The Gypsy’s Spell
Gypsy Spells Don’t Work
- or Do They?
The Gypsy’s Spell
The Gypsy’s Yard
Slowly we approach the Gypsy’s Yard at the side of a common.
We peer into the mass of old cars, mangle, foliage, galvanised walls, shacks.
We see a large notice on a pole which says;
HE IS HERE
FAMOUS GYPSY FORTUNE TELLER
FORTUNES TOLD IN CONFIDENCE
SPELLS / PALMS READ
NEVER KNOWINGLY WRONG
There is a large crude picture of the PRINCE.
In a small glass case, yellowing newspaper clippings accounce ‘Gypsy Prince Successful’, ‘Successful Spell’, ‘All in a Day’s Work, says the Prince’. Gypsy paraphernalia stand around, dismembered mattresses with the stuffing half out, an old-fashioned mangle, a small square tent with pointed top.
We pass bill boards which have large pictures of the tarot.
Peering through all this, we see the ferocious face of the PRINCE who wears a scarlet cloak over his scruffy clothes. He is shuffling tarot cards.
A fire burns in front of the shack on which boils a cauldron and a black kettle. Beside the shack is the PRINCE’s fortune-telling tent, painted with signs of the zodiac and a romantic portrait of the PRINCE with obscure writing and, in the background, his caravan.
Sitting opposite him is a young man, RAY.
PRINCE: So, you want me to give false evidence, as you might say?
RAY: Not false. Just twisted.
PRINCE: What you’re asking is very out of order.
RAY: I’ll pay.
PRINCE: Hmm. Let’s get this clear. A certain young lady will be coming to see me ... And you want me to tell her -
RAY: Tell her her destiny is to be with me. Tell her you see it in the crystal. Or any way you like. But tell her.
PRINCE: How much is all this worth, did you mention?
RAY: One hundred pounds?
The PRINCE jumps up and begins to pace around.
PRINCE: Including the spell?
RAY: Excluding the spell.
PRINCE: (musing) The spell would be extra ... This is a heavy thing you’ve asked me. I’ll have to consider.
RAY: (slightly ironic) What, look in the crystal ball?
PRINCE: (seriously) Yes. (He gazes into the ball)
RAY: Well, doesn’t it tell you to do what I say?
PRINCE: Fortelling the future is not an exact art. I make mistakes, sometimes. Misinterpret.
RAY: Of course you do. When you’re in the market - telling fortunes from - scores each day - you can’t be right each time.
PRINCE: No! I make mistakes! I told you!
RAY: Anyway, my girlfriend comes tomorrow -
He holds out a wodge of money.
All this is yours if you tell her what I said.
PRINCE: (trying to get the picture) Did you advise to her she comes to see me?
RAY lets two of the notes fall to the ground.
RAY: Those are for starters. You get the rest when you tell her what I said.
The PRINCE continues sitting by the fire. He lights his pipe from one of the notes.
We see MAVIS, the girl in question, approach the Gypsy encampment.
The PRINCE and MAVIS sit by the fire. They’re evidently deep in conversation about the significance of dreams.
PRINCE: ... Yes, the worst event in me life was forecast in a dream. Look - look with me into the crystal.
The PRINCE makes a gesture over the crystal, as if engendering:
First we see abstract forms in the crystal. Then: A bloodstained GIRL with golden hair and silver spurs and red jacket lies beside a road.
By the Caravan
PRINCE: There, did you see?
MAVIS: I saw nothing.
PRINCE: Wait while I tell you what I shall because - I shall tell what I shall tell. I was with me family then, ah yes. In Hampshire. And there’s certain people, I’m sorry to say, who cannot abide the Gypsies. They envy us. Gypsies are a gay race.
Anyway, we were driving down a lane, looking for a place to stop. I was just coming into a little village when suddenly -
We see the PRINCE’s lorry approach, then the bloodstained GIRL.
PRINCE: There was this girl in a pool of blood! I was afeared. I woke my wife and told her.
In the Caravan
The GYPSY’S WIFE sits up in the narrow bed.
YVONNE: Oh Petulengro, I’m scared. I’m scared it may foretell something dreadful, dreadful for the children!
By the Caravan
PRINCE: A few days later, we were just going into a village when this same girl came on the road in front of me!
He continues as if in a trance.
