Richard Parsons

British Summertime – Bent

15 August 2018

Well, with the UK in the midst of its best summer sun since 1976 – heatwave! – what could be better than a chilled song that radiates Englishness? Bent (Simon Mills and Neil Tolliday) are one of my absolute favourite downtempo mixers/samplers from the turn of the millennium…

Summertime (Sweat Mix) – Deep Dive-Corp

31 July 2018

“Summertime” from the musical “Porgy and Bess” must have been covered endlessly, but this version, which I first heard in Brazil on a mix album called “Emiliano 2” really hooked me…it’s different!…

Part 35 – Given Circumstances

31 July 2018

I’ve been home for Christmas. Mum’s feebler. Small voice. ‘Can you get your own tea tonight?’

The Lent term of 1980 starts depressingly. January blues. I can’t even bask in the reflected glory of “The Mikado.” Full houses, bursting. ‘More!’ Even buying a new album – “The Return Of The Durutti Column” – filled with optimistic spring sounds, can’t diminish my sense of loss.

I spend dank dark afternoons freezing on the hockey playing fields. I should be more motivated, but really I’m finding my concentration telescoping into two areas. Drama and cricket…

Part 34 – Given Circumstances

24 July 2018

The smoke from the encore of the opening night of “The Mikado” is still hovering. The auditorium’s gradually emptying. No sign of The Big Cheese.

‘Well done, sir.’ Someone from stage crew scurries by.

‘Thanks. And well done you guys as well. Very slick.’

‘We’ll get more encores tomorrow. And Saturday’ll be mental.’ He grins and hurries away….

Part 33 – Given Circumstances

17 July 2018

At half six on the opening night of “The Mikado”, I’m standing with my notes,  facing the auditorium which is filled with a kaleidoscope of Japanese, nervously chattering. The orchestra’s fiddling quietly. Tuning. Biggles is whispering to one or two. Is he nervous? Am I? Mrs Undercarpet’s making a song and dance about pinning something up. ‘Hold still.’

 Gandalf’s in his tightest shorts yet. He’s standing right next to me, centre stage, shielding his eyes up into the flies. He knows I want to start. Shouts. ‘Move that parcan a couple of inches to your left!’ High profile…

Part 32 – Given Circumstances

9 July 2018

Shortly after my first half term break in Uppers, I receive a hand written missive commanding me to appear in front of The Big Cheese for a Royal Audience.

Now what? More “restructuring”? What have I done wrong? Is he about to sack me after all? Last in first out. My chest thumps.

Can’t seem to get a song from “The Mikado” out of my head.

“…defer, defer to the Lord High Executioner…”…

Part 31 – Given Circumstances

3 July 2018

A few weeks into the new academic year, I’m still grappling with teaching Uppers English literature. Some of them catch me out. ‘What do you think Larkin means when he describes work as a “toad”, sir?’ Good question. Warty? Slimy? Buried under rocks? I’ve taken the idea of playing music in lessons into Uppers while they write. Have still to work out whether the older pupils find it a distraction – a snigger? – rather than a help. ‘It’s by someone called Michael Hedges.’…

Part 30 – Given Circumstances

26 June 2018

September 1979. Year three.

I’m at my first Staff Meeting in Uppers. There’s gentle idle chatter as we wait. I’m sat next to Biggles who leans in close. ‘Saw the Master earlier. Looked majorly stressed. We could see fireworks this morning.’

Oh? I peep down to the front of the lecture theatre, where the Big Cheese is checking his watch, eyes flicking to the door where the staff must enter. It swings open and BJ walks in.

‘Have you got a death wish?’ It’s The Big Cheese, shouting, red in face, eyes bulging. All conversation comes to an abrupt end….

Part 29 – Given Circumstances

19 June 2018

I’ve just returned from a cricket match at some school across the county. My team’s off to a bright start; two emphatic wins and a good draw.

I’ve overheard God Like Status talking to Biggles on the boundary at our last home match. ‘Some decent cricketers here. Well drilled and keen.’

Today’s been warm and sunny. Proper cricket weather. In an attempt to get over the terrible news of Keith Moon’s death, I’ve also been into town at the weekend and bought a new stereo system…

Part 28 – Given Circumstances

12 June 2018

The second half of Lent term starts with an Extraordinary Staff Meeting called by The Big Cheese. ‘What’s it all about?’ I ask Biggles when we meet up the night before at the pub.

He shrugs, poring over the jukebox. ‘Search me.’ Then punches buttons. ‘About time they refreshed this. Haven’t heard this for a while though. Happy music for Spring.’

We find seats as Sergio Mendes kicks in.

“…the moon is like a tangerine…”

Ha! They don’t write lyrics like that now!

Part 27 – Given Circumstances

12 June 2018

Over half term back at home, I receive a small package in the post.

‘Someone’s got nice handwriting,’ says mum.

Opening it, three recognisable letters fall out. There’s a message attached. “Thought you might like these back.” And a photo, of a tanned smiling Venus, under an umbrella, honey hair to her shoulders, in a pair of loose fitting black trousers, gathered at the ankle above high heels, bare brown midriff and plunge black top under a short red jacket, standing by a suitcase outside “The Acropolis Taverna.” On the wall, the clock reads nine o’ clock…

Part 26 – Given Circumstances

30 May 2018

February 1979.

“Darkheart” has come and gone. Cheers and whistles. ‘More!’ Miss Dazzle hugging me. Biggles all smiles. Matron ecstatic. Spicy red faced, pumping my hand.

‘Fuckin’ great,’ says BJ, loading the pipe back at Walnut Avenue. ‘Here. Got my girlfriend to send us some stuff. Put some music on then. Your choice.’

On with some Peter Frampton. “Do You Feel Like I Do?”…