Tom Odley
Kent, England, June 10, 2007

Today's news, in England, highlights the report from the Farmers' Union, that very many thousands of pounds worth of soft fruits, mainly strawberries, may well be left to rot, due to the shortage of available fruit-pickers, despite the fact that very many pickers are coming from foreign countries to do this work?

As most of us will be aware, the Romany, the Gypsy-people of this country, were once deeply involved in this fruit-picking and other harvest work.

For very many Gypsy families the harvesting of fruit, hops, etc., occupied an important place in the Familial calendar, even affecting the setting of our annual horse-fairs and the like.

Fruit picking, apart from providing the means for many Gypsy families to earn an honest crust of bread, with the chance to put a little lova by for dealing or for harder times, afforded opportunities for Nidi Fohki to meet friends and relations that would arrive from other parts of the country to join in the harvesting of fruit.

Among the most important considerations for any Gypsy family contemplating the fruit and hop-picking seasons, was the availability and suitability of atchen-tans/stopping places during the picking.

Most fruit and hop farmers, especially during World War 2 and the early post-wars years, relying/depending so heavily on the speed, skills and hard work of the Gypsy fruit-pickers, for whom this was a way of life, would willingly set aside a small area for the tents, wagons and trailers of the Romani Fohki. At no major expense to themselves, the farmers would organize the provision of water along with the wood for the fires of this transient but reliable work-force of Romani.

Practically all of this work would be done on a "Piece-work" basis rather than on an hourly basis, with the result that; "If you didn't work hard, you earned little or no money!".

However.... subsequent to the arrival of "Peace-time" Britain and the gradual absorption of England and the other countries of the UK into Europe, along with the mass immigration of ex-colonial peoples, the early initiators of the Big-Brother system recognized the perceived threat, to them, of the Nidi Fohki as a result of the Romani tradition of "Independence", as the Gohja saw it, all though, in reality, there has always been a considerable inter-dependence between Rom and Gohja for practical purposes.

The arrival of the early Big Brother movement saw a gradual deterioration in civil freedoms, particular in the enforcement of land-planning controls. Many of these restrictions were aimed directly at the perceived, Gypsy "Freedom of movement", by both local and central government, with variable support from 'ordinary' citizens. Some among us can easily understand the emotions rising within some Gohja mush or housewife, locked in a hum-drum lifestyle and frustrated by their circumstances, happening to witness the passing of some "Gypsy" family lot, the Romani transients apparently "Laughing at Life"?

The envy, the jealousy that arose, therefrom, within many a Gohja onlooker, must have been nigh on explosive? "Bloody Gyppos!", why should THEY be allowed to live like that?

The overall tightening of planning laws along with the covert aim of "Big Brother" (via The Powers that Be.), to remove or severely restrict the individuality of the Gypsy, resulted in considerable pressures being put on farmers to deny or curtail the availability of stopping places to the Gypsy work-force that would have, in the past, played an important part in the harvesting of fruit and other crops, as well as availing labour for other farm-work such as beet-hoeing, hop-dressing, hop-training, hop-stringing, ditch-clearing and hedge-brishing, etc. Though a fair number of farmers, being almost totally dependant on their own Gypsy-work-force families, did their best to evade or ignore the "Anti-Gypsy planning laws", the end result was, eventually, a serious shortage of available harvest labour.

Farmers did their best to make up for this labour-shortage by way of mechanization, this proved fairly successful with some crops, such as hops, but entirely unsatisfactory with delicate crops, such as strawberries, apples, pears and the like.

With the opening up of the vast labour-force of Europe, the potential was there to satisfy fruit-farming requirements, but, as has been demonstrated and now acknowledged by the National Farmers Union on today's TV., the potential has NOT been fulfilled?

As I've said:

"What goes around, comes around?"

Amare Devel amensa!

Tom O

The Lord Ramh said:

"And the greatest of these, my gifts, is Understanding!"

© O Tom Odley, June 2007