Like the Viking kings
of olden times, Jeff Parkes has the song of the sea surging in his blood. Born
in the fishing centre of
England, to a schoolmaster and a selkie (his mum has never denied this), Jeff
has trained his heart in the ways of the tide, and his spirit in the ways of
For as long as I can remember, he says,
I've been fascinated by the trawlers that regularly left for the distant
grounds around Iceland and Norway. As a boy I'd take my bike down to the fish
dock and watch them steam out through the lock gates, or return with their
holds full of fish (if they were lucky). Then, one day, having left school, I
did more than watch. I went to the office of a trawler owner and signed on. Mum
and Dad were horrified. So was a neighbour who had the sad task of informing
relatives whenever a boat was lost or an individual trawlerman killed. Three
had gone down within a few days (60+ men lost) only a few weeks earlier.
However, and the proof is typing this, all was well and I returned safe and
sound with a hold full of fish!
Jeff has given time to the
sea, to the stage, and to the fascinating, never-ending search for the stories
of the men and women who were sentenced to transportation
from Britain to the far away convict colonies across the oceans. His book on
this subject, BEYOND THE
SEAS can be ordered through Amazon.co.uk or through
Jail Museum in Argyll, Scotland.
Jeff has worn the skin of an actor,
a stage manager, a director, an author of numerous short stories and books, and
chief guide at the historic Inveraray
Jail, where his soul companion, Irene (also an accomplished actress,
dancer, costumer, and history guide Matron at the
Jail) used to lock him away as a
and feed him broth and haggis, if he behaved. He later escaped to become the
man with the keys Warder and was pleased to lock up
anyone who wandered into the cells. Jeff has since retired from the jail to
devote more time to adventuring. His and Irene's love for other cultures and
zest for life have taken them to China, Thailand, Russia, the 14,000-foot peaks
of America, and points beyond.
the mysterious, romantic landscape where long-forgotten witches performed their
winter solstice offerings to the sea gods and where the ghost of the immortal
Neil Munro wanders still.
This is the land of the mighty
Campbell who vanquished the
of Dunderave and put the MacDonald to fire and
sword. This ancient landscape of broad-shouldered mountains and misty lochs
and deep tangled glens where the red deer roam, is dotted with Neolithic tombs,
mossy kirks with mossier grave slabs, haunted croft houses, and vine-choked
castle ruins a place of inspiration, a land for the poet's eye.
Yet Jeff's inspiration comes from many
places, including the American West, which spawned his love for cowboys and
cwazy wabbits. He can conjure the drawl and walk the walk of John
Wayne, and almost don the skin, except the Duke never had the regal
countenance of a Viking king... although once upon a time in Ridgway, Colorado,
USA, Jeff wandered out of the True Grit and for one brief bowlegged moment,
made the Duke live again. And nobody shot him.
Come see what his flock
of swans is hiding!
Compassion, Understanding, Respect
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