And so Parky is parked and another peg from the past
Falls untethered. One more wind-torn winner is wasted
And we lose one more emblem – after so many this year
As time peels the standards that I and those of my age
Still recall as having so many more layers to them.  
Entertainment when I grew up was a journey.
The method by which meaning feels and makes its way
Through the dark of unknown fact and exposure.
Revelation then came through instinct and was not
Something framed, or designed; for as this former journalist
Probed, famous faces fell open, and for the first time,
Admission could be television taught from their minds.  
From Cudworth to Cook, Connolly, Crawford and Cagney,
Parkinson praised and raised conversation when at his prime
Past the alps, before later years and commercial concerns
Caked and covered, and diminishing returns reduced standards
To a place where Meg Ryan in glare alone sought his scalp. 
There had also been Dame Helen Mirren before, admonishing him
For lust’s levers, and Rod hull through Emu, pressing every
Warning button he had. But there was also Shirley MacLaine
Who would have bedded him just by smiling. For such a stare
Restores Eunuchs, or causes the most chaste of monks to go mad.
Parkinson had charm, ease and grit. As well as that very northern
Word; gumption, while at one time defining what is clearly now
A lost art. Naked intelligence on the screen coupled with the kind
Of common sense folk remember. A man of his time, Michel mastered
The means by which class creates charts – for progress and change,
Despite how his later shows settled for the genteel nudging
Of product, and the sometimes tepid retreading of reminiscence
Sliding inside anecdote. And yet he could include everyone
From Peter Kay to Jacob Bronowski; from Sting to James Stewart,
To something close to Larry Adler’s last note. From Orson Welles
To Coldplay and Jamie Cullum; from Ustinov down to Kylie,
From Ben Elton to Alan Bennett, with Miller and Moore,
Peter C. Everyone in the book from the Bodleian back to Oxfam;
As sat in that seat were presented the beauties each ages’ hearts
Yearned to see; Bergman, Bacall, Racquel Welch, and Liz Taylor,
Bette Davis; old, caustic and sharp as a blade near the eye,
As in Bunuel’s famous film. Not that Bunuel ever made it.
Perhaps Ingmar made it, as did Ingrid of course. Can’t think why.
The lack of language no doubt. But then today’s modern English
Speakers lack language. Or rather the means by which language
As carrying craft defines sea, in both size and shape,
Not to mention the majesty within the substantial. We lack it now.
And yet Michael made it, as he sourced a universal strain
From each ‘Me.’ Billy Connolly’s dead wife joke was one
Of the 1970s brightest moments. Bronowski on Auschwitz,
One of its most profound. Perlman and Adler’s violin and harmonica
Summertime, one of its most sublime. It sends shivers,
That Mohammed Ali’s not with us, and that Kenneth Williams
Has now decades past gone to ground. As has the man
Who hosted the world for those in it. From close to Barnsley,
This Barnum for the Circus within every fan has led
His former lions within and left those of us who remember
A time when the celebrated were still partly myths
With no plan on how to apprise and resist the real
Wrapped around us. Parkinson was flesh. Now, its plastic
Which surrounds mystery. At 88 years of age, we could see
His voice and face gently fading. God’s interviewees
Change their channel. As does their investigative friend.
The screen flickers and then static resumes. Spirits see.
                                   David Erdos 18/8/23

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One Response to PARKED

    1. David, a great eulogy and tribute to a master of his craft. One who was saved from the Pit, in order to mine his own seam of gold, elsewhere.

      Comment by Malcolm Ritchie on 19 August, 2023 at 9:45 am

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