Singing pensioner hopes to add new twist to Robin Hood legend
His grandmother was on the stage as singer and comedienne Betty North. And his mother Adele followed in her footsteps as a singer and writer of music.
Now, belatedly at the ripe old age of 81, Peter Parsons is keeping the family tradition alive -- and hoping to add a new twist to the legends of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest at the same time.
For Peter has written a musical play, complete with CD and manuscript to go with the story, about how Robin Hood would fare if he came back to the Forest, and Nottingham, to face modern-day Britain.
And he is hoping that small theatre groups or local schools will come forward to adapt his work and turn it into a proper production that can entertain families and youngsters for many years to come.
“It is a first because no-one has ever brought Robin Hood into the 21st century, not even the American film industry,” said Peter, who lives in Beechdale, Nottingham.
“It would be another attraction to add to the Robin Hood story, and I am sure it would provoke a lot of interest.
“To get it off the ground, I would like schools or acting groups to apply for the script. It is only about half-and-hour long, so it would be an ideal play for teachers, children at schools or budding actors to perform in and around the Mansfield and Ashfield area, close to the home of Robin Hood.”
Peter has enjoyed a remarkably varied career, which has ranged from working on his own hot dog and hamburger stall in Nottingham and schooling horses for former racing trainer Frank Coton at Epperstone to 25 years as an operating theatre technician at a hospital in his native south before retiring.
He turned to music as a form of therapy after a bitter business dispute with his daughter that left him out of pocket and down in the dumps.
“The sadness drove me to music, and I started to create my own songs, which are all on YouTube as videos or available through iTunes and Amazon.
“I don’t play instruments but, like my mother and grandmother, I am gifted in that I get the melody and can put words to it. Then a studio gives musical backing to my melody. I have written about 15 songs.”
One of the first of those catchy songs was ‘The Return of Robin Hood’, which featured his second wife Irene, whom he married in 2002 but who sadly died last year. This song and video gave him the idea for the current play.
Other songs and videos have included one about Brexit, which has attracted 53,000 views, and two others that reflect his love for and background in greyhound racing.
Peter’s grandfather William and father Eric both trained greyhounds, and he met his first wife at Nottingham Greyhound Stadium. So it was fitting that when he wrote ‘Gone To The Dogs’ and ‘A Dog On Christmas Day’, starring his own pet greyhound, Kerry, the stadium asked him to go along to promote them at a meeting earlier this year. They even named a race after him and asked him to present the trophy to the winner. In return, he donated all proceeds from his songs to the Greyhound Trust for retired dogs.
“I do all the singing and play most of the parts on the videos,” Peter explained. “They’re only done on a small budget, but they have proved very popular. I have had quite a few encouraging comments.”
Nowhere more enthusiastically have those comments been made than in Newcastle, where Peter is revered as something of an icon after recording one of the few songs, ‘Blaydon Races’ excepted, that pays specific homage to the city.
‘Geordie Land’ was actually penned by his mum Adele Parsons way back in the 1940s and just before her death at the age of 87 in 2002, she made him promise that, one day, he would record it.
“It was very emotional doing it,” said Peter. “She loved Newcastle and loved singing and always used to sing it.
“I gave it a more commercial and modern feel and turned it into more of a football song because she always used to talk about the football team and Alan Shearer. It would be nice to hear it played one day at St James’s Park.”
For now, though, Peter’s focus is more on Sherwood Forest and Robin Hood than Newcastle United and Alan Shearer.
“People often wonder what it would be like if Robin Hood was living today,” he said. “Well, my play shows what he would encounter and what people would think of him now.
“It starts with Robin Hood and Maid Marian waking up on a bench in the middle of Nottingham......”
To find out the rest of the story and to realise the creator’s dream of turning it into a fully-fledged production, you’d better get in touch with Peter. Just ring him on 0115 8750228 or e-mail him at [email protected]