Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Burning Tradition

Roger Noons

a cup of strong tea with just a drop of whisky

 ‘Edwin want’s to see you my Roger.’
    ‘Edwin Davies?’
    Rosie nodded and returned to weaving the rope.
    ‘Any idea what for, Rose?’
    The Warden of the Travellers Site shook her head, just once. ‘Course, old Mrs Davies has passed away.’
    ‘His mother?’
    Rosie Watton nodded again. Although she’d held her post for more than five years and I’d visited her on numerous occasions, despite the manner in which she addressed me, I was a Gorgy and hence there was a formality between us; a relationship akin to dentist and patient. 
    ‘I’ll go and see him.’
It was a fortnight later when I again drove along the lane towards the Site. I was held up following a low loader on which there was the tattiest caravan I’d ever seen. It pulled in through the gateway and passed the Warden’s Store. I parked up and went in to see Rosie.
    ‘Who’s just brought in that van?’
    Again the familiar shake of the grey-haired head as Rosie scurried away to put the kettle on the stove. ‘You‘ll have a cup of tea, my Roger?’
    ‘Thanks Rose, but only tea, thank you. I’ve to drive back to the office for a meeting.’ Rosie’s tea was often more Johnnie Walker than Tetley’s.
Having concluded my business with Rose, I walked along to where two men had just released the caravan from it’s ties and were arranging it centrally on the concrete pad which constituted Plot 12. As I watched the low loader was driven away. Edwin Davies appeared from his mobile home on Plot 10.
    ‘All right Boss?’
    ‘Not bad Edwin, yourself?’
    ‘You remember I had a word about …’
    ‘Edwin you said you wanted to carry out the old tradition of burning your mother‘s caravan following her death.’
    ‘Aye and you said okay as long as we did it after your office closed for the day.’
    ‘This is not your mother’s former home.’ His face began it’s beetroot imitation and he shrugged. ‘You told me the tradition was to set fire to the van and its contents to prevent the children falling out of who got what.’
    Hands in his pockets, Edwin concentrated on kicking loose stones, unprepared to look at me and respond.
    Where’s your mother’s van, Edwin?’ I leant towards him so that I heard a muttered ‘sold it.’
    ‘You know you have to give up the plot?’
    He nodded.
    ‘If there’s anything on this site next Monday, I’ll charge you a month’s rent.’
    ‘Don’t worry Boss, it’ll be sorted.’
    I shook my head as I walked away. So much for Romany traditions.

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