Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gypsy Dualism

This post is partly in honour of our own Raggle-Taggle Gypso-O Mr Gyppo Byard, who seems to be back blogging with a passion, and partly because I live in country that is virtually a stud farm supplying gypsies to the world. It’s often occurred to me that there’s a serious gap between the perceptions in, on the one hand, literature and, on the other, the pages of the e.g. The Daily Mail. I was once involved in a play based on an sappy Spanish story about the romantic lives of gypsies, then when the director was driving us back to his house he saw a caravan at the bottom of the road and exclaimed “Bloody tinkers back again – go on, clear off!!” I’m sure he had his reasons, and good ones, but the dichotomy struck me as exquisite and led me to thoughts of Cartesian Dualism, Platonic idealism, Hegelian dialectics and all manner of other types of shite. And so, I wish hereby to do my bit to close the gap between these two perceptions, creating a synthesis that fosters mutual understanding and allows the peoples of the world to live in peace etc, by substituting the pejorative “Gyppo” for the still romantic “Gypsy” into several well-known phrases:

The Gyppo Kings

Many people’s introduction to flamenco and flamboyant Spanish gypsies. But the group’s actually from France and plays mainly rumba, which is borderline flamenco at best. However, kings they are as all Gypsies are royalty: their sub-culture status allows this, while the rest of us are mere subjects of some inbred anachronism. The Romanian King (of kings) is a man called Florin Cioabă, whose surname means “soup” (almost) and who got into hot water when he forced his 12-year-old daughter (against her will) to get married. Them royals, eh??

Gyppo Creams

Whatever happened to Gypsy Creams? is one of those questions that people of a certain age with lots of spare time and an Internet connection love to ask. They were a type of biscuit made by McVities - and maybe will be again – and if memory serves were like round Bourbons but more crunchy and with a filling like butterscotch. I suppose the only “Gypsy” thing about them was that they were here one day and gone the next.

Gyppo Toast

Bread soaked in milk and raw egg and then fried in a pan. I’ve never heard of gypsies eating this, though in Romania they have a reputation for eating snails; (and I don’t blame them, the ones here are the most succulent-looking I’ve ever seen and remind me of those I’ve paid good money for in fancy delicatessens). I’ve also heard it called ”French toast”. Taking everything together, this begs the question: Les Gyppos… Les Français … ou est la différence??

Dehavilland Gyppo Moth

Geoffrey de Havilland must have been a brilliant engineer: he gave us the “Wooden Wonder” the world’s first commercial jet airliner, very nearly the world’s first plane to break the sound barrier, and the “Moth” series of biplanes beloved of amateur enthusiasts such as David Gower. Maybe it was due to de Havilland’s swashbuckling style that he gave the name “Gipsy” to the engines he manufactured to power many of these, and this stuck as a generic name for the ‘planes as well. Seeing the way that gypsies drive their horse and carts, it’s not a bad one.

Gossard Gyppo

Anybody remember this bra? Anybody ever worn one? Was it comfy?? I was once walking in the hills here on a very hot summer’s day and met a fine Gypsy woman of about 35 who’d stripped down to her skirt and bra and, judging by her smile, was enjoying the feeling. Had I been any sort of man I’d have laid her down her there and then in the corn field with the proud maize cobs battling like swords in the air above us. But she probably had her husband and brothers waiting with knives behind a tree for just such an occasion. I also never got to ask if the bra she was wearing was a Gossard, and if it was comfy.

Next time, to the same ends, I carry out the reverse process: “Oi, sling your hooks you Gentlemen of the Road!”, “Why don’t you clear up your bloody rubbish you Princes Amongst Men!” and pub signs declaring “No Real Rroms”. To end, scenes from the Moldovan Emil Loteanu’s 1971 film Şatra , based on stories by Gorki, and starting with a song that all Romanians can sing no matter what they think of Gypsies (and is if that wasn’t enough, the male “love interest” is an Austro-Hungarian!):


Francis Sedgemore said...

"hatever happened to Gypsy Creams?"

They're now called Travellers' Treats, in line with these politically correct times.

Gyppo Byard said...

One reclaims the pejorative as an empowering something or other, rather as rappers "Niggaz With Attitude" attempted to do. Before someone shot them.

Nice list, btw. You could also add the determindely non-Roma "Gyppo Rose Lee", subject of Sondheim's musical, "Gyppo".

Lulu LaBonne said...

I didn't get that bra Gadj, but I did go through an enduring phase of swishing around in Gyppo Blouses, skirts an earrings. I even got a perm to tie up that whole tousled Gyppo look

Gorilla Bananas said...

