The bubbling of a baby, ripples and pops to the surface as Jess and John wrestle with their chosen way of life. Labelled as New Age travellers, self-professed nomads, yet commonly referred to as ‘Gorgers’ (a travelling term for settlers) by the community in which they live, Jess and John look to the concrete foundation of what has become a ‘normal’ dwelling and puzzle over the question, is a permanent house the more fitting environment for raising a child? A weighty question considering the values they embrace in living as they do.
Johns alliance to the travelling way of life is impassioned, his words are a rallying cry for this counter culture. ‘To get through life we need people that we can look at and think to ourselves we’re better than… and the travelling community, shit rolls down the hill and has to stop with us basically.’ He is outwardly sickened by the naivety that he perceives to surround the settled communities, the rat race they choose to run and judgement they choose to cast. Jess equally impassioned speaks with less vigour but her soft tone presses for a little compassion. ‘Not everybody does live in a house and that is okay, there are other ways of living because otherwise, it’s just a massive vicious cycle isn’t it. People are.. are just taught to be closed minded from a very young age and that sticks with them.’ Repelled by the greying image, the tired ‘home sweet home’ bracketing of the ‘acceptable’ way to co-inhabit, she continually questions the ‘accepted’ way of living yet as an expecting mother, inside craves some of the homely comforts, the odd 20th-century utility. Jess confesses, ‘you obviously start not thinking of yourself, you start thinking of the baby and whats going to be the most comfortable for her and the best for her… and I think it’s also about making it easier for us as new parents.’
The couple are staunch devotees to the travelling way of life, although by some considered imposters, having not been born on the road, they enjoy their liberal standing and are proud to be able to relay a hand to hand account of each and every resource they use, as John happily divulges, ‘we fill up our water bottle and we see every day how many litres of water we go through whereas most people are switched off to all these things.’
Unarguably more rooted to the consumption needed to exist, the couple have even gone so far as to identify the nutritional value needed for a well-risen bump and soon to break child. John openly shares their research, ‘When we found out Jess was pregnant we had traditional ideas of a motherly matron type figure who’s suppose to swell up and be a whale and have lots of excess fat to provide that baby… but we found out a pregnant woman only needs an extra two hundred calories a day and that’s only in the third trimester.’ Having snatched that cheeky Marmite dipped Gerkin from many-an-expecting mothers hand, John pressed on, ‘there’s a few different differences in vitamins… so we added in a lot more nuts for protein and avocados because they’re really high in good healthy fats.’ As a vegetarian and not all that useful in the kitchen, Jess is dependant on John to keep her in fine fettle, physically that is, and very much treating food as a fuel, not as a luxury, John almost scientifically crams in the additional nutrients needed.
The couple appear to strip life down to the bare necessities and gorge off what’s left. John, as a practising gardener, is confident that if gifted an appropriate portion of land he could pretty much grow what they needed to eat and for him, that’s the conversation of food ticked, for him the only joy of potentially becoming entrenched in bricks and mortar would be laying the lawn to seed and if turnips were to be the only fruits of his labour then turnips are what they’d eat. In short foods for eating not a grand tale to be shared and celebrated.
John gleefully goes on, ‘If the electricity went off tomorrow then a good percentage of our population would die fairly quickly because they wouldn’t have their water, they wouldn’t have their cellophane packets of meat. Whereas I feel we’d just get on with life.’ A light bulb flashes, Jess and John shouldn’t be just squared off into the broadening box of poverty, they have made a considered choice for this way of life. John has in the past held down a successful ‘nine till five’ and has the qualifications to get another one, they just choose not to. They choose to rebuff consumerism, to drop the line rather than tow it and to write their own rules, lauding their own self-sufficiency.