Peter Rhodes on cold winters, big-spending drivers - and the end of the road for traveller families?

Research by the Office for National Statistics suggests the traditional gipsy or traveller way of life is dying out. Families are swapping life on the road for the toilets and hot showers of settled dwellings. At the same time, the younger generation is said to be more ambitious.

Bentley – doing very nicely
Bentley – doing very nicely

Anyone could have seen that coming. In the age of social media, how do you convince bright traveller kids that the only possible or acceptable lifestyle is the one their parents and grandparents knew?

And so the romance of the horse fair is giving way to the excitement of university graduation day. A traditional way of life is dying - by degrees.

Bentley is having a good year. Profits are up by 109 per cent at about £550 million, largely because its richer customers are paying for luxury leather and timber interiors, adding £100,000 to the basic price of £220,000. Remember, as you huddle around a candle for warmth, we are all in this together.

It’s just that some are deeper in it than others.

We have been so focused on global warming that we probably overlooked that last year saw the coldest winter on record in parts of Antarctica. How can this be?

The US news channel CNN offered this helpful explanation: “It is important to understand weather is different from climate. Weather is what happens over shorter periods of time... climate is what happens over much longer periods.”

Another useful definition is that climate is what you expect and weather is what you get.

Chelsea Banning, an American author, complained that only two people turned up for her first book signing after 37 promised to be there. Fellow writers promptly offered comfort and empathy, including Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) who recalled a signing when no-one showed, and Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) who made a joint appearance with the legendary Terry Pratchett, and again no-one turned up.

I feel distinctly superior, having done the meet-your-public thing twice this year. At the first I had a crowd of 120 and sold 40 copies of my book. The difference is Terry Pratchett went on to sell 100 million books and I did not.

*Peter Rhodes’ memoir, Bloody Adjectives, is published by Brewin Books.

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