Tag Archives: Diddakoi

Kizzy was made into a TV drama by the BBC in 1976

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I just discovered that Rumer Godden‘s story for children, The Diddakoi, was actually made into a TV drama by the BBC in 1976. If you go to this page, and scroll down, you can see some pictures from the original series. I have been trying to find a video or a DVD of this television drama, but so far I have been unsuccessful. I will keep trying.

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Madonna explains gypsy comments

Pre-1989 division between the "West"...
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According to this BBC article, Madonna, the American pop star, made comments in support of Gypsies and against the discrimination they face during a concert in Bucharest in Romania, although she was booed by the fans for her comments. Madonna explains Gypsy comments.

Madonna has said she was “compelled” to comment on the discrimination against Romany Gypsies while on stage in Romania, despite being booed by fans. The 51-year-old was jeered by the audience in Bucharest after saying the discrimination “made me feel very sad”. ..

Madonna paused during her two-hour show to say: “It has been brought to my attention, that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe – it made me feel very sad. We don’t believe in discrimination, we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone.”

The star uses a group of Roma musicians on her Sticky and Sweet tour… Publicist Liz Rosenberg said… “Madonna has been touring with a phenomenal troupe of Roma musicians who made her aware of the discrimination toward them in several countries so she felt compelled to make a brief statement.”

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Gypsy children beg and thieve

This BBC news report tells about how Gypsy gangs use children to beg and steal money: How Gypsy gangs use child thieves

It appears to be true. It is unfortunate because a common stereotype of Gypsies is as thieves. Here, for example, is part of the Wikipedia entry on Romani:

Many fictional depictions of the Romani in literature and art present Romanticized narratives of their supposed mystical powers of fortune telling, and their supposed irascible or passionate temper paired with an indomitable love of freedom and a habit of criminality.

Here is more from the BBC article:

Madrid police say that 95% of children under 14 that they pick up stealing on the streets are Roma from Romania.

Because the age of criminal responsibility in Spain is 14, there is little they can do.

More than 1,000 Romanian Roma live in just one of the many camps that lie on the outskirts of Madrid.

The conditions are appalling – rats roam freely amid the rubbish, and there is no sanitation.

Every day children from the camp head out into the city to steal and beg, and many are beaten by their minders if they do not return with money.

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Interactive Writing #12: July 10th, 2009

  1. Returned old papers
  2. Individual conference with each student to discuss her summary of chapter 3
  3. Homework: Report on chapters 4 & 5
  4. Next week (July 17th):
    1. vocabulary test (same as the one in April)
    2. summary of chapters 6 & 7
  5. Exam (July 24th): write a 300-500-word book report on “Diddakoi“.  You must show me that
    1. you have read the book (i.e. you know the story, and can give examples from it (including actual words and sentences from the book)
    2. you know something about gypsies and about Rumer Godden – i.e. you have done some background reading
    3. you have read some reviews of the book (e.g. here or here or in Japanese here)
    4. you have thought about what you have read: you have some questions or some comments about the themes in the book (themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work) (e.g. a comparison with a story with similar themes)
    5. you have your own opinion about the book – show me you are a human being not a parrot.
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Interactive Writing session #11: July 3rd, 2009

Kes (film)
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There WILL be an examination – July 24th. (In today’s class, I said there would not be an examination: that was incorrect).

I will tell you more about the examination next class – July 10th. It will be a reading and writing exam, based on the two textbooks we have used this semester.

July 3rd lesson plan.

  1. Diddakoi“, page 24 ~ page
  2. Watch 2 sections of the movie Kes This movie was made at about the same time as the Diddakoi book was published. The main character, Caspar, is not a gypsy and he is older than Kizzy and has a brother. There are a few similarities: he has no friends (like Kizzy), is bullied (like Kizzy), and although he has a mother, she does not look after him well and they hardly ever see each other.
    1. Caspar steals a young kestrel and takes it home. Then he steals a book on falconry to learn how to train the kestrel. He trains the kestrel.
    2. We see Caspar at school, taking a sports lesson. He is not good at sports, he does not have any kit, and he is bullied by the sports teacher, who behaves rather childishly.
  3. What differences or similarities do you see between Britain of the 1970s and Japan of today?

N.B.: many of you wrote that in Britain the age of voting is 21. This is incorrect. In Britain the age at which people can vote is 18. In the movie, the librarian tells Caspar that, in order to borrow a library book, he must get the card signed by someone over the age of 21 and on the electoral roll (i.e. someone who lives in that city).


