As fans of hit Channel 4 show Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – and also Gypsy Brides US, which airs on the Discovery Channel – will know, travellers often encounter prejudice when, for instance, they try to book venues for parties or wedding receptions.
In both shows, members of the travelling community frequently bemoan this state of affairs, claiming that it’s unfair and is out and out discrimination. Unwarranted discrimination at that.
However, again in both shows, we’ve seen time and again that while some travellers are entirely peaceable people, many others are not, and unfortunately, the cliché about travellers equating to trouble is all to often true…
Which is of course how clichés come about in the first place; empirical evidence and recidivist behaviours which perpetuate the cliché.
This weekend has sadly proven to be no exception, as the annual Appleby horse fair in Cumbria descended into “chaos” after what’s described as a “mass brawl” broke out, and police were called to deal with not only that, but also an incident involving a firearm…
It seems the havoc began when one traveller was furious to be told he couldn’t take his horse into the River Eden – which is a tradition during the fair – because the river had become dangerously swollen during the recent heavy rain.
An onlooker to the incident told The Sun, “The traveller was so furious that he couldn’t take his horse into the water that he went in instead.”
Thereafter, it seems one fight after another then broke out, and at 11:15pm, armed police responded to several reports of witnesses hearing what were suspected to be gun shots.
Assistance Chief Constable for Cumbria, Michelle Skeer said, “We responded to a suspected firearms incident last night and will remain in the area today to provide reassurance to the public.
“The feedback received this morning has been very positive with the regards to the police responding and dealing with the incident swiftly and professionally.
“We appeal to anyone who as any information to come forward and speak to us.”
The Cumbria Crack website reports that since the morning of Saturday, 24 people have been arrested, primarily on charges of being drunk and disorderly, affray and drink driving.
ACC Skeer added, “As the weekend draws to a close, our focus now turns to ensuring that people can leave Appleby safely.”
So, what I want to ask you is this; are travellers proving that prejudice against them is warranted? Or are travellers no more or no less likely to present a problem than any sectors of society at a large gathering?
Let us know your thoughts, but in the meantime, here’s a clip from series two of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings in which one traveller believes the police are targeting his fellow travellers who are on their way to the horse fair…