LETTERS FROM LONDON
2. JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS:
In a kingdom not very far away, peasants live in caravans apart from most of
the other peasants, keeping themselves to themselves. They live in the green
land of shamrocks and fairies. These tribes move from place to place and are
called travellers or gypsies, following many strict customs of conduct which are
never broken.

Curiously all little girls spend their waking moments dreaming of their big
fairytale wedding day, which takes place when they are quite young.
Embellished carriages pulled by bedecked horses and decorated glass
pumpkins are part of the dream.

Competition is encouraged for the heaviest, most excessively enormous
bespoke white satin, lacy, ruffled, appliquéd, hoop-skirted, wedding dress. The
little girls live for that day when they will have to be shoved into the coach or
carriage and assisted down the aisle. They rehearse when they make their first
holy communion and don a pink or white version of this confection replete with
a tiara.

In the green land, children can barely read or write when they stop their
education at eleven so that girls can take over the care of their many siblings
and the boys can drink. The boys are taught to fight each other, but not to the
death.

Boys like to have decorative hairstyles, often having very short hair with several
strands curling down their necks called mullets. Girls wear high heels, makeup,
loads of jewellery, have fake tans and dress up in and do terribly overtly sexual
tribal dances. Why they do this is not clear.

Boys and girls are kept separate. Courtship lasts a week and it may include the
mating ritual, ‘grabbing’, when a boy tries to kiss a girl against her will by
hurting her: hair pulling, arm twisting, grabbing.

The day after they marry the boys they barely know, girls enter a world of
increased servitude. Husbands keep them on a tight rein, but not usually
literally. The wives must cook as well as clean day and night to maintain a
perfectly spotless caravan. They must pamper their husbands who now own
them as they would a horse, but they aren’t traded although they can be beaten
if the caravan floor is not immaculate.

The other peasants in the land are fascinated by these tribes, but they don’t like
them and usually run them out of the town. Perhaps it’s because travellers are
very clever and accomplished at tarmacking trickery.

The fairy godmother never appears with her magic wand in her oversized
wedding dress. The prince never arrives on a white steed that has been traded.
But the men and boys live happily ever after in their gleaming caravans.


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REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
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