60 days with the gypsies: Ed Stafford urges travelers to consider Cornish locals
Ed Stafford has encouraged travelers to be more respectful of locals after joining a group of gypsies who have taken up residence in a Cornish car park.
In the new documentary, Ed encounters a family of Irish travelers who have a bad reputation for anti-social behavior, after setting up camp in a car park in Newquay town center for a summer by the beach.
It is at the Newquay site that Ed also experiences the cycle of evictions. Having only been there six days, he and the group are forced to leave.
During his stay, Stafford encountered some of the stereotypes typically associated with the community: some groups playing dance music until late, trash, and kids riding around on noisy motorbikes.
As a result, the police threaten bailiffs to arrive, but David, a father of five, knows they currently need a court order. “We want to be treated fairly,” he says.
Ed notes: “I guess one thing that bothers me is that if you don’t want to be bothered by the police you have to think about anti-social behavior, surely a little consideration for the locals makes sense.”
David’s 11-year-old son John Francis, who has already left school and is training as a boxer, says of authorities, “F*** ’em”, as he shows off his brass knuckles.
But Ed later reasoned, “Sometimes what you see is antisocial behavior, but if you corner a dog, it will eventually bite you. They travel in large numbers, not to be intimidating but for the safety of numbers so that they are not targeted. They fear being persecuted.
“John Francis is a good boy, he has a sparkle in his eye. He has charisma. I was initially shocked that he was taken out of school at 11, I wouldn’t do that, but my son is being raised in a very different world.
“John Francis must have a different skill set to stand on his own. Resourcefulness, insight, ability to earn work – they all become much more relevant.
“There is a real positive in the way children like him live. They are outside all the time.
“They bring a lot about themselves, they don’t always play by the rules,” Ed explains, “But society doesn’t make it easy.”
60 Days with the Gypsies continues tomorrow night – Tuesday February 8 – on Channel 4 at 9 p.m.
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