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Listen to Your Parents by Benjamin Zephaniah

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BBC Radio 7, 23 October 2009
 
Constructed as a monologue from an 11-year-old boy's (James Smith's) point of view, Listen to Your Parents told the story of a football crazy youngster coping with domestic violence. Although outwardly an upstanding member of the community, his father (Burt Caesar) expects total from his family, and when he did not receive it, he simply lashes out at his wife (Flo Wilson). The punishment is sporadic at first, but as time passes, so his violence becomes more regular. To hear and yet not see such treatment proves particularly disturbing; like the boy (who was always sent to his bedroom before the violence began), we listened fearfully to what was happening.
 
As a form of self-defence the boy creates a fantasy world circumscribed by the worlds of school and the training ground, in which he can achieve his aim of playing for Aston Villa. Initially the signs seem favourable, as he performs well enough to be invited for trials at the local level. However family affairs get in the way: the father arbitrarily decides to move, even though the fixed date conflicts with the date of the trials. The boy quite naturally dismisses his father as a boor who thinks of no one except himself.
 
Matters come to a head one evening, when the father tries his familiar strategy of beating his wife into submission. This time
his wife is ready for him - and eventually kills him. Through no fault of his own the boy is left with nothing but pipe-dreams of playing professional football while communicating his thoughts through poetry.
 
Part-autobiographical, part-harrowing evocation of the limited horizons available for even the most talented children, Listen to Your Parents was a stark, uncompromising piece of work.