The Girl in the Painted Caravan
Eva Petulengro was born into the last generation of Romanies who lived the travelling life in painted wooden caravans. She reveals in this intimate biography her childhood memories of roaming through the countryside of Norfolk and the Lincolnshire fens. Instead of schooling, the girls joined the women reading palms, and the boys tended the horses from which they made a living. Evenings were spent around the camp fire singing songs and telling stories. Eva, an enquiring and intelligent child, taught herself to read and write but always regretted her semi-illiteracy.
Life began to change. By 1960 travelling, even in the winter months, had become untenable and they moved to Brighton and set themselves up as palmists. Eva finally lived in a house and slept in a bed she did not have to fold away each morning.
The Girl in the Painted Caravan is a fascinating story which captures a way of life that has largely gone with the advent of the motor car and increasing hostility. Hard at times, but the large extended family was always there to help. Those gypsies’ clothes pegs I still keep as a souvenir from my own childhood now tell their own tale.