Bitterne Parker

Bitterne Parker: Dan O’Farrell


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Dan O’Farrell was born in Southampton in 1970. He went to school in Bitterne Park at St Mary’s College and has now, “somewhat bizarrely” returned there to teach. He sings, plays guitar and writes songs in local band Accrington Stanley. The group had two of their albums listed in the first 100 of the John Peel archive.

The Qs & the As

Why Bitterne Park?

I think it’s one of the most interesting corners of Southampton. It has a bit of character and crazy geography. Riverside Park is ace and being near the water is endlessly interesting.

What’s your earliest memory of the area?

I went to school at St Mary’s College – I was brought up in Shirley. I remember passing the Triangle every day on the number 14 bus from age 11 to 18.

How could it (the area – or indeed your memories) be better?

More pubs with more music. We’ve had some good nights at The Bitterne Park Hotel, although we (Accrington Stanley) haven’t played there since the change in management, and The Butchers’ Hook sounds amazing, but I wish there were one or two more Bitterne Park pubs so that more music could happen around the Triangle.

Tell us something we probably didn’t know already about Bitterne Park

The monks at St Mary’s College fled persecution in France and took over the site on Midanbury Lane in the early 1900s, opening the school in 1922. There’s some fascinating history there.

What’s good about Southampton?

Small enough to be friendly, big enough to support some culture. It has its frustrations, of course, but I really enjoyed growing up here and felt myself drawn back after three years in Manchester and 10 years in London.

Points for improvement?

The city could use more culture and less chain-pubs. Make something of the coast line, for heaven’s sake.

What’s your big interest in life?

Music – particularly song-writing. I’ve done it since I was about ten. Can’t seem to stop. Even if no-one’s interested. Tragic, really.

How do you put bread on your table?

Teaching – secondary English. Buys half-decent pitta, if not foccacia.

What has your career taught you?

Patience! Working with teenagers stops you getting too grumpy, generally. You’re only ever seconds away from the next piece of preposterous banter.

What really gets your goat?

The rise of UKIP and all casual bigotry.

How do you relax?

Reading books/writing songs. I have three children so relaxation is a relative concept.

What’s your favourite dish?

I’d like to say something classy, but I really like a doner kebab & chips after beer. Sorry.

Which is your favourite pub?

The Dolphin in St Denys. Don’t make it there so often anymore, but always like the feel of the place, especially on a winter’s night with the fires burning.

Who do you listen to?           

This week: some 50s doo-wop. Last week: Bombay Bicycle Club. Week before: Beck... Next week? Who knows?

Can you recommend a really good read?

I’m near the end of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I’m loving it. Bewitching, weird, clever and human.

What’s a great day out?

I went to the Moscow State Circus at Mayflower Park recently, under protest. It was unexpectedly brilliant. I’d probably recommend a long walk in the forest (Minstead maybe), pub lunch, trip to the circus, see some bands at Talking Heads or the Joiners, quick pint at the Dolphin and a kebab on the way home.

Tell us a secret

Libraries let you read books for free. Tell a friend.

Tell us a joke

I can only remember one joke at a time. Sadly, it’s this one, that I made up to make my daughter laugh:

Knock knock

Who’s there?


Europe who?

No, you’re a poo.


Thanks so much for taking part!

Tune in next time when another Bitterne Parker answers our searching questions. But before then, do you know a Bitterne Parker we really should feature? If so, please nominate them by emailing us using the contact form, and we'll do our best. No promises, mind.

You can see and hear Dan playing a track on our last live podcast here, and hear the whole show (through the big microphones) from this link with Accrington Stanley’s set starting at around 58 minutes in. Accrington Stanley’s website is here. 

Read about other Bitterne Parkers

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