There are trains running in both directions, down tracks towards, into and out of the town ahead. Some years later, I received a strange vision on the first bridge heading north away from the station. I was transported to a terrible house many miles across, attended by swarms of vile birds. This is not relevant now and will not be discussed until you are ready.

The other direction is the one leading away from “the London”—black stains caked on yellow bricks—and into the warm reds. This is partially to do with the iron content of the clay, but largely to do with coke-dust effluent in the air up north. (“Up north” in this context is London.)

Still shaken from my near-immigrant experience, I resolved to meet my assistant, a habitual truant, a real turnip of a boy on a fast-track to obesity, outside the chip shop on the way to the station.

“I told you outside, cretin!” I greeted him jovially.

Gregg’s faith in me was such that my cruel jibe served only to cheer him up. I’d noticed him! He was making friends with the other boys, just like Mother wanted! (Gregg existed right on the border of “congenitally deformed,” but managed to get by undiagnosed, with only a slight air of wrongness.)

It must be told I harboured a nagging suspicion that his morning star went by “mum.”

Shaken by their disgustingness, I dismissed these thoughts. Providence saw fit to throw this overblown pasty into my lap, and I intended to make good use of him. Southwards!

What the coon is to everything north of Hither Green, the Gypsy is south of Hildenborough. People living in more metropolitan areas feel like the Gypsy is a myth, or something akin to a fairy, and have lost touch with their ancestral hatreds. This is their loss!

Bourgeois England, “national” England, is a reaction against the French, but the people themselves, the real country boys, are united only against the Gypsy. Gypsies crawling over wasteland, selling Mother useless roof tiles, telling Mother they were fine, her believing them! The stench!

I explained all this furiously to Gregg, without pausing for air, ’til stars danced before my eyes and I reached into a waxed pocket for my inhaler. Phuft-phuft-phuft…I sank and leaned into the wall opposite…

There is an old Gypsy song, sung only in moments of great secrecy behind shawls of dirty beads, on tin-strewn ground by unnamed creeks of half-treated sewage, which cuts through to the essence of their lonely predicament:

Tyrant of Earth! Pale Misery’s jackal thou!
Are there no stores of vengeful violent fate
Within the magazines of Thy fierce hate?
No poison in the clouds to bathe a brow
That lowers on Thee with desperate contempt?

At last we see them for what they are! Cursed wanderers!

Perhaps, Gregg, you have seen these lines mis-attributed. Pay no attention to hucksters and thieves! To steal from a Gypsy is to become one, and more than this! At least Brendan, leering out the windows of his mobile home, is aware he steals from something greater than his! Percy is and remains a thug!

Ask them! Ask them! Did we not build a small settled village for them, nestled on the far side of the Darent, for when the cruel machine necessity of the orchards changed? When tractors tore wicked slits through the turf of their lives! Away! Away! The village is called St Mary Cray!

Unhappy with their un-workers’ paradise, the Gypsy remained a nomad, dogmen: smelly people of the abyss!

Oh! Oh! Gregg had drifted away, sweaty fistfuls of battered sausage in each mitt.

I leant back and stared. He had something of the Mugridge about him. He may not have wanted my help, but he needed it. But first things must be first. I wondered, idly, if he may be a homosexual, and reached beneath my jacket…


For all installments of “Coon Hunting,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1