A girl with beautiful golden hair hanging down in ringlets, and she wore a black velvet cap and a bright red riding habit with silver buttons, riding boots and jodhpurs, then suddenly the pony rears. I, in me lorry, slams on me brakes and swerves. The girl tries to quieten the pony. It gets wilder. Then it rears! It goes on rearing! I get out of me seat to go to her help when me lorry is hit a great bump from behind. The lorry behind has been unable to stop. I’m pushed forward right over the body of the girl.
He comes out of his trance, reorientates himself.
It was a drunken man was driving that lorry. So, later in court, at the inquest, they brought in a case of accidental death.
MAVIS: And you’d foreseen it all? You’d seen this accident in a dream?
PRINCE: I’d foreseen this accident in a dream. These are deep matters. The future, me friend, lies all about us. Dreams, the Tarot, the crystal ball, the stars, foretell it. Spells can be used to alter it. I know you.
MAVIS: What do you mean?
PRINCE: I know you. Know’d you’d be coming round these parts. I know you.
MAVIS: What d’you mean, know me?
PRINCE: Know you. Know who you are. Come on now, have a cup of tea.
MAVIS: Oh, well, no - I just wanted - to ask your advice -
PRINCE: I know. I know you. Cup of tea. What you need. A cup of tea. I know you. Know you.
MAVIS: I actually came to ask you about something.
PRINCE: I know. I know.
MAVIS: I mustn’t be long. I’ve only got an hour.
PRINCE: (with immense reverence for time) An hour!
MAVIS: Yes. I’m expected.
PRINCE: (thoughtfully, reverentially) Expected!
He places a hand on her thigh.
In front of the caravan the PRINCE and MAVIS are squatted round the open fire on which stands a cauldron, which the PRINCE is stirring with a long ladle or stick.
PRINCE: (to himself as he stirs) Sheep’s head. Foot of cow. Frog’s foot. (Then he turns to MAVIS) Frog’s foot! Have ye got the frog’s foot?
MAVIS looks in a battered basket.
MAVIS: Is this it?
She hands it to him.
PRINCE: Lamb’s testicles.
MAVIS: Here, Prince.
She hands them over with distaste. The PRINCE, a trance-like expression on his face, begins to chant a curse. He finishes, and sits back.
PRINCE: It has been generally held that powerful things are often shown in dreams or in prognostications.
MAVIS: You said that already!
PRINCE: Now! Look! In the crystal ball!
PRINCE: What do you see?
MAVIS: Nothing. Well ... oh!
The PRINCE makes magical gestures. And to the surprise of MAVIS, there follows:
An Impressionistic Sequence
Swirling images from which emerge Tarot cards, the signs of the Zodiac, palmistry, diagrams, tea-leaf patterns.
MAVIS: Well! (she is much impressed)
PRINCE: There’s nothing there, of course, really. It just shows what’s in your own mind.
MAVIS: Is this the crystal you use for fortune telling?
PRINCE: Yes. For telling the future. And for sending me enemies mad!
He says the latter with a shriek!
His face is lost amid the swirling signs of the Zodiac.
Five Minutes Later
Watched by MAVIS, the PRINCE is putting various further unsavoury items into the boiling cauldron.
PRINCE: Sheep’s head ... Foot of cow ... Frog’s foot ... Head of stoat ... Bag of lion’s shit ... So, what did you want to tell me?
MAVIS: Well, it’s about me boyfriend. It’s nothing I can put me finger on really. But he’s acting strangely. Getting on me nerves.
Two Minutes Later
PRINCE: It’s some kind of gift, you see. It lets Gypsies in to tell the future. That’s what we believe - and know. It’s in our minds. Our concern lies with the spirit paths that lie along the hills and through the woodlands - the magic that lies in wild places. We, those who have the gift of the future, ain’t afraid to die; we know that this life starts when we’re dead. Telling fortunes comes from the past. From history. From the back of beyond. From forgotten times.
Music. We see images of:
1. The PRINCE driving his caravan.
2. Image of the past happy life with his CHILDREN.
3. Picking nuts from the trees.
4. Driving along in the caravan lorry.
5. A child guards the outside of a tent where there is a notice:
FORTUNE-TELLING IN PROGRESS.
