I was very pleased recently to be contacted by John
Waterhouse, who knew Geoffrey Parkinson in the course of
his work. John has supplied the following biographical notes; I'm grateful for his permission to use them.
I've found that GP is an excellent playwright,
and although his work can be hilariously funny ( as in The Nonconforming
Nonconformist, or The Cleverest Man at Oxford) some of his plays have
a much darker side. (ND)
Now: over to John..........
........Geoffrey was employed as a probation officer by the Inner London Probation Service for over 30 years. He took pride in remaining unpromoted (he was at one time the longest serving main grade officer in the probation service). He grew up in Epsom, Surrey, where he continued to live (as a sort of suburban guerrilla) and, as a young man, attended the local Methodist church. He said that some of the material for one of his plays was drawn from this experience.
Geoffrey wrote a column for the now defunct journal ‘New Society’ under the byeline ‘Tailgunner Parkinson’ From this vantage point he took potshots at all and sundry. He also contributed provocative articles to other journals and the press frequently asked for his views on dealing with offenders. He was a thorn in the flesh of his line managers, was suspended for a time, and eventually banished to the Woolwich office as far away from HQ as possible.
Geoffrey is something of a legend in the Probation Service and some will remember him more fondly than others He was a complex man, highly amusing in conversation and blessed with a vivid imagination and sometimes acid tongue. He had a genuine commitment to work with offenders who he saw as more in need of help than punishment.
note added by N.D., Aug. 2004 - Geoffrey is in his late 70s, and
remains a keen writer.
GEOFFREY PARKINSON: PLAYS (compiled by B.Pike/ND)
29.11.72 How I came to help people 50m
28.7.76 Put Down to Experience 65m
8.7.77 A book from Beelzebub 60m
18.11.77 The secret life of Geoffrey Peppitt
31.7.74 The nonconforming nonconformist*
8.6.78 Korsakoff's Psychosis* 60m
24.1.80 The Annunciation 60m
11.6.83 The Cleverest Man at Oxford* 75m SNT
7.3.88 The messiah of William Hamlet*
10.10.90 Auntie Jane* 45m
26.2.91 The newsvendor*
18.3.93 The Birdwheel* 60m
22.9.94 The Peer Gynt of Victoria St.* 60m
The asterisked plays are know to exist in collections within VRPCC
THE NONCONFORMING NONCONFORMIST, 1977
A very entertaining play with Geoffrey Parkinson as one of the
characters...(autobiographical?); Geoffrey Beevers played the adult
Geoffrey Parkinson, and Judy Bennett played Parkinson as a boy, with
Miriam Margolyes as mother, an old lunatic and a little girl; Stephen
Thorne as Mr. Armitage, Diana Olsen as Mrs. Armitage, Mrs. Martin and
another little girl; Hilda Schroder was Joanne, Miss Grey, and several
more children; William Eedle was the minister and John as a man;
Ian Sharrock was John as a boy. Timoth Bateson was grandfather and
Mr. Booth. Carole Boyd was Sybil, David Timpson was Alec and Mr. Tilley,
Shaun Arnold was father, and Christian Thorne was Dick. Directed by
Shaun McLaughlin. note... interesting information about this play on Shaun's site:
With Margot Boyd, Michael Harbour, Steve Hodson, John Rye,
June Barry, Cornelius Garrett, Hilda Schroeder, Audrey Noble;
also starring Andrew Hilton, Julia Swift, Jo Anderson.
Directed by Shaun McLoughlin. Radio 4. Another play set in an
institution, and they're all suffering from.........
THE ANNUNCIATION.... 1980
Graham and Myra are a childless couple in early middle-age, living a quiet, uninspiring life in a London suburb. Until one day a series of curious events commence that make Myra begin to believe that she's been chosen for something special - by God. Starring Michael Gambon as Graham, Eva Stuart as Myra and Peter Howell as the Vicar. Produced by Cherry Cookson.
THE CLEVEREST MAN AT OXFORD, 1983
Another play with Geoffrey Parkinson as one of the characters...
