Wednesday 17 December 2008

The Pedlars and Gypsies of England

I always thought a Pedlar was the same as a Gypsy, but they are not. A Gypsy is often a Pedlar, but a Pedlar isn't always a Gypsy.

Gypsies and Pedlars weren't welcome in many districts of England in the early sixties. In our small Midlands village, some locals would chase them away, or call the police, often thinking of them as trouble makers. Mam always made them welcome, though, and often bought their wares when she could afford to. On one occasion, a newsreporter interviewed my mam and asked her opinion on the Gypsys who were camping nearby (actually, in the fields at the back of our house. You could see them clearly if you climbed right to the top of the tallest cherry tree in our garden). The good rap my mam gave them, obviously helped to save them from eviction, because I'm told that they eventually moved on of their own accord...

Mam knows this poem, word for word, and learned it when she was around 8 years old at school in England. She has often recited this poem to us:


I wish I ived in a caravan
With a horse to drive, like a pedlar-man
Where he comes from nobody knows,
Or where he goes to, but on he goes!

His caravan has windows too,
And a chimney of tin, that the smoke comes through;
He has a wife, with a baby brown,
And they go riding from town to town.

Chairs to mend, and delf to sell!
He clashes the basins like a bell;
Tea-trays, baskets, neat and trim;
Plates, with alphabets round the rim!

The roads are brown, and the sea is green,
But his house is like a bathing-machine;
The world is round, and he can ride,
rumble and slash, to the other side!

With the pedlar-man I would like to roam,
And write a book when I came home;
All the people would read my book
Just like the Travels of Captain Cook!


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