Keep movin’ - a poem by Raine Geohegan

24 April 2019
Raine Geohegan - Keep movin'

Keep movin' by Raine Geohegan

The last weekend in May, a Friday, we pulled up on the poove. We got the fire goin’ and washed the little chavvies ready for bed. Our Ria and me were drinking mesci when our Sammy shouted. ‘Dick-eye the gavvers are comin’.’ All the malts came out of the vados and we stood there. We ‘ad to ‘old the men back as the gavvers started to wreck the site. One of ‘em kicked the kittle off the yog. He shouted. ‘Pack up and get going, you’re not welcome ‘ere.’ I ‘ad to ‘old my Alfie back, ‘e don’t lose ‘is temper much but when ‘e does, watch out, like that time he snoped a guerro in the yock outside the beer shop an ended up in the cells for a night. It rained ‘ard, we got drenched as we packed up all our covels. The chavvies were cryin’, the men swearin’ under their breath knowin’ if they said anythin’ they’d get carted off. Our Tilda was moaning about not gettin’ sushi stew. Us malts started to sing,   

           ‘I’m a Romani Rai, a true didikai,

           I build all my castles beneath the blue sky.

           I live in a tent, I don’t pay no rent

           an’ that’s why they call me a Romani Rai.

As the men untied the ‘orses, me and Ria cleared up the rubbish. I ‘eard the gavver say, ‘bleedin gypos’. My Alfie called out, ‘the gavvers are grunts, let’s jel on, keep movin’. 

We kept movin’ but sometimes we stayed put for a while, like when we was ‘op pickin’ or pea pickin’.

          ‘I’m a Romani Rom, I travel the drom.

          I hawk all the day and I dance through the night.

          I’ll never grow rich, I was born in a ditch

          and that’s why they call me a Romani Rai.’   

All together in the poove

the best of times.

Thank the blessed lord.


Poove – field;  Chavvies – children;  Mesci - tea;  Vados – wagons;  Dick-eye - look there; Gavvers – policeman;  Malts – women; Yog – fire;  Snoped – hit;  Covels – belongings;  Sushi – rabbit;  Didikai - half Romany & half Gorjio;  Rai - a rough and ready person; Drom – road;  Grunts – pigs;  Jel on - let’s go.

This poem is republished  from the booklet Apple Water: Povel Panni, which was launched last December in Covent Garden, with the kind permission of author Raine Geohegan.

(Main photo by John Russell)