Friday, October 12, 2012

No Gypsies Served by Miriam Wakerly

No Gypsies Served
by Miriam Wakerly

No Gypsies Served is the sequel and prequel to Gypsies Stop tHere but both books standalone. You could read either one first.
Two years have passed since Kay successfully campaigned for the Appley Green Gypsy Site, and four years since her husband was murdered. Life in the village was going so well, until the phone call and letter. Then comes the disastrous site opening. Worst of all, Dunstan, whom she realizes is her best friend and ally, is giving her the cold shoulder for some unknown reason.
Dunstan is taking an emotional trip down memory lane, into childhood as a Gypsy on the road, and his eventual break from his people. Why is he so angry with Kay that he keeps away from her? Chances of a longed for reconciliation look slim ...

Kay had tried to dismiss from her mind the intimidating phone call from Billy, Gary’s brother. As the days passed without her hearing more from him, its impact on her was ebbing as the memory faded. The letter coming as it did from a quite different, albeit unknown, source was more difficult to suppress. Its creator must be out there somewhere, possibly close by in the village and if he, or she, were to reveal an identity it was likely to be today, Saturday, to coincide deliberately with the arrival of the group of Gypsies. She acknowledged that she must be prepared for some kind of encounter. It could even be someone she knew! She sensed that she was no stranger to him – or her.
Early on Saturday morning Kay felt cheered by a phone call from Suzi, her younger daughter who lived and worked in London. “Frantic week. So busy, you wouldn't believe.”
“But going well? Glad you made the change?”
It was about a year since Suzi had stepped down from the heady, ambitious world of fashion photography to simple, straightforward weddings, family and school portraits, babies and pets. Once disdainful of such prosaic products as decorative mugs, tea-towels and ‘Cakes with a Face’, she now voraciously sought out mundane but commercial money-spinners. Her own boss, she made her own choices and decisions and was reveling in it.
“Mum, more and more as it goes on. Even with the recession, I mean – well, market forces and all that, I just drop my prices and do deals. Have to work harder but I get the commissions and bookings … Best thing I've ever done. Love it.”  Just like Gypsies have to adjust, reflected Kay as she listened to Suzi effervesce, to move with the market, past masters at evolving to suit seasonal, geographical and economic changes. Opportunists prosper best, willing to turn their hand, chameleon-like, to something different if needs must. The principle is probably the same the world over. She remembered reading a saying by a Scots Tinker;  If you took a Traveler and set him in the middle of the desert he would find a living there. He would even sell that sand to the Egyptians.
“Good, good, good! I’m happy for you, darling, and your father would've been so proud of you.” She felt a lump in her throat as she said this. Suzi had shown guts to go it alone, climbing a precipitous learning curve from which she could have tumbled into further ruin so easily. She’d had a desperate time as commissions dwindled to a trickle, and advertising agencies shut up shop, leaving no option but to abandon her glitzy dream of fashion photography. Since then, Suzi had steadied her nerve and turned her life around. Some would say the safe option is to stick to what you know best, but in such a situation they could well be wrong, thought Kay.
“So what’s on this weekend, then?” asked Kay. Suzi must have forgotten it was the opening day for the Gypsy site. But then neither of her daughters had ever understood why she had become so involved in campaigning for it. And would Marcus have been proud of her, if he had been here at her side today?

By Nikki Bywater
No Gypsies Served is set two years after the story of Gypsies Stop tHere. Kay is now settled living in the village of Appley Green and she has made lots of friends. One of the people she has become particularly close to is Dunstan. Kay first met Dunstan when she employed him to help out with her gardening. Kay and Dunstan had ended up spending a lot of time together and become really good friends. Dunstan suddenly becomes distant towards Kay and she cannot understand why and Kay really needs her friends right now, she has been receiving threatening letters and a phone call that is of great worry for her. Then when the grand opening of the Appley Green Gypsy site that Kay had successfully campaigned for, does not go to plan and there are problems, where is Dunstan when she needs him?
Dunstan is busy writing about his past. Dustan's childhood was spent as a Gypsy. Dunstan had eventually broken away from his family and his Gypsy upbringing. But he still feels pulled back to his traditional roots. Writing his memoirs bring back some emotional memories. But what is keeping him away from Kay?
No Gypsies Served is another wonderful read by Miriam Wakerly. Although this book is a sequel to Gypsies Stop tHere, this story can be read without reading the first book. I really recommend reading them both though because they are both excellently written and great stories. I just found myself really involved in the story and I have become really fond and care a lot about the character of Kay. All too often in literature Gypsies are presented almost as fairy tale sort of characters, very stereotypical and clich├ęd. In Miriam Wakerly books she really portrays Gypsies and Travelling people as individual characters and you get a more real life account of what life is really like living in these communities. It is what makes Miriam Wakerly books well worth reading.
I am looking forward to returning to Appley Green in Miriam Wakerly's novel Shades of Appley Green.

From the Author
Not a lot of people know this, but while writing Shades of Appley Green, I was also working on an autobiography of a Romany Gypsy man. It was almost complete when circumstances regarding his private life meant I could not go ahead and publish. Maybe one day I will tell the full story but not here, not now. It was a tragic disappointment.
Here is one of the many photos I would have used in this autobiography, that illustrates the ‘bender’, a Gypsy tent that figures in No Gypsies Served. The character, Dunstan, and his brother Presley had to sleep in one of these makeshift shelters at a time when very few Gypsies would have still been using them. You will have to read the book to find out why! It was taken in the New Forest in the late 19th century.

About the Author
Miriam Wakerly has published many articles and short stories in magazines. Her debut book Gypsies Stop tHere was published in 2008. No Gypsies Served is Miriam's second novel, published March 2010. Shades of Appley Green is an unrelated novel set in the same town. It was published in January 2012. Miriam has a BA Degree in Combined Studies (English, French, Sociology and Politics)from Leicester University and is a member of the Society of Authors. A non-Gypsy herself, Miriam has studied and gives talks on the subject. Miriam was on the BBC Oxford radio series, "The Write Lines", in November 2009.