Getting along with the neighbours (however difficult we may be)

When we first arrived at our present, built for Gypsies Site, we were told by the Site Manager (job title: Gypsy Site Manager) that we were joining a mixed Site. Fair enough, fair enough. We didn’t care – it was pretty, clean and quiet! Hurray. We are quiet people seeking a trouble free life, earning our place as local respected business people. Yes. Really.

As it turned out, the Site had mostly been used as an overflow for hard to place Gorja people, with only one Romany family and one New-ager on all of the sixteen plots. By and large, the Gorjas resented the Gypsies and when they weren’t squabbling among themselves, they made complaints to the Site Manager and we had some difficulties. Our children, dogs, chickens and music were all too loud. We sat round the fire too late into the night. We were cruel to our animals and children.
My next plot neighbour, a woman, of a similar age to me, thought we were filth and told me that the Taxman would be very interested to know that we owned two trailers; because presumably, owning two trailers is clear evidence of tax evasion. She was on the dole, herself, and I would bet that I have paid more money to HMRC in my life than she has even earned in hers.

The peeping tom was a Gorja. So was the woman who beat her husband. So was the creepy old man that we forbade the girls to make eye contact with. (Sometimes you just know something ain’t right.) We never complained but put up with a daily visit from the Site Manager who felt obliged to pass on any complaint made to him. I did always take care to mention though, that we were not living in an open prison and that he was not a warder and neither was his boss (job title: Gypsy Liaison Officer) the governor – whether she may think it or not.

A couple of years later, the troublemakers have been housed and the few remaining Gorjas live happily among the young Gypsy, mixed race and quasi Travellers that have taken their place. It’s a good community with very little trouble now. The craze for chickens seems to have passed, the dickey birds have sole rights over the dawn chorus once more; there are fewer dogs and they mostly terriers and Chihuahuas rather than lurchers.

Many more children though and we are very, very cruel to them still. Especially on birthdays, Halloween and Christmas.

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