The term ‘Pikey’ or ‘Pikie’ is an ethnic slur used within common London speech to describe Travellers of Irish decent. It apparently refers to a low-class person who is believed to be a product of in-breeding’. The Sutton and Cheam area has been visited lately by a group of Travellers that have broken into private property, lived their there for a short time, and then been moved on by the police. They leave piles of rubbish behind and tend to destroy the areas they occupy. The Travellers interact through violence and aggression with any community they move into, primarily due to the fact that their children are born in their caravans, do not attend State School, receive no Welfare State care or have access to the NHS. Their standard of formal education is low, but they know how to survive on their wits. Sometimes the adults work in fairgrounds or operate various attractions in amusement parks. They pursue a nomadic existence that is experienced by the non-Traveller to be ignorant, dirty and violent, but of course, this is not how the Travellers view themselves. As the Traveller and non-Traveller communities do not historically ‘get on’, it is very difficult for individuals from both communities to interact in a different manner. As a result, the presence of ‘Pikies’ in Southwest London has united the settled population in a display of solidarity not seen since Hitler’s V-! terror bombs targeted the area during WWII! This shared experience has been cemented by stories of 4-year-old Pikie children spitting water at locals, urinating in public, stealing dogs, and chasing the members of the local population – screaming from North Cheam Sainsburys! I was stood in the Sainsburys (North Cheam) Carpark around 1300hrs on Wednesday the 25th of July, 2018, waiting for my partner and two children to finish their shopping. I was uploading pictures to my Instagram account when I was approached by a rotund 12-year-old Traveller with four other small male children in tow. He said ‘if you look at this’ – he placed one of his hands by his groin – ‘then I will punch you with this hand!’. He then tried to punch me on the chin – but failed because his was too short and could not reach (even on tip-toe). I carried on posting and reminded him that he was being filmed – pointing to one of the nearby surveillance cameras. He was genuinely surprised at this response because an intended victim of his did not act with the usual fear. The other children said and did nothing, as they headed into the Sainsburys Store – with this young thug still leading them even after a practical failure of his disruptive leadership skills! This young boy spoke with a clear Southern Irish accent and is a disgrace to his own ethnicity. The point is to somehow ‘disrupt’ their tried and tested means of psychologically and physically disrupting the general population at the point of contact. These children think they can get away with this violence because if an adult responds (they are taught), the police will arrest the adult (quite true), or the Pikie adults will hunt down those concerned and give them a beating.
My personal view is that the non-Travelling society needs to engage these Travelling communities at a governmental level, and these peope need to be helped out of the morass of ignorance they are in. Although they are responsible for their actions, the settled community has done much to make them like this. Having highlighted a negative experience I have had with Irish Travellers, I am willing to think that not all Travellers are like this, and that there is scope for dialogue and change. On the other hand, our settled community is full of racism and discrimination toward anyone (and anything) the White midde class does not like. I would call upon the progressive elements within the Traveller communities to form committees and reach-out to Socialist and Communist groups in the UK and beyond. Capitalism will not save you from historical oblivion – indeed, the reactionary elements in the settled community are banking on this fact! In my youth, my parents were very good friends with Irish Travellers called ‘Didicoy’ – due to their mixed ethnicity backgrounds.