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

PUBLISHED: 10:51 16 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:51 16 August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

"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."

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

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

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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