Sunday, 10 June 2007
Scottish Interest Books - Tears for a Tinker
In the first two books of her autibiography, Jessie's Journey and Tales from the Tent, Jess Smith told the story of her wandering years on the road with the last of Scotland's travellers, hawkers and gypsies. This third volume in the trilogy is Jess's at-times painful farewell to the travelling lifestyle which she loved.
Settling down to 'scaldy' (non-traveller) existence - marriage, kids and domesticity in a small council house - was never going to be easy for her. But though there were some tears, laughter is never far away. We move from a story of the car with no floor to a medical emergency, from the tall tales of her husband Dave's duck-hunt to his seafaring experiences, and from a chilling seance to a startling experiment with peroxide hair-colouring. There are more memories of Jess's early years on the road with her family in the old, blue bus.
Through it all are scattered wondeful gems from Jess's treasury of traditional tales - what the Loch Ness Monster really is, the strange fate of Blind Harry, and the ominous appearances of shapeshifters and werewolves. Handing on the tales told to her as she grew up, Jess reminds us that though most travellers have gone from the roads, their approach to life, understanding of nature and precious cultural legacy lives on, no matter how times may change.