6. The PRINCE sits by his CHILDREN as they drop off to sleep in the caravan.
PRINCE: (voice over) From strange times. Strange Gypsy times. Not for us to settle down and stay in one place. We’re the wandering tribes. We wander because we don’t want to settle - don’t want to live in a house - want to wander through the world, through God’s air. And, through being close to nature, we get close to spells and the future and other secret things. That’s what I always used to tell me children. We’re Gypsies. Be proud of being a Gypsy. When other folk are shut up in their homes, the Gypsy is out in the world. We have contempt for the Gorjios, that’s what we call you non-Gypsies. Your clocks - your clocks - that’s what you serve. And why live in a house when you could be in the open, in God’s air?
Music. We see more historic images of Gypsy horses, waggons, travelling on the road.
PRINCE: I could fashion a good spell on you. Do you good. Make good fortune attend you. My spells are good spells. Once I’d parked me trailer in a market. We settled in and then -
At the Market
SUPERINTENDANT: Come on, you can’t stay here, get out! Get moving!
PRINCE: Look, please don’t turn us out. Look, we’ve only just got here.
SUPERINTENDANT: If you don’t go away, we’ll tow you away.
PRINCE: If you do that I’ll put a curse on this town.
SUPERINTENDANT: Big deal.
PRINCE: And they towed us away. So I sent me little boy to the slaughter-house. He bought certain ingredients. And we made a little fire in the market.
The PRINCE makes a fire.
PRINCE: (voice over) On to the fire we put a pig’s head. Then a sheep’s head. Then a pig’s hoof and then a sheep’s hoof. And then a decomposing cow’s head. I caused the fire to blow the higher. I fluffed out me hair and beard with me old steel comb. The moon was mounting in the sky. I put a cockerel’s head on the fire, just taken off, dripping with blood. So then I said certain things by the light of the moon ...
The PRINCE speaks the spell.
PRINCE: And then we went to bed happy. And next day, sure as God’s above, disease broke out among the cattle on the market and spread all over the country and through my curse no cattle were sold for three months.
MAVIS: I see.
PRINCE: So then we travelled on and we stopped again. At two o’clock in the morning, when me chavvies were in bed fast asleep, they brought a tractor. They dragged us, dragged us two mile outside the town.
We see the PRINCE.
PRINCE: (voice over) Well, I got out the wagon and fluffed out me long hair and beard with the steel comb. I was very fed up. I got a watering can. I filled it full of water. I hammered it full of holes! And then I held the water can up and I made a curse ... that this town would be flooded! And they’d take refuge in the bedrooms. And they’d be going in boats in the streets.
MAVIS: And did it happen?
The PRINCE makes a gesture.
Floods pour through the town.
MAVIS is astonished. The PRINCE is pouring champagne.
PRINCE: I like you. Let’s have a drink.
On top he pours Ribena. Both drink.
PRINCE: And now. A look in the future.
He indicates the crystal.
MAVIS: Oh, I don’t know if I want to.
PRINCE: You’re not afeared?
MAVIS: Well, a little.
The PRINCE is also a little disturbed by what’s going on.
PRINCE: Let’s look. There may be more than we know.
He puts the cloth back over the crystal.
PRINCE: No, let’s consult the ...
He picks up the Tarot cards.
PRINCE: The Tarot. The Tarot, my dear, a very old way from the past of foretelling the future.
MAVIS: I know.
The PRINCE deals the Tarot. Very bad cards appear.
He looks at MAVIS, sombrely silent. Suddenly the atmosphere is no longer euphoric round here.
MAVIS: What do they say?
PRINCE: I won’t tell you for the moment. Give us that cup.
He takes the cup from which MAVIS was drinking the champagne and peers at the dregs. We see the image that he sees, it is confused and not recognisable.
Again the PRINCE looks at MAVIS.
The PRINCE gets out the crystal ball and peers into it and for a while there is silence, broken only by the crackling flickering flames of the fire outside.
Slowly the dissolving and distorted images seem to coalesce into an image which, while not being completely apparent, is violent and terrifying! It seems to show the PRINCE attacking the girl, as she bestrides a horse which is rearing. The PRINCE is aghast, he looks at his visitor in horror and amazement, then back at the crystal ball. The image will not go away.
The PRINCE mutters to himself in Romany. Much shaken, he turns again to MAVIS, then looks again at the ball.
