Caravan, The Hungry Years and all that jazz

An evening of jazz in memory of Farnham journalists Jean and Ted Parratt

There will be an evening of jazz at St Mark’s Church, Hale, on Saturday, May 4 in memory of Jean and Ted Parratt, local journalists and parents of Wendy Edwards, a licensed lay reader in the parish.

‘Caravan Jazz on a May Evening’, which will begin at 7.30pm, will feature songs by Django Reinhardt, Nat ‘King’ Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller and others, and will recall the time that Ted and Jean and their young children would enjoy jazz songs in the caravan which was their home in Lincolnshire. Ted drew the picture of their first caravan – reproduced above – just before Wendy’s birth.

From her birth in October 1957 to the age of four, Wendy and her brother and sister, Mark and Debbie, lived with Jean and Ted in various sized caravans as the family grew.

By day, Ted was doing his National Service in the RAF, but in the evenings back in the caravan with Jean and the children, he played jazz on his guitar, sometimes accompanied by his best friend, Terry Blackwell. On other nights, Jean’s walnut-cased radiogram would be tuned in, often to a jazz station.

Wendy has been researching her parents’ early life and recalls that her mother: “cared wonderfully well for us through the changing seasons, making potato soup with very few potatoes (we were very challenged financially) but always ensuring we were well fed and well loved. My mother enjoyed the jazz too in the evenings and ‘made do and mended’ the family’s clothes, while jazz melodies and rhythms lullabied us children to sleep.”

Jean and Ted worked for many years as journalists and photographers on first the Surrey & Hants News and then The Farnham Diary, with Ted also working for the Farnham Herald, and Jean busy writing local history books and giving talks, particularly inspiring many young people to discover more about the past. Jean died in 2016 and Ted in 2018.

On May 4, as well as the jazz, Wendy will share some of her knowledge and photographs of the early years. She says: “My mother called that time The Hungry Years, but they both believed these were the happiest in their 60-year-long marriage.”

Joining Wendy on the evening will be Frances Whewell on keyboard and Teddy’s Café Bar Jazzmen and other talented vocalists.  A light supper is included but bring your own drinks.

Admission is free but all donations are welcome for the Kitty Milroy Murals Fund at St. Mark’s Church. However, Wendy adds: “If, like Jean and Ted in The Hungry Years, you cannot afford to donate anything, please do join us anyway as all are very welcome indeed!”

To book your place, call Wendy Edwards on 07740 082460.

 

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