Janet Jones (nee Reed) was Charles’ personal assistant at the BBC around 1963/4. She now lives near Hereford, and attended the launch of the film “Searching for the Travelling People” at the Courtyard Theatre on Monday 26 February 2018.
Trustees Ian Parr, Sara Parker and Pam Bishop were also at the launch, and were delighted to make initial contact with Janet. They invited her to the Charles Parker Day at the British Library in London and to the AGM in Birmingham, but she was not able to make either date. Ian therefore arranged for her to visit the Archive in Birmingham with him on 10 May, with the help of Corinna Rayner and her staff, who ensured they had a smooth passage to start the journey into aspects of the Archive not often visited.
Janet had much to say about Charles, who she recalls with much affection and the influence he had upon her life after she left the BBC, still in her twenties. A couple of things came to light during the visit:
- “Jim” Bailey, as she was known, was a tape editor during Janet’s time as PA and certainly did much of the work on The Fight Game and The Travelling People as well as much else. Janet is quite adamant about her importance in the Radio Ballads.
- During a visit Janet made with Charles to do field recordings for The Travelling People at Brough Fair, they stopped at Bolton, Lancashire, on the way to see Pat Short. In the book “Set Into Song” Peter Cox recalls that her husband was an engineer and Pat was one of those sufferers from polio featured in The Body Blow. He goes on to say that Charles tried to get acceptance for a device Pat’s husband had made to help her type even though in an iron lung. Janet explains that it went much further than that. Pat actually typed many of the transcripts of the Radio Ballads.
- A programme little referred to these days, but made in 23 quarter hour episodes during the making of “The Fight Game”, is “The Life of Elsie Rosenfield”. Broadcast in the late evening, the series is Elsie’s description of her life under the Nazis and later in the Midlands as someone of Jewish and Christian background. There is no narrative, very little music.
- Janet will revisit the Library to listen to some of the recordings as well as to follow up other aspects of her time with the BBC.
What Janet has to say about working with Charles needs to be recorded and added to the archive – extracts could fill several editions of the Trust’s Actuality magazine. We hope some recordings can be made before the next Charles Parker Day, at which Janet will be an honoured guest.
The Trust wishes to express its thanks to Janet for her time and her interest.