final solution

During the Holocaust the Nazi regime killed somewhere between 250,000 and 1,000,000 gypsies1, a greater proportion of the gypsy population than of the Jews.

While the Jewish holocaust brought widespread sympathy (even if muted by Israeli actions now-a-days) and a recognition of the evil of anti-Semitism.   However, prejudice and persecution of gypsies has if anything hardened.   Since the Second World War, nomadic life styles in the UK have been made all but illegal by the banning of camping on common land that was accepted (albeit often reluctantly) in previous centuries.  Legitimate camping has been made ever more difficult as gypsies are usually refused planning permission to buy their own land, and in recent years UK local authorities’ duty to provide at least some official camping places has been relaxed, meaning that in most parts of the country there is no legal place to stop.

The front page of the Sunday Express reports the latest attempt to ‘crackdown’ on the ancient way of life of this people, turning what was until now civil prosecutions into criminal law.  I had thought the Cameron-Clegg coalition we had elected had been between Conservative and Liberal parties, but it seems more like the BNP.

Britain, and we are not alone, is still seeking to finish the work that Hitler started.

  1. Because gypsies were often off record, it is harder to obtain the exact number, hence the wide variation.  For more details, see  “Gypsies in the Holocaust” at the Jewish Virtual Library and Porajmos (the devouring) at Wikipedia[back]


It was my birthday last week.  First thanks to everyone who sent greetings through Facebook etc.  Got some new books to read as well as two new mugs: one that says “exterminate” and one that is becoming my wee dram beaker.

This evening going for a belated birthday dinner at Cèabhar (booked up until tonight!), a lovely restaurant overlooking the Atlantic sunset.

The books …

The Kerracher Man, Eric MacLeod — Just reading this now.  A family who go off to live in a remote scottish croft.

Pilgrims in the Mist: The Stories of Scotland’s Travelling People, Sheila Stewart — Tales once told beneath a bender.

Nella Last’s Peace: The Post-War Diaries Of Housewife 49 — This is the follow-on to Nella Last’s War, which was one of the books on my Rome bookshelf

Calum’s Road, Roger Hutchinson — A couple of years ago we spent Easter on Skye and visited the little island of Raasay.  At the north end a precipitous little road leads round headlands to a small beach.  We had heard that the road had be created over many years by the labours of a single man … Calum.

Welsh Pictures. Drawn with Pen and Pencil, Richard Lovett (editor), London: The Religious Tract Society, 1892 — A beautiful aniqurian book of images and text.

one aim, one business, one desire

My Macintosh has a list of recently accessed files, but when I want to re-visit a file I have used earlier in the day it is never there. I have many folder windows open, but again the folder I was earlier working on is never one of them. This seems a sad measure of not multi-tasking but over-tasking, too many interruptions upon interupptions, too many disparate things and a singular lack of single purpose.

When I was in school we studied the Scholar Gypsy by Matthew Arnold. It is a tale of an Oxford scholar who foresakes his studies and joins the gypsies. As I always admired and desired the gypsy life this combination of the intellectual and nomadic appealed immediately. When Arnold writes it is 200 years since the scholar started his wanderings, but there are still occasional reports of sightings and Arnold concludes that his longevity is the result of his singleness of purpose, he has “one aim, one business, one desire”.

The stanza I still recall almost word perfect comes near the end as Arnold expresses his wish for this simpler life … and remember he is writing in 1850, not the days of email and IM:

O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
And life ran gaily as the sparkling Thames;
Before this strange disease of modern life,
With its sick hurry, its divided aims,
Its heads o’ertax’d, its palsied hearts, was rife