
Sleight King, I don't believe I am over-reacting. It is not possible to over-react to racism. If he made those remarks about coloured people, Jews, Muslims, or gays we would all be reacting as I am. Russell was not just stating an opinion, he was condemning an entire race in a highly offensive way.
Like most Irish people above a certain age I have experienced the racism of the British. I believed it had died out. Thankfully most British people don't share the racist views of guys like Russell. But some still do, so there is still a problem. And I will continue reacting to that problem.
Its a short enough step from this to electing National Front candidates.
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 15, 2011 03:33PM)
Maths never was my strong point but yes Doug, you re correct.

12 pence = 1 shilling

20 shillings = 1

240 pence = 1

1. I shilling = I guinea.

The guinea came about as a consequence of 1 gold coins - known always as sovereigns - were found to contain gold whose face value was 1. 1 shilling - due to international gold prices having risen. So those sovereigns were designated as guineas and the guinea persisted till 1970.

professions were paid in guineas and professional entertainers charged in guineas - the extra shillings paid for the fuel costs.

To this day racehorses are bought and sold in guineas and horse race prize money is in guineas.

Long may it continue.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 15, 2011 03:38PM)
Tony, do you remember the 10 shilling note? That was half a quid. Which makes 20 shillings to the pound, and there were 21 shillings in a guinea. There were however, 12 pennies in a shilling, a farthing was a quarter of a penny, then we had the ha'penny (half a penny), a crown (five shillings), a half crown (two and a half shillings), a Florin (two shillings), and a "thruppence" - possibly the cutest coin ever, with 11 sides I think, which was three pennies. There were 240 pennies to a pound.
When decimalisation happened in '71, folks were totally confused by the "new money". Having just 100 pence in the pound seemed outrageous, and many people believed it simply would never catch on, it was SO confusing. He he.
Quoted from THIS page on Wikipedia about the shilling... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shilling

"The United KingdomThe common currency created in 1707 by Article 16 of the Articles of Union continued in use until decimalisation in 1971. Before decimalisation, there were 20 shillings/pound and 12 pence/shilling, and thus 240 pence/pound. Two coins denominated in multiple shillings were also in circulation at this time. They were the florin, which adopted the value of 10 new pence (10p), and the crown (five shillings), the highest denominated non-bullion UK coin in circulation at decimalisation (in practice, crowns were commemorative coins not used in everyday transactions). The half crown had a value of 2/6. At decimalisation, the shilling coin was superseded by the new five-pence piece, which initially was of identical size and weight and had the same value, and inherited the shilling's slang name of a bob."
I think I'm old enough to remember, and still young enough not to get confused....
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 15, 2011 04:02PM)
I still remember trying to multiply prices - let's say 13/17/8d (thirteen pounds, seventeen shillings and eightpence) by 7. You had to multiply each part of the price, and then add them together. In this case, 7x13 pounds = 91 pounds, 7x 17 shillings = 119 shillings, and 7 x 8 pennies = 56 pennies. Then add them together: 56 pennies = 4 shillings and 8 pence; 119 shillings = 5 pounds and 19 shillings, plus the 91 pounds. Which gives 91 pounds plus 5 pounds and 19 shillings - 96 pounds and 19 shillings.....plus the 4 shillings and 8 pence, which gives 96 pounds, 23 shillings and 8 pence. But 23 shillings was one pound and three shillings, so this would become 97 pounds, 3 shillings and 8 pence. All this without including farthings, which were a quarter penny, and used to make the calcualations even more complicated. Try 15/19/8d and three-farthings multiplied by 9? Or, you could work in guineas, and suddenly your basic unit was 21 shillings instead of 20.....
Of course, you had to DIVIDE prices too, which was even MORE difficult.
I wonder if it was our ridiculously complicated monetary system that gave Brits the mental edge, and is the reason we produced so many great scientists and mathematicians?
Message: Posted by: keeblem (Mar 15, 2011 04:51PM)
On 2011-03-15 03:28, Potty the Pirate wrote:
I'm glad that I'm a Welsh/Scot, and have not a drop of english blood in me!

