by Anne Forrest
You never tire of talking about your Gypsy blood. So proud. As if it were Royal. You’re nearly ninety yet look as if you've seen only seventy-five summers; you put this down to life in the open air, natural food from the hedgerows; a care-free life roaming and overseeing your own destination. A good man; you always said Grampy was a good man. You said you were painted by a famous artist sitting on your caravan steps in a red skirt with a pipe in your mouth – when you were about eighteen, you said. You said Grampy was a ‘high Romany’, not a common one. You loved your life and wouldn’t change it for all the tea in China, you said.
When I call, you spread a chenille cloth on the table, get out willow basket and display your velvet and lace and pegs to show how you earned your living. You demonstrate how you wound crepe paper flowers around a wire thread; bunched the heather with ribbon. You always say your white, netty curtains were knitted by spiders, and I always pretend to believe you. You read tea-leaves at the bottom of my cup ignoring the delicate images in the bowl; choosing your words carefully.
I love it when I can persuade you to bring out the lamp, choking and spitting under the fluted rim, cross that it’s been disturbed. After all this time. You present it as if it were the Crown Jewels.
When it acquiesces, the wick settles, glows; resigning its gypsy-blood blaze to light up your council-flat walls.
About the author:
Anne Forrest lives in the Conwy Valley, she is studying for a Masters at Chester University ‘Writing and Publishing Fiction’ 2019-2020, after gaining a First Class Hons at Bangor Uni: MArts in ‘English Literature with Creative Writing’. Her common-folk biography, My Whole World, Penmaenmawr (in 2nd print) was published by Old Bakehouse Publications, Abertillery, in 2000. Her Gothic novel, Lilies if the Valley made the strong longlist in the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Award 2019. She wrote a series of ‘Timothy Crumble’ stories, set in the NT’s Bodnant Garden ‘to educate and entertain children’.
Visit her website at anneforrestwriter.weebly.com