Flattie: Memories of a Reluctant Traveller
by Jean Stirling
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ISBN Number: 9781803136257
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 324
Publication Date: March 2023
Publisher: Troubador Publishing

Did you enjoy the fair when it came to your town or village? Did you ever wonder about the showpeople… the families who travelled countrywide, and perhaps envy them?

My family were Scottish Travelling Showpeople, and during the 1940’s/1960’s we opened at almost every highland games event and miner’s gala day (yes… this was before Mrs Thatcher!) across Scotland.

This is the story of how we lived, and the culture of the showpeople of that time, who set out every spring in good faith, hauling everything, homes, families, stalls, from place to place, praying that the weather would be kind and the season profitable.

But more importantly, it is the story of our mam who met dad, a serving soldier during World War Two without knowing he was a showman. As an incomer (flattie) she quickly learned that the life was not all bright lights and candyfloss.

She would also learn that her young husband, despite his promises, refused to leave the business, not really understanding why she wanted to live in a house… and not a bus! This the story of our travels, the heartache of a family divided by prejudice, and mam’s odyssey.


‘This is a precious gem of a story and an important contribution to the crown of fairground history. In turns - it is funny, sad, and at times achingly poignant. It demonstrates beautifully the difficulties and merry-go-round of emotions and prejudice of marrying into the fairground community, but also … the support and camaraderie of the travellers through tough times and the struggles faced by fairground travellers after WW2.’
David Slattery-Christy (award-winning playwright and author)

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