MAVIS: What is it?
PRINCE: You won’t be able to see.
MAVIS: Yes, but for heaven’s sake, let me have a try!
MAVIS brushes him aside and is now gazing into the crystal.
The images are now more ambiguous. It is not clear whether she sees the same as the PRINCE. Then the image fades.
There is a stunned silence.
PRINCE: Did you see what I saw?
MAVIS: What did you see?
PRINCE: I saw ... I couldn’t see exactly. I don’t know. What did you see?
MAVIS: I don’t know.
PRINCE: I saw nothing. Come on, come on, here’s your money back. Come again some other time, for now I’m exhausted and not in the mood for any more fun.
Both have seen some sort of image of violence involving themselves, but neither will admit to the other that they have. There is an uneasy feeling between them.
MAVIS looks at the PRINCE, alarmed.
MAVIS: Well, good night!
The PRINCE shouts after MAVIS.
PRINCE: Don’t come again! Don’t come again!
He sits back, appalled.
One Day Later
MAVIS: (very agitated) What did you see in the crystal then?
PRINCE: (miserable) I saw myself.
MAVIS: What were you doing?
The PRINCE doesn’t reply.
MAVIS: I see. Bad things. Is that what you saw?
PRINCE: I don’t know. I don’t know what I saw!
MAVIS: Will what you saw ever happen?
PRINCE: I don’t know what I saw or whether it will happen.
At the side of the tent we see a second billboard on which is written:
CROSS HIS PALM WITH SILVER
SEES ALL FUTURE THINGS
NEVER KNOWINGLY WRONG
PRINCE: Let’s have a look at your palm.
MAVIS holds out her palm. The PRINCE studies it but his mood does not lighten. Evidently what he sees confirms what he already fears.
PRINCE: I know what I’ll do. In case there’s anything bad in the future - I’ll make a good spell - so things will be good - very good - in the future. All right?
MAVIS: All right. Yes. That does seem the best thing.
On a Steep Hillside
The PRINCE, helped by MAVIS, unloads books of ancient wisdom. Following their advice, he conducts his spell.
The fire. The smoking cauldron. The abracadabra. He speaks the spell. Then he walks over to where MAVIS is watching.
PRINCE: All right?
MAVIS: I feel better already.
One Day Later
We see the swirling images of the PRINCE’s ball - nothing recognisable.
Outside the Tent
We see the PRINCE alone, watching this.
We see the images in the crystal ball. These turn into an image of MAVIS riding a white horse. She’s talking to someone.
MAVIS: Daddy gave me this. I love horses. Do you love horses? Sitting on a horse, I feel I know - everything.
Now the PRINCE sees himself walking beside her.
PRINCE: Yes, well, I’m still game on horses. I’m very fond of ‘em still. Me heart is in a horse. I love to see horses. I break ‘em. I’d give an extra five pounds for an unbroken horse. One that’s never saw a road, or saw a motor. That’s my type. I used to love the fun of flagging ‘em down and getting ‘em to work, you know.
The PRINCE is now on the horse with MAVIS.
PRINCE: We Gypsy people, you see, we are in love with easy going days. Your clocks - that’s what they worship, the Gorjios. But, while they’re living to work, we’re doing a bit of work to live. We’re on the spirit paths, out in the margins of eternity.
He sings a line of an old song.
You could stay here if you like. I could do with an assistant.
MAVIS tosses her head around, laughing.
By the Fire
It is evening. In real life the PRINCE is sitting with MAVIS by the fire.
PRINCE: ... And all through me life I had been having this vision, of my children being taken from me.
MAVIS: How many children do you have?
PRINCE: Seven children! Seven lovely children.
MAVIS: Where are your children now, Prince?
PRINCE: Taken. All taken from me. Remember how I was saying how me lorry ran over the girl on the horse? That’s how it happened. After that, folks grew angry with me. And that was the start of me disasters. Because people thought I’d killed that girl. They chased us in the following days. Chased us so that we could nowhere stay long enough to earn a living, or make enough for our petrol. No one would give us work. I couldn’t stand it. Seeing me children starving. And next day the gavvers got more angry, they drove us with two police cars. We really were starving, travelled all that day, it was twelve at night when we stopped. We were out of petrol. We were tired and hungry. I went across to a house where there was a light on and asked for some water.
