Unique Romany way of life brought to life in legend’s new book

Mike Harmer in a Bow Top Vardo he built. Picture: Nick White

Mike Harmer in a Bow Top Vardo he built. Picture: Nick White - Credit: Archant

He's a veritable goldmine of Norfolk lore and part of that oral tradition is contained in a new book exploring Romany life in north Norfolk.

The Lamb family circa 1900. Mike Harmer's mother was a Lamb. Pictures: Mike Harmer

The Lamb family circa 1900. Mike Harmer's mother was a Lamb. Pictures: Mike Harmer - Credit: Archant

The son of a North Walsham horse trader and of proud Romany stock, Mike Harmer's new book is called 'Kaka, Rokker Romany', which literally means 'Hush, speak Romany'.

The 77-year-old grandfather was born in a railway carriage at Spa Common and still lives on the same site in a kair (house) he had built in 1990.

He said: "I have met a fair few folk and a couple of years back I thought it might be worth my while to put pen to paper relating tales of some characters I have encountered.

"Especially as my Romany heritage shines a light on a way of life that has all but disappeared.

Some of Mike Harmer's relations beside a nice old vardo, wagon. Pictures: Mike Harmer

Some of Mike Harmer's relations beside a nice old vardo, wagon. Pictures: Mike Harmer - Credit: Archant


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"I will be doing some talks at local history groups and hope to have book signings in some of our local bookshops."

In the book's introduction, he says: "Here you will find a collection of tales from my Romany upbringing. Join me on a journey back down old green lanes and wayside commons, to search and explore the exciting world of the old Romanies.

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"I'll take you into their kingdom, the forgotten past of the old dealers; along with tales of simple country folk and a few odd characters along the way."

The book is now available either from Mr Harmer or through Amazon, and will be for sale in bookshops.

Mike Harmer, Tales from a North Norfolk Romany Life. Pictures: Mike Harmer

Mike Harmer, Tales from a North Norfolk Romany Life. Pictures: Mike Harmer - Credit: Archant

Mr Harmer still runs a reclamation business and a friend he asked to say a few words about the book, added: "He has lived his life by his wits; an honest man, yet a wheeler and a dealer, a ducker and a diver. Storytelling is in his blood.

"Driving around the backroads of Norfolk with Mike you find that each byway, each dwelling has a story attached - where you or I might just see a barren field, Mike sees a landscape populated with human interaction."

He is half way through his next book, provisionally titled 'More Confessions of...'

The book is priced at £9.95, visit www.mikeharmerofnorfolk.co.uk

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