Write a report about chapter 3 of Diddakoi. Your report should be about 150 words. It must include:

  1. a summary of the main (key) points or events of the chapter
  2. an explanation of why these points or events are important for the story as a whole
  3. a comparison with another story you know, your own experience, or a news item
  4. your evaluation of the chapter: did you learn from it? If so, what? Be specific, and give details from the chapter.
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Interactive Writing session #9: June 19th, 2009

  1. To study English at university, you need
    1. a note-taking system
      1. e.g. mind maps, developed by a British man, Tony Buzan.
      2. here is a Japanese system which I like and use, developed by “Hawk Express” (for photos, click here)
    2. a vocabulary-learning system (e.g. word-cards)
      1. a way to record new words (spelling, pronunciation, meaning, at least; example sentence is a bonus, but it takes space)
      2. a way to review new words quickly and easily (if it’s not quick or easy, you won’t review them!)
  2. Class reading of chapter 2 of Diddakoi (up to p. 24)
    1. note new words, expressions, grammar,
    2. note how the gypsies speak
    3. note the gypsies’ ways of thinking (“Are you going to let your woman talk to me like that?”, “we don’t want no snoopers”, “’tisn’t children as are the bother… it’s the things they have to have”, “When you had one wagon there was plenty of room; in a fine house with three bedrooms there’s no room at all”.
    4. The Gypsies prefer a travelling life: they prefer the wagon to a house. They prefer their freedom, even if it means they cannot afford many “fine things”.
    5. They look after each other, and each other’s children.
    6. They have lots of old traditions which are different from those of non-gypsies (e.g. burning the home of a dead person).
    7. Not all gypsies respect the old traditions: some of them think that is “old thinking” and they want to change (or maybe they just want some of the dead person’s belongings?)
    8. The admiral knows the gypsies traditions and he respects them. He also trusts the gypsies (even though there is a fire in his orchard, he is not worried).
  3. Homework: prepare the rest of chapter 2 (at least up to page 30) before next class:
    1. look up new words, check the pronunciation, not just the meaning.
    2. I expect you to read and prepare before the class, not during the class.
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Interactive Writing session #8: June 12th, 2009

  1. Review: what are the main themes of “Diddakoi“?
  2. A theme is a big idea. There are many smaller ideas in each chapter of the book. For example:
    1. Why is Kizzy’s Gran found dead outside the wagon, not inside it? Because gypsies want to die outside under the open sky.
    2. Why do the other gypsies burn the wagon? Because gypsy tradition says that nothing that belonged to the dead should be used or touched.
  3. Assignment:
    1. Re-read chapters 2 and 3 and pick out 10 new ideas or concepts
    2. Find an article, essay or interview in Japanese about
      1. either gypsies,
      2. or Rumer Godden.
      3. summarize the article or essay in 2-3 sentences, and provide the reference to it using the MLA style.
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Interactive Writing session #7: June 5th, 2009

A Romany old woman from the Czech Republic
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  1. Rules for email, blog entries, homework:
    1. name and date on everything
    2. spellcheck
    3. blog entries and email deadline – by Wednesday 13:00
    4. one blog entry for each assignment
  2. Discussion:
    1. what are the merits and demerits of a blog?
      1. can edit any time
      2. classmates can read each other’s work
      3. can leave comments and receive comments from visitors
      4. can add hyperlinks and so add educational value
    2. Homework questions (when and where was Rumer Godden born and where and when did she die? Where are “the South Downs” and “Rye, Sussex“?)
    3. What are the themes of “Diddakoi“?
      1. growing up
      2. opening up the heart
      3. learning to trust
      4. prejudice and discrimination
      5. ethnic minorities (gypsies) in Britain
  3. Homework.
    1. Who/what are the Gypsies or Romany people? Where did they come from? What language do they speak? What is the origin of their language? What is their history? Write on paper or by email in 60-100 words.
    2. Correct and spellcheck your summary of and reaction to the Diddakoi story. Post to your blog (by Wednesday, June 10th, 13:00)
    3. Post to your blog your answers to last week’s homework (when and where was Rumer Godden born and where and when did she die? Where are “the South Downs” and “Rye, Sussex”?)
Rye_-_East_Sussex_dot map
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View from the tower of St Mary's church, Rye, ...
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Location of United Kingdom
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Interactive Writing session #6: May 29th, 2009

Location map: United Kingdom (dark green) / Eu...
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  1. Look at the MLA Guidebook on how to reference a book (page 1) and a movie (page 3).
  2. Go back to your blog entry where you wrote about a movie and a book
    1. Add a reference to the book and the movie USING THE MLA FORMAT (i.e. exactly the same as in the Guidebook).
    2. Print out your blog entry and show it to me.
  3. If you have not yet created your blog, create one and email me your blog address (URL): marc.sheffnerアットマークgmail.com. INCLUDE YOUR NAME in your email.
    1. You can create a blog at Goo, Livedoor, or Blogger
    2. Do not use ameba because Ameba does not allow comments in Roman alphabet.
  4. Write a 50-word summary of Diddakoi AND a 50-word response. If you did not finish in class, email it to me before next Thursday, June 4th: marc.sheffnerアットマークgmail.com. INCLUDE YOUR NAME in your email.
  5. Homework:
    1. Find a map of the UK and print it out or photocopy it.
    2. On the map mark the following:
      1. Where and when was Diddakoi author Rumer Godden born? Where and when did she die?
      2. The Downs
      3. Rye
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