I was in bed on Monday evening at 11pm, listening to Michael Parkinson, that dapper old guy of Chat Show fame who, I had believed, had faded into limbo and thence to move to Commercials selling us oldies a tiny Insurance [just enough to cover our funeral expenses, removing one more problem from our nearest and dearest in their hour of sorrow].
I've always had a soft spot for our Michael; he clung to his Yorkshire accent, allowed his full head of hair to silver and then turn white, never gained an ounce of weight - and, though his twinkling eyes promised a flirt, seems always to have remained true to his Mary. But mainly it was because my music was his music- the big Band Sound and every singer who ever sung the American Songbook. His knowledge is encyclopaedic [thank the Lord and Google for spell check] and his passion unabated.
For years and years he hosted a Sunday afternoon show and BBC 2 and it was a must for me. Then the heads of 'Knowing what is good for us' gave his show to another and the Big Bands gave way to pop and I gave up.
The only time I see him now is when he is promising a free gift for 'Cover' [only a few quid a month and, after two years all funeral costs will be paid.] Shame really; for this man who had them all on his Saturday night show-most of his heroes from Sammy Davis to Mohammed Ali, Bette Midler to Lauren Bacall. then fade out.
But, without my noticing he is back, from eleven to midnight every Monday evening and I am ecstatic, because now I can have my music twice a week. David Jacobs, who must be knocking ninety is on on Sunday evenings eleven to midnight and he too plays my kind of music.
So, as I was saying, there I was, listening to Michael, and he had already pleased me with the Earl, the Duke and the Guvner, with Ella and Peggy and the Count, when, almost at the end played two 'records' of the great Buddy Greco. This man has it all as far as I'm concerned, not that my love for Francis Albert is diminished; he is the voice, and Sammy was the all round song and dance man. Tony Bennet still scares me; will he get that impossible high note? [and he always does, even now] but to me Buddy Greco had a dangerous edge. He looked dangerous with that boxers face; he played piano with and for the best and he sang all over the place but always came home in time and on note.
'You might be interested to know' said Michael, at the end of the second record of Buddy simply playing jazz piano, '...that Buddy is now in his late eighties, still plays and still sings in Gigs around his home. And,I bet you never thought he would be living here in England, in Kent...' At this point I sat up in bed almost losing my earphones. 'in W......on sea.'
Oh my word! The great marvellous Buddy Greco lives ten miles up the coast from me! Not in Hollywood or Carmel or Las Vegas or New York, but in a tiny seaside town on the Kent coast. And he still performs.
I switched off my radio and closed my eyes, picturing myself at one of his concerts and, with the power of my very vivid imagination saw the room, the piano and the man himself, unchanged, still excitingly dangerous [to me he was, though probably is and has always been a pussy cat] I saw all the white heads in the audience, all the Veet smooth chins, and went to sleep to him playing and singing just to me.