I’ve been encountering a lot of Travellers (See also Gypsies and Romini people) on the road and encamped on every available (and unavailable) spot beside the roads! They are on their way to the Appleby Horse Fair which customarily starts on the first Thursday in June and ends on the second Wednesday in June. When I passed through on Monday morning Alston had ponies tied to lamp posts, their rear ends stuck out into the road. Two officers of the law were walking purposefully towards the clutch of caravans, trucks, lorries loaded with painted caravans and sundry other vehicles. They were all crammed onto a tiny spot of land beside the road on the edge of the town. I must say I delighted in the general mill of activity, and the basic anarchy that emanates from Travellers activity. I think the police are fairly tolerant of them unless there is out and out crime going on. Just outside of Alston more encampments, ponies turned out into farmers fields, permission or no as I understand the situation. Is it a crime to feed ponies that have been trotting for 20 miles, they need their grass? (Paraphrased from the local newspaper reporting on the Travellers excesses or more to the point the farmers indignation.) Then descending Hartside Pass in the brilliant summer sunshine two carts – one a ‘rag and bone’ painted beautifully the other a simple pony cart. The ponies swinging along at a brisk trot, full of the joy of the open road, wind under the tail and feathery legs flying. What a sight! There’s that welling up of emotion out of seeming nowhere again. I’ll have to get to the bottom of that.
And now to what I intended to write about. Celebrity and notoriety. Yes, celebrity and how a swift turn of events, combined with human frailty, can transform over night into notoriety. This is the stuff of entertainment. The rise and fall of celebrity. We love the rags to riches stories, the Cinders WILL go to the ball stories. Now we have the story of Susan Boyle. It will, no doubt, be an ongoing one. Where will we be in that story? What of our own story?