At the local swimming pool as I arrive in the car and pull up to let the girls out two boys knock on the door. They follow the car and when I get out expressionless they ask for fifty pence to go swimming.
The Roma have been moving to this area for a few years now. They are highly visible, they move in large groups and there are various somethings that distinguish them from other groups here.
One thing is that the children will, at times, directly ask for money. There is no ‘side’ to this, the request can be at times insistent but no more. Like today it is almost expressionless.
Some children have come down our road either going through the bins with an adult or at other times tasking things left in the front gardens, kids bikes were taken from our house. We got then back though because people on the street had noticed them, they are visible and a sense of predictability comes with then too. They are, it is assumed, going to take things.
It is as if there were a group of people living amongst us who are coming out from the forest. Today it felt like we were the pastoralists and they hunter gatherers.
However to the hunter gatherers aren’t they ‘other’ too? Are they every ones other? A shared category, one that aides integration by being so much the ‘other’?