Cat no. 224

Outlook: Gypsy Interviews

Running time5:45 Colour Sound 1962 Emneth, Norfolk

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John Seymour joins a group of Wisbech gypsies to experience their daily lives and traditions.



Part of a BBC East Outlook programme entitled `Midwinter'. Interviewer John Seymour joins gypsies, camped by an orchard at Emneth on the outskirts of Wisbech, to talk about their lifestyle and values. He interviews people of different gender and age groups to discover details about their domestic life and how they manage in the winter. Mrs. Murkin is a young mother with four children. She is interviewed looking over the stable door of her caravan with two of her children. Mrs. Murkin describes her life as managing. She emphasises that you can always keep warm. She hasn't always lived in a caravan and would prefer to live in a house, especially in the winter. In particular she values running water, explaining that at the camp they have to go half a mile up the road to fetch water.

The film cuts away to show general scenes of the camp. Another of Mrs. Murkin's children is playing with broken pram wheels. The caravan tyres are flat. There are vans around that appear broken down and abandoned and rubbish accumulating in the hedge, including a rusting bicycle. There are also dogs running around. Later, we see some chickens.

John Seymour asks Mrs. Murkin about her children's future. Will they always live in a caravan? They say they will, she replies, presumably referring to her husband's family. She would prefer them to live in a house. At the time of the interview, most of Mrs. Murkin's family was out at work, lifting carrots. Not all the residents of the camp are as negative about travelling as Mrs. Murkin. Bob Lamb has always been a traveller and has always travelled by horse drawn caravan. He tells about his life travelling and about how he makes a living. Most of this is agricultural work, lifting sugar beet and potatoes in the winter, although he stresses that he takes anything that comes along. He also sells from door to door. As he returns to the same areas people know him and he doesn't experience any hostility. Mr. Smith, who is not from East Anglia, remembers the winter of 1947 and the problems for the travellers. He is holding a white horse and shows the inside of his caravan.

The elderly Mrs. Smith explains some of the details of domestic life such as keeping warm, cooking and doing the laundry. She is quite indignant when the interviewer suggests that she doesn't have an oven. She is adamant that she will never live in a house, preferring her caravan. At the end of the film John Seymour joins the gypsies around the fire, playing an accordion.

Background Information:

Also included in the programme was a fishing expedition with Downtide West of Sheringham

Featured People:

Bob Lamb; Mrs Murkin; Mrs Smith

BBC East

Malcolm Freegard

John Seymour (reporter)

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