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Gypsy Joe by Joe Smith

The mental age of the average adult Gypsy is thought to be about that of a child of ten. Gypsies have never accomplished anything of great significance in writing, painting, musical composition, science or social organisation. Quarrelsome, quick to anger or laughter, they are unthinkingly but not deliberately cruel. Loving bright colours, they are ostentatious and boastful, but lack bravery.’  Encyclopaedia Britannica 1954


Joe Smith was born in West London in 1971 into a gypsy family. His formative years were spent travelling around England in a caravan while his father dealt in scrap metal and his mother sold lucky heather. Times were hard but Joe relished the outdoor life and soaked up his Romany culture, family history and the characters surrounding him.


One such character was his grandfather Rymer, who had graduated from nightly punishing bouts in the fairground boxing booths of Britain to fighting professionally at a high level. Joe was never happier than when sitting with the adults around a campfire as they told stories from the past about boxing, hop-picking, horse fairs, and the rich and colourful relatives from generations of Smiths. Little did he know it, but he was absorbing the memories of the last generation of gypsies in Britain to live the true Romany lifestyle.


Gypsy Joe is the account of a young man determined to realise his dreams, and in this uplifting book Joe examines how the gypsy lifestyle of roaming the country and living off the land, free from pin numbers and P45s, barcodes and peeping surveillance, flies in the face of modern government, while at the same time giving an honest view on the prejudices that exist between gypsies and non-gypsies.

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