Outside a House; Night
HOUSEWIFE: I’m not giving you water.
She slams the door.
PRINCE: That was not a pleasant night. The newborn baby was sick, and we none of us got much sleep. I was up early in the morning trying to get some work but it had been in the newspapers about the accident. They all recognised me. Then a Gorjio took pity on me and gave me a fiver!
In a Shop
The PRINCE is shopping. Suddenly MADELEINE runs in.
MAD: Daddy! Daddy!
PRINCE: What is it, Madeleine?
MAD: Daddy, daddy, the gavvers have chored the chavvies!
PRINCE: (voice over) She said that the police had taken the children away. I asked where they had taken them to.
MAD: (synch) They took them in a car. I don’t know where they took them.
PRINCE: (synch) Which way? Which way did they go?
MAD: Well -
In the Police Station
PRINCE: Where are the children? I want my children!
POLICEWOMAN: It’s all right, sir. Go in there and wait, they’re upstairs having some breakfast. Then they’ll be down to join you.
MAGISTRATE: We can see that you have no money and little prospects of getting money. Therefore I am making an order for the children to be taken into care. Anything you’d like to say?
PRINCE: There’s something I’d like to say. I am capable of looking after my children. But I’ve been driven on, been driven on, driven from pillar to post. I wasn’t able to practice my trade of fortune-telling and so make my living and keep my children in food.
The MAGISTRATE acts as if to continue the case.
PRINCE: Take them - take them from me. But also, take this curse. I shall curse you today in English. And I shall curse you in Romany. You’ll regret this to your dying day. May you never rear another child of your own as long as you live.
He curses in Romany.
We see the appalled face of the MAGISTRATE.
In the Police Station
From the PRINCE’s point of view we see a birthday cake with six candles on it. And the six CHILDREN sitting round it. Two WOMEN POLICE OFFICERS stand around. And when the CHILDREN see him, they shout:
CHILDREN: Daddy! Daddy! Take us home, Daddy!
He throws his arms around LINDRA and she throws her arms around him. But the POLICEWOMAN grabs hold of the little girl and the two POLICE OFFICERS grab hold of him.
MAVIS is weeping.
MAVIS: It’s shocking. What a shocking story.
She is very upset by what the PRINCE has told her.
PRINCE: And now I’m a lonely man since I’ve lost me chavvies. I go to bed on many a night with an ache in me heart and a tear in me eye. To get me chavvies back, that’s all I live for, and then I’ll be happy. For now, me life is empty. They’ve took me chavvies and part of me blood. They’ve put me children in prison, children that were free and happy, and these are sad days for me. Folks believe that Gypsies steal children. Truth is, the Gorjios have taken me children.
So, I have put a curse on the Gorjio country. Things went from bad to worse. There were strikes, everything has been inflation, drought, buildings fallen, crops growed up rotten, money has lost its value, things gone from bad to worse. There’s been disasters on the rails, disasters in the air, disasters on the sea. Disasters in the home.
Now I am a sad man ... I’m the only Romany Gypsy there’s ever been who lives alone. Because my wife grieved so much when she lost her chavvies that she went off her head.
The PRINCE’s wife with ketchup in her hair.
PRINCE: Because when a bird loses its chicks, when a cat loses her kittens, when a human woman loses her young, all these go berserk.
In the Caravan
The PRINCE’s wife in bed with an INDIAN.
PRINCE: She started going with an Indian.
Outside the Caravan
The PRINCE has a can of petrol. He throws it over the caravan, strikes a match and tosses it onto a piece of petrol-stained newspaper. The caravan goes up in flames.
The PRINCE’S WIFE, screaming to get out. She dives out of the closed glass window, scarring herself as she goes. The INDIAN does the same and runs off, chased by the PRINCE.
PRINCE: But I don’t think she did it from lust. I think she did it to earn a few bob, to get back our children with us. She went then. She now lives on the streets in London town.
The PRINCE’S WIFE on the streets.
PRINCE: That’s what they have done to us. They’ve come near to destroying us. They have accomplished what they set out to do. So can you wonder why I, myself, sometimes is very bitter?
Outside the Door of the Children’s Home
The PRINCE is talking to someone we can’t see.
