It’s no secret that I love a good read, and on the recommendation of keepinglifenomadic.blogspot.com I went to our local library to find the book Gypsy Boy, written by Mikey Walsh. I’ve always been rather pleased of my own gypsy heritage, rather like the Aussies who can claim a convict in their ancestry, I expect. My great, great, great Grandfather Robert Beresford was a gypsy, and I can just imagine this dark handsome stranger sweeping my G,G,G, Grandmother off her feet. This must be why we have a caravan and why I love travelling!!
The book tells of a life of violence where young boys must uphold the family honour by taking part in bare knuckle fighting. The author relates how his father started training him from a very young age, disregarding that the boy had no interest or aptitude in fighting. Beatings and cruelty were commonplace, and eventually young Mikey sneaks away from home as a teenager when he discovers he is gay. This dishonours his father, who tries to track him down to kill him.
As well as finding the violence against the gypsy women and children so shocking, I was dismayed at the attitude the gypsies had towards the rest of the population - people they call Gorgies. Stealing, doing shoddy “fly-by-night” workmanship, and ripping off elderly people in particular is considered normal and how they make a living. As a law-abiding person who is upset by the thought of any dishonesty, my Romany genes are obviously well diluted by now, and I found the book all rather disturbing. I’m presuming that my Romany ancestor left the gypsy life when he married as I have not come across anything to dispute this, so perhaps it is easier for a man to leave the fold than a woman. Or maybe he was shunned once he left. Wonder how I would ever find out? Perhaps someone in the wider family who is working on the family tree will be able to fill in the gaps.