A pikey, for non-Brits, is slang for gypsy/traveller. There are a couple of explanations for the derivation of the word:
1) from a ‘turnpike’ which was where people would pay tolls in olden times in the UK, and apparently the travellers would gather and camp around the turnpike (source, urban dictionary)
2) from a 16th century word ‘pike’ meaning to go away/from (source, wiki, from routledge)
The urban dictionary has a brilliant definition:
whose main sources of income are as follows:
Stealing cars, flogging roses in pubs for “childrens’ charities”, nicking lead off roofs, burgling garden sheds, blagging entry to old peoples house to rob them, doing dodgy tarmac jobs (“we’ve got some black stuff left over from a job up the road”), sometimes with mint imperials used as a substitute for white chippings, or, reportedly, using snow to lay slabs on when the sand ran out, stealing your bollocks if they weren’t in a bag and anything else that’s not nailed down and anything that is nailed down but will fit in the back of an untaxed Transit when nobody’s looking.
When I was a kid, gypsies were renowned for stealing chickens, and selling clothes pegs and sprigs of ‘lucky’ white heather – both my mother and grandmother would buy it for fear that bad luck would fall on them if they didn’t.
I was made of sterner stuff. When I was approached in Córdoba one day, i refused to buy the heather. As I walked away, a stream of abuse followed me complete with very unlucky gypsy curses. Sadly my family fear kicked in and I sat shaking in Córdoba railway station wondering what terrible fate would befall me. Perhaps the ‘plane would crash on the way back to the UK and I would never see Partner and the dogs again. I rang him up so I could hear his voice one last time.
It goes without saying the ‘plane didn’t crash. It was the last time I flew though.
So what does that have to do with us? Well, while we don’t go around nicking things, readers will be aware that we do forage around rubbish bins and are more than happy to accept freebies.
The latest acquisition is a bed. Partner meets all manner of people, I have no idea how, and one of them naturally offered him a bed. To which of course he said yes. I am quite happy sleeping on the floor, especially in summer when it is lovely to put an arm or a leg on the nice cool tiles, but he thinks as 60 looms ever nearer, that, one day he may struggle to get up off the floor in the mornings (OK, he already struggles). Personally I think it is just more junk to clutter up the flat, and it will make it more difficult to mop the bedroom floor.
The bed was duly collected, and now all it needs is a mattress. I say all, but that’s not quite true. It is pine finish. Nothing in my flat is pine, it is all oak (my mother’s furniture) or dark oak stain. Sort of suits the fifties style we have.
My holding ploy on this tedious bed then, is to have it stained dark oak before it goes down, or rather, gets put up. It’s fairly obvious that once in situ it will never be dismantled. And as Partner is working five days a week, that only leaves weekends, and normally he spends most weekends absolutely whacked. The last thing he wants to do is put on his overalls yet again and pick up a paintbrush :)
So there it sits, behind the sofa.
‘You’re just a pikey,’ says his British Gibraltarian colleague at work every time Partner mentions one of his latest freebies.
One of the Moroccans couldn’t understand why we didn’t have a bed in the first place. He figured if we had three houses (two at the finca and the flat in Gib) we could possibly be able to afford a bed. Well, true, but it’s not a priority – and – everything comes to she who waits.
There is a strange alliance on the worksite. The Moroccans and Brit/Gbs get on well together, merrily describing the Spaniards as racist. Given that the Spaniards have been heard to say that the site should be all Spanish workers, that’s not an unreasonable assessment.
Having said that, one of the Spaniards ripped into another yesterday in defence of Partner – who is well capable of defending himself.
He’d left his overalls in the vehicle overnight, collected them, and walked to the job wearing his shorts. Pepe pointed out his skinny leg and commented on it, asking if he had been in an accident. Partner had polio when he was a baby. When he’s tired he has a limp, and he’s also got a slight curvature of the spine. He’s not quite the Hunchback of Notre Dame though.
Sebastían exploded at what he thought was an insulting, thoughtless, derogatory question. After nearly 60 years of having one leg skinnier than the other, Partner is pretty used to tactless comments. At one point, he thought he and his skinny leg were going to have to limp between the two of them to stop it coming to blows.
Later that day, Pepe went back to Partner to apologise for his ill-thought comment.
If there is racial tension underneath the current of friendly camaraderie, what about the residents of the flats where they are working?
They are quite overt in their dislike of Spaniards. Many of the windows are being replaced, and a Spanish firm is carrying out the work. Many of the residents do not want Spaniards in their homes. Simple as that. One of them went so far as to say she would do without new windows, but she was told any future problems would be down to her. She caved in. As no doubt would have the windows eventually.
But one way the residents do show their favouritism is tea and biscuits. Partner and his Brit/Gib mate are regularly treated by the Gibraltarian residents, including left-over boxes of chocolates from Christmas.
