Irene Smith is a Romany Gypsy-Traveller born in the 1930s in Heddon who lives in Hull. Renie, the mother of four boys and four girls, made a living hawking ‘pegs, flowers, lace, buttons, cotton – anything you could make a living out you’d put in that basket’ and also made use of her skills at ‘dureking’ (also known to some as ‘dukering’) – the telling of fortunes.
Dureking aye … there’s still people rings me up from America and tells me little things is still coming true what I forecast for her. So if you’re genuine you can always walk back again. […] if you’re genuine little things comes to pass. It’s there. […] God gives everybody a gift if you use it the right way.
Renie herself was one of ten children of whom four now remain. ‘There were ten of us, six girls, four boys and there’s one boy left now and three lasses’.
Telling of growing up with the old ways she describes – ‘we were never settled on these places, we travelled round. From Hull, from Middlesborough down to Hull, then Scarborough right back round to Whitby and back up Middlesborough and Newcastle with us on wagons’.