That's almost certainly not true! :) The great thing about being from these islands is that "your blood" is from several places. We've been invaded so many times I doubt if there is anybody of who is not of mixed origins.

What is "English" anyway? Most English are considered of Ango-Saxon origin - which actually makes us German!

Message: Posted by: magicgeorge (Mar 16, 2011 04:41AM)
I'm pretty certain I'm 100% tigerblood.
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Mar 16, 2011 03:50PM)
On 2011-03-16 05:41, magicgeorge wrote:
I'm pretty certain I'm 100% tigerblood.
George, I think you're 100% clown blood. Maybe it was a circus tiger?
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Mar 17, 2011 05:59AM)
Have you any Fossetts in your family George? Anyone with red hair?

Or maybe a Duffy or two?
Message: Posted by: mr shiney (Mar 17, 2011 08:13PM)
I was doing a show at a family pud when a group of gypsy's came ( they had cut the padlock to the gate of the car park and moved on the land for the night)
About 10 kids came in and stared to jion in with the partie games (I did not know they were gypsy's) I sat the group down for a game of pass the parcel gave the parcel to a girl about 7 she riped it up grabed the prize and ran off! Then 3 other kids went on the stage grabed sweets and run of the the adluts at the back had stared kicking off and smahing glasses starting fights and the police had to be call (nobody know at this time they were gypsy's)
Now I'm shure 95% of gypsy''s are good people but the ones that I meet that night were scum (What chance have them childern got when they think its ok to steal) and are the ones that give gypsy's a bad name and just like when you go to go do a party in a really ruff area 95% off the poeple that live there are great its just 5% of scum that spoil it for the rest.
It remind me of chris rock's famous comdy rutine.

So I'm not racist when it comes to colour, nationality, culture,
But I am when it comes to the small % of scum on this earth
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 17, 2011 08:56PM)
Mr Shiney, a couple of bad eggs does not entitle anyone to condemn an entire race. If it did I could write off the British on the basis of Russell's racist ********. And we all know that would be irrational.
Message: Posted by: seadog93 (Mar 17, 2011 09:48PM)
I just saw this article online. I'm at my "day job" (work), so I haven't even read the whole thing but it looks very interesting.

Also, having lots of reasons to decline a show is fine, but if one of those reasons is race that would, by definition, make you racist. Right?

I'm not sure if this is totally relevant or not (as far as I know I haven't had contact with travellers), but (in my limited experience):
I've noticed that people with very large immediate families and/or very close extended families tend to be rowdier than most, regardless of race. This can difficult to deal with if you are not used to it.

Also I've noticed that groups (racial, economic or other) who are disenfranchised and looked upon with mistrust and suspicion tend to be rowdy and aggressive toward outsiders. For obvious reasons.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Mar 18, 2011 05:19AM)
Courtney you are right in both your observations. I, like a lot of other people, have had positive experiences with travellers when we remove the blinkers of prejudice.

I have also found that the children of the very wealthy tend to be rude and obnoxious. So, in general, do kids who were sent to private, fee paying, schools. However I do not dismiss the rich because of that. I just go into those shows with my eyes open, and ready for the reaction.

The difference between the rudeness of the rich and of travellers is that behind the veneer travellers are often the nicer of the two groups. But not always. Just like any other group you get the good and the bad. I wouldn't judge any group by one example. Which is why I still like English people, despite the racism of Russell Davidson.
Message: Posted by: knick23 (Mar 21, 2011 05:22PM)
It sounds like you've had a bad experience Russel, and it's fair enough to be upset, but how many travellers have you actually met? It's seems like you've had very limited (and negative) contact with these people, so it's fair to say you're largely ignorant of them, and ignorance tends to breed fear, and fear hate.

Growning up in Cardiff the majority of my contact with the English was with their Football and Rugby fans, so as a kid I tended to think that despite what I saw of the English on tv, the reality was that they were in fact all drunkards with purple faces who liked to urinate in dustbins. But now I'm older and I've come to realise that that is not always the case, many like to urinate in doorways and on shop-fronts also.

But seriously, I get where you're coming from, I just recommend that you meet some more Travellers and make an effort to understand them. Can anyone confidently say that an entire group of people are all 'bad'(note: CCFC excluded).