Spaniards are renowned for their sweet tooth, or teeth, if they have any left. They come sniffing around to see what treats the Brits have got.
‘Don’t give anything to the Spaniards,’ the Gibbos always say. ‘They wouldn’t give anything to us.’ And there we have it, the building site, not for the first time, is a microcosm of the world, or at least the relationship between Spain and Gibraltar.
But to prove I am a total spender, here is not just one item, but two I have bought in the last month.
Some time ago, when Pippa was a youthful dog, he jumped up onto the cooker looking for goodies, and in the process managed to knock off the pestle and mortar sitting next to it. Finding a decent pestle and mortar in Gib was not easy. No ceramic ones, just flimsy little wooden ones. I looked in Spain. None! None in my village, none in my local town either. ‘You’ll need to go to Málaga,’ said one shop person. Ridiculous, I thought, everyone uses a pestle and mortar in Spain. Except most people only ever buy one because they don’t have dogs knocking them on the floor and breaking them, so it’s not exactly repeat trade.
Eventually I found a cast-iron one in Gib. It seemed these were very trendy, made popular by some TV chef or other. They may have been, but what they weren’t was practical for a climate that can top 90% humidity. I know how to work with cast-iron pans, I have loads of them. But baking it, oiling it, drying it thoroughly did not alter the fact that everything I ground up in there tasted ferrous, and had a healthy coating of rust on it. Eventually I looked at it one day, covered in dust as well as rust and chucked it in the bin. Wasn’t even worth advertising on freecycle in Gib although I suppose I should have taken it to the scrappy in Spain. A true pikey would have done. I hang my head in shame. And recommend you never buy a cast-iron pestle and mortar.
But at Christmas time, I was wandering around our Spanish town and decided to venture into a kitchen shop. Yes! A real ceramic pestle and mortar. I nearly said ‘I’ll have that. Wrap it up. Now.’ but prudence won over and I cautiously asked the price first, thought about it and then said, with a sigh, OK, I’ll take it.
Cost of new mortero: nearly €12 (and much less than the cast-iron one)
Back in Gib, I was wandering down Main Street and noticed a sale at the Silver Shop. I like silver earrings. They are cheap. It is cheaper to replace them when I lose them than it is to replace gold ones. I noticed a pair with £15 off that I liked. Nearly half price. A couple of days later, I clutched some twenties and bought not only those but a non-sale pair for Partner.
Cost of my earrings: £22 down from £37
But here, because I haven’t posted it before, is a pic of some of the free crockery some neighbours gave us. Sadly they had already given the cups away for some reason, but not the saucers, so we have half a dozen redundant saucers. But bowls and plates are always useful and he seems to like the mug for his morning tea (I’m a cup and saucer person hence my annoyance at the missing cups).
And, although not remotely relevant, although possibly so in terms of something for nothing, here is a photo of tourists feeding monkeys, not five yards away from the sign that says, ‘Don’t feed the monkeys’. Their only saving grace was that they fed him/her a banana rather than a bag of crisps. But still it encourages monkeys to come down to town and causes problems. Locals are frightened of them, the monkeys raid the rubbish bins, and all for a tourist here for a few hours to get a photo of a monkey close up.
Disclaimer. I do not endorse the use of perjorative or derogatory language towards people of the travelling communities, whether gypsies, romanies, irish travellers, new age (they are probably old age now) people etc etc. Nor do I endorse racism, or discrimination against people who have had polio, many of whom are so badly disabled that they have never worked.
I’m just a reporter.
I’ve added some posts to the recipe pages which you can find underneath the header photo.
Baked beans (which I have made this week) has gone under starters.
There is a new page for breads, which includes herb bread, spinach bread, and I’ll add the tomato and onion one.
And here, is what I should have taken, when I went to the presentation. One of Partner’s packed meals.
A salad pot, with olives, tomatoes, red peppers, clementine, veg feta in oak barrels or some such blurb, cucumber, herbs and salad leaves.
A bag of crisps, yes we do eat junk food, but at least these are just potatoes, sunflower oil and salt. I buy a big pack of five so each little pack of crisps works out at 39p. At the shop a bag of crisps is 58p. If he wants crisps, he can have decent, cheap ones.
The sandwich is the tomato and onion bread with a veg salami filling, and although you can’t really see, there are some sliced onions pickled in red wine vinegar inside the sarnie. This is a standard in my fridge as we both like pickles.
In fact, I think I will devote a whole post to how to slice onions and add to bowl, cover with red wine vinegar. Bound to get me Freshly Pressed that one I’m sure.
Oh and the tea. Well, obviously weak Twinings Breakfast Tea with food wouldn’t have had the same effect as strong black coffee without food…..