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??
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.
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.
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!):