Geoffrey Beevers played Geoffrey Parkinson, studying at a college in
Oxford for a diploma amongst a collection of misfits... with Julia Hills as
Esther, Meg Davies as Lizzie, with Nigel Anthony, Patrick Malahide,
Christian Rodska, Geoffrey Bateman, Peter Copley, Bill Wallis, Peggy-Ann
Wood, Joe Anderson, Nina Holloway, Daphne Herd, David Ponting, Victoria
Wickes, Michael Drew. Directed in Bristol by Shaun McLaughlin.
THE MESSIAH OF WILLIAM HAMLET, c1988
Years since I heard this, so can no longer remember the plot, but
this is darker in content than the "Parkinson" plays...stars
William Nye as Rufus Love, Mary Wimbush as his mother, Anthony
Jephson as Tom, Steve Hodson as Peter, John Bott as the vicar, Joan
Matheson as Mrs. Jarvis, Eva Stewart as Miss Salter, with Pater Baldwin,
John Webb, Norman Bird, Christopher Scott as the probation officer, Michael
Tudor Barnes, John Baddeley, Barbara Hicks, Brenda Kaye, Garrard Green,
Gordon Reed, Alan Dudley, Hilda Kreisman, Zela Clarke, Caroline Gruber.
Directed by Cherry Cookson.
AUNTIE JANE 1990
A strict household; a strict routine...the children do as they're
told, and so does father...then Auntie Jane appears, and there is a
Eedle played Hugh, Luke Robertson the younger Hugh; Andrew Sachs was
father, June Barrie was mother, Elizabeth Mansfield was Jane, Bill Wallis
was Mr. Walters, Christian Rodska was Mr. Herbert, Jenny Hough was
Mrs. Herbert, with Michael Ford and David Bannerman. Directed in
Bristol by Shaun McLaughlin.
THE NEWSVENDOR 1991
A black comedy, though perhaps some would not class it as a comedy...
Mr. Hazlett nurses his obsessions: model soldiers, his mother's death,
and now the planning of a murder. The newsvendor is such a friendly
chap; why does Mr. Hazlett take such a dislike to him? Stars Charles
Kay as Mr. Hazlett,
James Grout as the newsvendor, Ann Jameson as Mrs. Willets,
Garard Green as the cemetery keeper, Simon Treves as Mr.
Hazlett's father as a young man, Frederick
Treves as Mr. Hazlett's father as an old man,
Jenny Howe as Miss Williams and Mr. Hazlett's mother, Elizabeth
Kelly as the newsvendor's wife, Oriel Smith as the nurse and Mr. Hazlett
as a boy. Directed by Alison Hindell.
THE BIRDWHEEL 1993
Cannot remember the plot, but it's a domestic / social story
involving schoolchildren... the casting is as follows: Simon
Morgan as Amberley, Tom Lawrence as Upton, Christian
Rodska as Mr. Giddings, Geofrey Beevers as the narrator, Bonnie Hurran
as Minty, Steve Hodson as Professor Upton, Melinda Walker as Mrs.
Upton, Michael Drew as the English master, Linda Bolam was matron,
Christie Jennings as the nurse, with Ben Conrad, Paul Purvis and
Jeremy Walters. Directed in Bristol by Shaun McLaughlin.
THE PEER GYNT OF VICTORIA STREET 1994
The characters in this play are down-and-outs and their
bottles of cider...set near Victoria Station; a thoughtful and
entertaining treatment of
a difficult subject...stars
Steve Hodson as Eddie, Christian Rodska as Captain Jack, Bob
Doherty as Mr. Williams and Irish, Richard Pearce was Lucky, Gillian
Goodman was Jean, Joe Vera was Jamaica, Simon Carter was the Evangelist,
with Andy Hockley, Robert Brook, Patricia Gallimore, Jane MacDowell;
directed at Pebble Mill by Shaun McLaughlin.
THE CONVERSION OF JACK TUPPER 1996
22 Feb 96: Jack Tupper has promised not to get drunk, beat up his girlfriend or steal fags from the comer shop when he gets out of prison. Jack: Christian Rodska
Kitty: Jenny Funnell,
Eddie: Steve Hodson,
Thurgood: Bill Wallis,
Mr.Hilton: Simon Carter, with June Barrie, Renu Setna, William Eedle, Cornelius Garrett and Paul Webster. Producer Shaun MacLoughlin.
Nigel Deacon, Diversity website.
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