This book, I picked up because it was recommended by Stephen Fry. I was hoping it would give some insight into Romany culture, I was a little disappointed. As the cover suggests it is one of those autobiographies about a miserable childhood. The boy here happens to be a Romany Gypsy born in England, who has the misfortune to be born to a violent father. His father was a bare-knuckle champ in his day and wants little Mikey to follow in his footsteps, but Mikey is not cut out to be a fighter like his dad.
To “train” Mikey his father gives him regular beatings and makes him fight his sister. If the physical abuse wasn’t bad enough, there is Uncle Joseph who sexually abuses young Mikey. This is the story of a wretched childhood. The narrator writes a good story but there is little about Romany culture. There is some detail of the criminal element, shoplifting sprees and the drive tarmacking scams (the sort of detail which would pander to Daily Mail Reader’s prejudices about gypsies). Ironically after telling of all his family’s criminal exploits, Mikey says it is Irish Travellers that give gypsies a bad name…
As Mikey hits his teens he discovers he is gay, in the macho world of the gypsy male this is beyond the pale, he can’t remain true to his nature and stay with his family, so he begins to hatch an escape plan with a Gorgia (non-gypsy) fried, Caleb.
My rating 3 out of 5