I am a Traditional storyteller from Scotland's Perthshire Travelling people. My past lifestyle which is now extinct was working the land. This closeness to nature taught me many things about the body's hidden senses and thankfully I have never lost them.
I have written three books on my life travelling the country in an old bus with parents and seven sisters who came and went over a period spanning ten years. Two of the books, Jessie's Journey and Tales from the Tent were in Scotland’s best-selling list and are now for sale in America and Canada. Book three, Tears for a Tinker, which finishes my journey stories, was published in April 2005.*
Jessie's Journey:Autobiography of a Traveller Girl
‘I am a Scottish traveller’ begins Jess Smith’s bestselling account of her childhood as one of Scotland’s travelling people. ‘Ask me where I belong,’ she says: it is ‘wherever the feather falls or the seed is blown.’ She is the proud inheritor of a long gypsy tradition. Her mother was born in a tent, and her aunts and uncles were described on official forms as tinkers, hawkers and itinerants. She herself lived from the ages of 5 to 15 with her parents, sisters and a mongrel dog, in an old blue Bedford bus. They travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, and much of England too, stopping here and there until moved on by the local authorities, or driven by their own instinctive need to travel. By campfires under the unchanging stars they brewed up tea, telling stories and singing songs late into the night.
Jessie’s story describes what it was like to be one of the last of the traditional travelling folk. It is not an idyllic tale: her way of life was outside the margins of respectable society, and that society could be harsh to travellers. It was not easy to get a good education from widely scattered schools; sudden ill-health could present a problem to those who were not registered with any doctor, and the threat of bigoted abuse or even violence was never far away. Despite this, humour and laughter run throughout Jessie’s childhood: her story teems with unforgettable characters and incidents. In more senses than one, this is a magical book: it is full of tales and songs, glimpses of animal and human nature. Jessie’s Journey is seen through the fresh eyes of a girl growing into adulthood, travelling along the roads and the wild places of a Scotland few of us really know.
As well a on Amazon and other outlets Jess's books can be obtained through me(Jess Smith)(signed copy) at no 1, glenturret. Crieff, Perthshire PH7 4LD or Booksource on 08453700067
Many, many thanks Jess.
The Matted Cat (Audio CD): Available to purchase online from Music in Scotland, or directly from Jess ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) priced £11.50 + 50p pp. Address - 1 GLENTURRET, CRIEFF, PH7 4LD, Scotland. Old Scottish songs, stories, poems and haunting music. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I did recording.
I am currently working on a short story compilation called Sookin' Berries. This collection will feature reminisces of travelling agricultural workers.
I also co-authored The Scottish Traveller Dialects with Robert Dawson, published by Robert Dawson Publishers in 2002.