PRINCE: Well, get him out to see me. Here I am, his father. I demand to see him.
The Same, Later
The PRINCE is talking to his son NATHAN.
NATHAN: Well, I must be going now.
PRINCE: What’s up with you, son? I’ve never seen a child so frightened, so frightened in me life.
NATHAN: I can’t stop. I’m sorry Dad, can’t stop. I’ll be getting into trouble.
NATHAN: Sorry, Dad. I’m not trying to put you down. But I must go now.
PRINCE: Why don’t they let me have my kids? It costs so much to keep them in care. Just a few bob at that time and they could still be with me.
He sits, silently weeping.
MAVIS: You know, I’d like to have a bash at getting the children back for you. I wonder. I might be able to pull some strings, I mean because I’m not a Gypsy.
A long pause.
PRINCE: You think you could? Really, could?
MAVIS: May I have your permission?
PRINCE: Yes. Oh, and much more than my permission.
In the Children’s Home (1)
MAVIS and CHILD 1.
MAVIS: Do you know why I’m here?
CHILD 1: No.
MAVIS: It’s to see whether I can’t find some way for you - for all you children - to go back to your father.
CHILD 1: What, my father the Gypsy?
MAVIS: That’s right.
CHILD 1: Oh.
In the Children’s Home (2)
CHILD 2: I don’t want to go back to the old Gypsy.
MAVIS: But he’s your Dad.
CHILD 2: Yes, but he’s only a dirty Gypsy.
In the Children’s Home (3)
CHILD 3: Yeah, but look at it from my standpoint. I’ve got the chance of joining the army. I’ve got a career in front of me. They wouldn’t have me if they knew I was a Gypsy.
In the Children’s Home (4)
CHILD 4: Anyway, me Mum’s become a layabout now.
In the Children’s Home (5)
In the Children’s Home (6)
SUPERINTENDANT: You see what I mean? The Gypsies are done for in Britain. They’ve had it. Their wandering days are over long ago. These children are wise enough to know this.
MAVIS: Why should the Gypsies be done for?
The Fireside, Day
The PRINCE is looking into his crystal. He sees:
Himself sitting in silence, gazing into the crystal. Then, the crystal reveals MAVIS, on her horse, approaching him.
The PRINCE looks up with astonishment. He sees the same image in real life as he’s been seeing in the crystal.
MAVIS arrives on the horse, silent.
MAVIS: (tiredly) Well what?
PRINCE: Last time you were here you were full of stories. How you would be going to the Children’s Home. Get my children back to me.
MAVIS says nothing. Only the horse goes prancing around.
PRINCE: Did you go?
MAVIS: I went.
PRINCE: And - well, can you get me lovely chavvies back?
MAVIS is silent a moment and then says:
MAVIS: Prince, hear this from me.
MAVIS: I spoke to the superintendant. He said that it would be possible for you to have your children back with you.
PRINCE: Would have - would be - would have - are you speaking in riddles?
MAVIS: Understand this. You could have them back. There’s only one reason why you can’t have your children with you.
MAVIS: They’ve been brainwashed, Petulengro. They’ve been taught to despise you.
PRINCE: Ha! Have they been taught that?
MAVIS: Prince, they think they don’t want to come!
PRINCE: You told them! You told them not to come!
MAVIS: Not me. Not me. No, they’ve been taught!
PRINCE: Taught what?
MAVIS: Taught to despise you. Your children don’t want to come. They don’t want to live as Gypsies.
The PRINCE is unable to stop himself doing what all along he knew he would do. Unable to accept the terrible news, rising to his full height, he seizes a piece of rope, loops it and throws it round MAVIS, trying to pull her off the horse. But now the action continues further than he saw in the ball, for now in a dreamlike way she has pulled his end of the rope tight, so that he is pulled up against her. Then she gets off the horse and stands, pressed against him.
MAVIS: Trust me. Tomorrow we’re going to get them back.
PRINCE: Go to get them? How?
MAVIS: It’s easy! They won’t come back to you because they don’t want the Gypsy’s life.
MAVIS: They would come back to you if you lived in a house!
PRINCE: And so?
MAVIS: I’ve got a house. If there’s a house to go to, the children would be happy to come back with you.
PRINCE: Me, live in a house?
The flames flicker across his face as he ponders ... and ponders ... and ponders ...
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