I have been to Appleby Horse Fair today with my children and friends. I have never been before, but I have seen photos that my friends have taken in previous years, which you can view here (they are much better than mine). I had no idea what to expect, it was amazing. There were huge numbers of people and horses, it felt a very safe, alive and vibrant place to be. It would have been very easy for me to have lost my children today, but only because there was so much to look at I had to keep remembering to check they were still with me, more often than I would normally.
There were horses being washed in the river.
Horses pulling carts
Horses waiting to be bought and sold
It was a window into a world I know nothing about. Sadly gypsies are marginalised wherever they live in the world. The media is very hostile and negative in its writing about this minority group. I wonder how many journalists have actually spoken to a broad spectrum, or even any of this community. Those people who don't want gypsies living near them, I wonder how many have actually spoken to them, or tried to find out what they are really like as people.
It is all too easy to victimise those that are in the minority, to bully them and to push them out to the margins of society. The media portrayal of minorities whoever they are can be appalling, and feed prejudices that exist often for completely invalid reasons.
Any large gathering of people, as Appleby Horse Fair is, is not without its problems, especially when you add in alcohol. As a gathering which has no official structure the figures for those that attend are estimates. It is all too easy to judge, and suggest why any criminal behaviour occurs, whose to say that it is not opportunists taking advantage of a group of people who are constantly marginalised.
I have come away from the fair knowing a little bit more about the lives of these very interesting people. I had a wonderful time in their presence.