As a Romanian who was raised in England, you should teach your countrymen to actually hop during the "hop, hop, hop" lyrics in that gypsy song. All the English tourists would join in immediately.

Kevin Musgrove said...

The old dears who visit the community centre wolfed all the gypsy creams.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Francis: "Travellers' Treats", eh? I want to believe that's true! Or how about "Didikoi Dodgers"?

Gyppo, good point, though "Gyppos with Attitude" sounds rather tautological. (I recently set up a profile for myself on some Internet service under the name "Johnny English", so seems I want to conform to stereotype too - Mr Bean, in my case). Or the song "Gyppos, Slags and Scallies" by Sonny and Cher.

Lulu, I can see you in my mind's eye right now, and a right grand gyppo you look too! Seriously, the get up the use here makes them look seriously atractive.... then they start asking you for money.

Bananas, haaaa, they would, you're right; it would be like the Birdie Song, only a gyppo version! It would be played at all the weddings and I would make a fortune.

Kevin, ah, so that's where they got too. (Though, even with my shakey grasp of economics, this seems to me a reason to produce more of them rather than to stop producing them altogether!)

The Dotterel said...

Oh for the days of 'Out with Romany, by Meadow and Stream' eh? (That's Romany of the BBC, btw!)

The Jules said...

Good tactic, although I don't think Gyppo Rose Lee would've been quite as popular if she turned up to a burlesque show in a transit van and twirled her dreadlocks.

Madame DeFarge said...

Let's not forget the Teletubbies - Po, Lala, Tinky-Winky and Dgypsy. Do you see many large furry things wandering around the countryside saying 'Big hug"?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Dot, I didn't know about this Romany character until now, but he and his programmes sound delightful; though "Romany of the BBC" sounds about curious as e.g. "Seargent Gyppo of the Yard"!

The Jules, a Rasta gypsy is exactly what the world is waiting for: in these jaded times in which we live it may be the one thing that hasn't yet been tried.

Madame, nice orthographical sashay. We do get large furry things wandering around the countryside saying 'Big hug' - they're called "bears".

Alice Scradcza said...

Stoian Valkov is a Bulgarian sculptor who uses a Gypsy motif in much of his artwork. He is also a very fine welder.

No Good Boyo said...

I think Byard wrote a treatment for a Gyppo detective series once. Worth repeating, I say.

I also recall that a minor branch of British Military Intelligence once launched a Rrom into a low orbit in the 1950s, and will try to track down an account.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Ah, I love a bit of Cartesian dualism, me. Especially the dichotomy between the blond rich one with the coat hanger still in his jacket who seems to be called Barry, and the Peter Wyngarde lookalike who looks like he'll hit anything that moves. All very DH Lawrence. I know which one I would have gone for. TISH! (Sorry sat on my tambourine).

Gadjo Dilo said...

Alice dear Alice, thanks for introducting me to Stoian Valkov; my, that's some excellent sculture, somewhere in between Rodin and Brâncuşi and there's no higher praise than that.

Boyo, Byard writes Gyppo detective stories?? With your BBc contacts this could be the new Inspector Morse - I envisage David Essex in the lead role.

Daphers, what an accurate and concise summary you make of the film! It's well worth a watch if you're ever in an art cinema in Chișinău. (Which one would you have gone for, by the way?)

Scarlet-Blue said...

You can still get a Gypsy Bra. Shall I buy one to find out if it is comfy or not? I could do with some retail therapy.

Gyppo Byard said...

I will have to dig out the tattered script of "Django Mullins - Pikey Detective" and post some of it on my own blog.

Every detective has to have a gimmick. His was a capacious mac in which he could conceal various items of evidence, before eating some of them later.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Hi Scarley, yes, please do that! (I also notice that advertised next to the bra is some called, rather disturbingly, "Gossard Gypsy Boyshorts".)

Gyppo, excellent, this is too good to keep to yourself. (Love the eating-the-evidence, but - and I don't want to be a wet blanket here - didn't Columbo already do the capacious mac schtick?)

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Swarthy moustachioed oversexed unemployed gipsy, of course. Every time.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Is the world ready for lacy Gossard Gypsy Boyshorts? I know I'm not!

Gadjo Dilo said...

Daph, good choice, you won't regret it!

Kev, no, I'm not either, and it makes me wonder what perversion they next will offer us.

Gyppo Byard said...

Dapphers - do you ever lower your exacting standards to include swarthy, moustachioed, oversexed employed didacoi?

Just curious. :o{D

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gyp, to be gainfully employed is kinda letting the side down, but we'll wait to see what she says!

Scarlet-Blue said...

Lacy boyshorts are fab!!!!