David Parkin on hipsters in Halifax, Prince Naseem boxing clever and discovering a surprising lookalike

David Parkin on hipsters in Halifax, Prince Naseem boxing clever and discovering a surprising lookalike

IT’S official! That definitive guide to all things trendy, The Guardian, has declared that Halifax is the ‘Shoreditch of the North’. In my younger days The Guardian was the newspaper read by Birkenstock-wearing teachers and social workers and certainly couldn’t be termed trendy. Nowadays it is popular with those who work in the arts, media and politics. It’s dating service is very popular and a friend of mine who lives in London met his now wife on it. I once considered the Guardian Soulmates dating site but I had concerns about the foot hygiene of potential matches. Anyway, back to Halifax and its newly-declared status as the hipster capital of Northern England. I wonder how many people who live in the Calderdale town welcome this trendy title? Not that many, I suspect. If you’ve visited Shoreditch in recent years it has undergone something of a gentrification from a working class area in East London to a trendy hub for digital and technology businesses. You can’t move for long beards, carefully-crafted lop-sided slicked haircuts, tattoos, check shirts and tight jeans. They all think they have an individual look and I’d compliment them on that if they didn’t all look the same. As you might expect, a myriad of coffee bars, rum shacks and street food kitchens have sprung up to serve this hipster community in the Borough of Hackney. But it didn’t all happen overnight and it will take some time for Halifax to undergo its renaissance into a Northern hipster hub. In the meantime make the most of a visit to what is an attractive, down-to-earth town with the...
David Parkin finds out why all the world is a stage and ponders his demise

David Parkin finds out why all the world is a stage and ponders his demise

ONE of our most celebrated Shakespearean actors was the rather surprise guest speaker at last week’s Harrogate Business Lunch. Simon Callow followed in the footsteps of entertaining and inspiring raconteurs including Brian Blessed, Sir Matthew Pinsent…and Barry from Eastenders. Mind you, I don’t think anyone else could get the reaction he did just by shouting: “Janine!” I mentioned a couple of months ago how I had been invited to the lunch by Philip Jordan, corporate partner at law firm Ward Hadaway. At the time I misheard who the guest speaker was and thought it was X Factor guru Simon Cowell, which Phil didn’t appreciate as he is a big fan of Simon Callow’s work. I have to say I didn’t realise Phil had a theatrical bent, but then given he is from Hull I’d imagine he’s kept it hidden for years. Perhaps expecting lots of ‘luvvie’ stories from the stage, I went along to the Pavilions in Harrogate not expecting much. But Simon Callow was hugely entertaining with a dry, self-deprecating sense of humour and, clearly, an appreciation of the earthier elements of British TV and theatre. Not much of an academic, his career in the theatre began when he blagged a job working in the box office at the Old Vic theatre after writing a fan letter to Sir Laurence Olivier who was artistic director of the National Theatre. Inspired by what he saw on the stage at the Old Vic, he went on to become an actor, but told the audience that his early memories were not of treading the boards rubbing shoulders with our great thespians....
David Parkin on a reality rocket, the business of food and drink and Victoria’s secret

David Parkin on a reality rocket, the business of food and drink and Victoria’s secret

HOW times have changed. In my youth, if you were told that an exotically-named billionaire was planning to launch a rocket to the moon that was twice as powerful as anything sent before it into space, you’d have probably thought it was the fantastical plot of the next James Bond film starring Roger Moore. But 1970s fantasy became millennial reality this week when American entrepreneur Elon Musk launched his rocket, the Falcon Heavy into space. Not only that but the rocket – which is capable of carrying a payload of 64 tonnes, equivalent to five double-decker buses – was carrying Musk’s own red Tesla sports car (he is the founder of the electric car manufacturer) with a space-suited mannequin at the wheel and David Bowie’s Space Oddity playing on a loop on the car’s stereo. In the future it is said that the Falcon Heavy could transport bigger satellites and take large robots to the surface of Mars and other planets such as Saturn and Jupiter and their moons. Now the rocket is in orbit above the Earth, Nasa has officially designated the California-built cherry red Tesla it is carrying and its dummy driver as a “celestial object”. Even Ian Fleming wouldn’t have pushed his luck with a plot like that. In the 1979 film Moonraker James Bond is sent to investigate the theft of a space shuttle which leads him to Hugo Drax, who manufactured the shuttle and harbours a plan to wipe out the world’s population and recreate humanity with a master race on the moon. I don’t think I’m ruining the story for you if I...
David Parkin on Power, the Presidents Club and the Big Ticket bash

David Parkin on Power, the Presidents Club and the Big Ticket bash

WHO is the most powerful person in Yorkshire? I’ll give you three guesses. You want a few clues? OK try these. Our Power Person was born in Lancashire, grew up in Bristol and lives in the West Midlands. No idea? It’s Sajid Javid, the Conservative MP for Bromsgrove and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. He was named this week as top of the Power 100 by regional business magazine Insider because it is he who will have the final say on devolution deals in Yorkshire. So as soon as Javid signs off the devolution deals on the table for the region does that take him out of the Power list? He’s not the most charismatic or high profile of politicians and, before this, probably wouldn’t have made the top 10 of biggest influencers in Bromsgrove. But if he can find a way to get Yorkshire devolution agreed then he deserves plenty of credit. However that doesn’t look to be particularly close given 18 of Yorkshire’s local authorities are committed to a ‘One Yorkshire’ plan while the remaining two – Sheffield and Rotherham – have had a devolution deal for Sheffield City Region already agreed by the Government, paving the way for an elected mayor in that part of South Yorkshire. Negotiations are ongoing and while you might think the size and will of the 18 would overcome the resistance of the two, the advantage that Sheffield and Rotherham have is that they, like teenagers doing their GCSEs, actually read the exam paper on devolution set by the Government. It clearly stated it wanted city...
David Parkin breaks new ground, ponders a Boris bridge and competes with panto royalty

