“Let’s go out calling” – read by Jake Bowers & written by Dee Cooper

7 June 2023

Calling was how most men earned a day’s money. Nowadays the streets are harder to work. People are faced with discrimination daily. Horses have been replaced with motors.  Fuel has gone up and hawking the streets is banned in a lot of places. The old ways are changing and we cling to our way of life our heritage. We are proud of who we are, where we’ve come from, and memories like this will be handed down.  

Jake Bowers and I have been friends for many years. We’ve worked both separately and collectively to try and end stigma and stereotyping for over 25 years. Including going head-to-head with the Firecracker TV production team (who made ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings' for CH4) and appearing on ITV's Daybreak, where we spoke openly about the bullying that has and still is happening to our young people in schools. We always talk about, the love, pride, and traditions of our culture, that never waver.

We recently had a conversation, which lead us to talk about our own childhoods. Fairs we’ve attended with our families, our love of horses, how money was earned back then, and how life seemed simpler, even though there was less. 

Dolly Arts

As the years have progressed, more and more has been taken away from our communities. “Let’s go out calling” was something said in many homes up and down the country over the years, and as children it was exciting to go out to work with an elder and learn how to earn a pound note.

Horses have always been a part of most family’s lives over the years, whether for working the streets ‘calling’ trotting, horse fairs and dealing or teaching the young ones to ride or even having a bet at the Derby and they continue to do so today.

Dolly Arts

Appleby Fair is a scene we are all familiar with and even if you don’t attend, everyone one gets pleasure from seeing photos and footage of the horses, being washed in the ‘River Eden’ it’s a way we can all connect. Something that was first documented in 1685. Horses have been reflected in artwork in our communities for years.

 Jake Bowers recently started a campaign group with a Romany woman Sherrie Smith called Drive 2 Survive which first campaigned against the Police Bill but is now a wider campaign for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller cultural visibility and survival.

Jake's draft for Commissioned piece for the South Downs.
Jake's draft for commissioned sculpture for the South Downs

He said: "Anybody who has travelled or worked with horses will feel the bittersweet truth of this poem. Horses remain close to all our hearts and are treated like valued family members, so their contribution and passing is always deeply felt. They are also a powerful symbol of a threatened freedom that each generation must fight for."

Jakes work as an artist blacksmith has recently resulted in him being commissioned to forge a life size Gypsy cob like Jasper which will be prominently placed on an old Romany stopping place in the South Downs.

Priscilla Bower -Jake's sister with Horse Winnie - who has been the model for Jake's inspired piece
Priscilla Bower -Jake's sister with Horse Winnie - who has been the model for Jake's sculpture (c) Jake Bowers

By Dee Cooper

(Colour artwork by Dolly Romany Arts)