I thought to ask Sandy Jones-friend to Frankie Fulwood in The Gypsy Way-to write me a guest post on how she got involved with him and how she experiences the friendship.
What is her take on the division in British society between settlers and travellers? That sort of stuff. I wanted her to have her say and see what I got!
Hello, I’m Sarah Jones, long suffering friend of Frankie Fulwood and lady of the manor in ‘The Gypsy Way’ novels. People call me Sandy, it’s a nickname I acquired at school because of my hair. The other girls used to call me ‘ginger’ and I used to say ‘no it’s not, it’s sandy!’ I live here in the middle of England on the farm that has been my family’s home for several generations. I have been invited to answer a couple of questions –
How did I get involved with Frankie Fulwood and Jenny O’Connor?
This one is easy and yet complicated. I remember when I was a little girl, before I went away to school, the seasonal workers arriving here to help on the farm. I remember pressing my face against the glass in the kitchen window as my cousins shouted ‘the Gypsies are coming!’ we used to be so excited but my grandmother wouldn’t let us outside until all the vehicles had stopped moving and the caravans had been set up. They were happy days of sunshine and fun playing with all the children that arrived with the colorful caravans.
Time moved on and my grandparents passed away, I got married and my mother watched my daughter while I ran the farm – my husband was never there, he was a dentist not a farmer. The farm was very different then, new crops, new machines, and no need for seasonal workers. I did the rounds of the village fetes and women’s guild meetings, hosted the Young Farmers, all the things people expected of me. Then my mother passed away, my father retired, my daughter went to boarding school and I felt so alone in my big old house. Then one day things changed, the owners of the grange, a few miles from me, sold a dilapidated cottage in its own small plot. The new owner moved on the land in a small caravan and set the village gossips tongues wagging – handsome, charming and allegedly dangerous! One day he called at my house looking for odd jobs and trying to sell me some point of lay pullets. I recognized him as one of my childhood friends from the colourful caravans and we started up where we left off. As for Jenny, what can I say about her without spoiling the stories for you? Let’s just say they come as a package, a team, if one of them is i trouble the other is there to get them out of it. And over the years they have both been there for me several times.
What is my take on the division in British society between settlers and travellers?
A big question, I suppose I am one of the most settled of settled people, I was born in this house and so was my father and his father –surrounded by a thousand acres of fertile land. So I suppose my life and views are different from those of people in town and cities, for me travelling people are an important part of my past, they were the much needed labour that arrived with good cheer and turned my summers into something magical. I know that is an idealistic view and only applies to the few people I met and even they are viewed through the rose tinted lens of nostalgia.
But I know they are people whose lives have often been at odds with those of the people in towns and cities. Even out here in the sticks if anything goes wrong or missing fingers usually point at ‘those Gypsies’ and I’m sure there are a few rogues amongst them just like in any community. The usual complains are ‘they don’t pay council tax!’ but I’m sure the ones who have houses do, and the ones that don’t, don’t actually receive any of the services it pays for. ‘They haven’t got planning permission’ is another ‘old chestnut’ but neither has my house, in fact no house built before a certain date (was it 1959?) has. I think that if the race relations laws had come before the planning laws things might be very different. My personal view is that I take everyone as they come, I try not to pre-judge, it’s a view that has been serving us well here on the farm for almost 200 years.
Thanks for reading – now you know a little about me, why not find out more by reading the books?
The Gypsy Way
Stories peppered with comedy and romance, with more than their fair share of passion, punch-ups, and rock ‘n’ roll, this is Gypsy life in rural England in the mid-1980s. And there isn’t a crystal ball or fortune-teller in sight!
The Gypsy Way – Part Three: Don’t Look Down – will be available soon!
And you can also find me on Twitter @sandysarahjones.
Thanks Sandy for coming out of the book and showing yourself as a character with a mind of her own. I know the Big Fat Gypsy programs are immensely popular at the moment, but how do you the reader of this and hopefully the books, interact with travellers, if you do at all?
By the by, having one of the characters from Running in Corridors is a special occasion for me, I loved reading the first book, you can find my review on it here. But there is more to come! Frankie and Jenny will make an appearance too this coming week.