Letter: Travellers: once a farmer's friend, now a New Age enemy to the land

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The Independent Online
Sir: In the old days, when we had fewer farming implements, most farmers, including myself, welcomed the travellers or gypsies who came regularly to help with sowing, weeding and cutting. I had a corner ready for them and often visited and sometimes helped, especially when there were children or a pregnant mother. Sometimes they, or one of them, came over to the house. One of them turned out to be a keen reader and I lent them books to take on their travelling time; these always came back with an extra paper cover to keep the rain off.

They had a reasonably friendly relationship with the small farmers and fishermen, though some were angry when one of the traveller families put in for a house. I helped them to get it, and advised them on how to go about their new life, especially to put up curtains until they had enough furniture to show people that they were not savages.

There are very few gypsy travellers on the roads now. Many have houses. Their children go to school. Of course, there are some singles or families who are dirty and rough to their children. They are still thought of as the bottom layer. There are few real travellers, but I remember them with affection, and often admiration of their courage. I have forgotten the special words they used, but if one came back I believe I might remember and give the friendly

welcome.

Yours faithfully,

NAOMI MITCHISON

Carradale, Argyll

24 July

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