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28 October 2014

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A Rom down under
Gypsy Horse.

Bob Lovell is a regular contributor to our Romany Roots message boards.

Here he tells his story.

Bob Lovell doing a folk gig


My name is Robert Ridgley Lovell I was born in New Plymouth, New Zealand. My father Adolphus came to the port of New Plymouth in the latter years of WW2. He served in the British Merchant Marine doing his bit alongside Gorgor (non-Rom) folk as many Romani chals (men) did during wartime.

My father met my mother in 1947 and he decided to jump ship to marry her and settle in New Zealand. My mother's family was a large one and my grandparent's hid dad for six months on a farm. Father gave himself up in an amnesty and after serving six months in stiriphen (goal) was allowed to stay.

My mother's folks were of Scottish/traveller descent and my Grandfather Smoky Bill and Grandmother Pearl had 10 children. As was common in those days most of them lived in the one house, including my parents, me and my brothers and sisters. There was always a lot of get togethers and much singing, music and dancing.

Where Bob was born.
Taranaki, where Bob was born

My childhood days were wonderful, as we spent much time working on farms. Haymaking was hard and draft horses were still used for the heavy work. Dad looked after the grai (horses) as he was an expert in their handling.

I was slow to learn reading and writing and only liked art and nature study. I remember one time we got a new lady teacher; she had just arrived from the UK. Well one day she said to me to go up to the blackboard and spell out a word. I couldn't spell it and the other kid's were laughing, the teacher made me sit down again and as I passed her she said ever so quietly, silly gypo!

I'd never heard gypo before so that night I asked father what it was. Well he jumped up from his chair shouting who said that to you boyo. The next morning he was down to the school and that teacher never called me names again.

Bob's story continues »


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