David Parkin breaks new ground, ponders a Boris bridge and competes with panto royalty

IF you are looking for inspiration, ambition, fortitude, hope and positivity, then a muddy patch of grass next to a multi-storey car park on a chilly Monday morning in January is a strange place to find it. But I found all that and more at the ground-breaking event for the new Maggie’s Yorkshire cancer centre at St James’ Hospital in Leeds this week. I’m lucky to be on the campaign board helping raise the money for the new centre, which will help and support cancer sufferers and their families. Led by Martin Jenkins, the former head of Deloitte in Yorkshire and the North East who has recently joined vehicle leasing business Zenith, the fundraising has already reached over £5m towards a target of £6m, Work began this week on building the centre, a beautifully designed building by renowned architects Heatherwick Studio. How this oasis of support, calm and warmth will be wedged into the sloping grassy triangle in front of the hospital’s Bexley cancer wing will be a triumph of design and engineering acumen. As much as Maggie’s Yorkshire will look good, it is the support it will provide that will be its biggest triumph. My role at the ground-breaking ceremony was to introduce the key speakers, including Martin and Linda Pollard CBE, chair of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – who greeted me with the words” “Hello trouble!” Also speaking at the event were Rebeca Ramos from Heatherwick Studio, who told the audience how the firm had developed its vision for Maggie’s Yorkshire. The building, she said, had been designed so it felt like it was giving...
David Parkin on a new self-help app, the magic of Ryan Giggs and keeping cheery on Blue Monday

David Parkin on a new self-help app, the magic of Ryan Giggs and keeping cheery on Blue Monday

THIS week started with Blue Monday, the day which is said to be the most depressing of the year. I’m not sure why, but I suppose if you are going to dub a particular day the worst of the year, then a bleak and chilly Monday in January is a pretty safe bet. I’m sure experts would frown at such a marketing creation as Blue Monday. What is positive is that mental health issues are rightly now becoming more important to employers. And with the backing of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, it is something more people are prepared to talk about. Mental health issues cost the UK an estimated £70bn in lost productivity, benefit payments and healthcare expenditure, according to the OECD. So it was interesting to read about a new initiative from Yorkshire businesswoman Joanne Wilkinson. Jo is the founder of My Possible Self which has created a digital self-help programme to support employees. Her daughters Hana and Fleur are also directors of the business and have designed an innovative new app. The app uses content from the world-renowned Black Dog Institute in Australia which is clinically proven to reduce stress, anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression in eight weeks. It comes as Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered employers to better support those with mental ill health and said “more needs to be done”. My Possible Self is designed to be used as an early intervention tool, preventing symptoms escalating into more serious health problems. My Possible Self is engaging with corporates to discuss how the programme can help employees with stress, anxiety and...
David Parkin on supermarket success and a hairy time for dealmakers

David Parkin on supermarket success and a hairy time for dealmakers

WHEN I had a pop at Asda’s failings last year I contrasted its performance to that of fellow Yorkshire supermarket Morrisons. Under chief executive David Potts, Morriebobs, as it is sometimes affectionately called by shoppers, is getting back to the glory days it had when run by the late Sir Ken Morrison. Potts is a retailer who is looking to keep prices low, improve the way staff deal with customers and get more goods on the shelves that people want to buy. Simples. As a meerkat I know often says. But it is amazing how sometimes the weight of responsibility of running a big firm often clouds the judgement of those at the top. A bit like turning an oil tanker in a rough sea, they don’t act until it is far too late. Potts’ back to basics approach helped Morrisons deliver a 2.8% increase in like-for-like retail sales over the six weeks to January 7 whilst also keeping prices down where they were last year despite inflation. The Potts’ approach isn’t rocket science, just the same thing that helped Sir Ken transform his mum’s egg and butter stall on Bradford market and turn it into Britain’s fourth biggest grocery chain. But David Potts’ predecessors couldn’t do it and all the evidence points to successive bosses at Asda struggling to embrace the approach too. Unlike it’s rivals like Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, Asda is not listed on the London Stock Exchange, it is owned by the world’s biggest retailer, American monolith Walmart. That means it doesn’t have to announce detailed Christmas trading figures. In the past I remember it...
David Parkin looks to banish the January blues

David Parkin looks to banish the January blues

FOR the first time in years I went to a pantomime at Christmas. No I’m not going to say it. OK I will. Oh yes I did. Sleeping Beauty at the Woodville Theatre in Gravesend. A host of theatrical greats were in the cast. Well, Linda Lusardi and 90s girl group Cleopatra (Comin’ Atcha!). The 12-year-old daughter of friends was a dancer in the show which was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon during that odd time between Christmas and New Year. In fact, Andy Green, who featured in my last blog, came up with a name for those few days at the end of December – Twixtmas. Andy encouraged one and all to celebrate Twixtmas but I don’t think it caught on. Back to the panto and the dame was a character called Nanny who did a great impression of Donald Trump. It is always easy to laugh at a large, loud, orange buffoon who makes ridiculous comments. As long as they are on stage in panto and not in the Oval Office. ::: AFTER the show we headed back to my friends’ house and over dinner their nine-year-old son produced his favourite Christmas present, a 2018 Guinness Book of Records. Having heard his sister tell us of her conversations with Linda Lusardi and Cleopatra, I was keen to underline my celebrity friend credentials and searched in vain in the book for a listing for Ed Wood, who last year, you may remember, broke the record for the fastest time to visit all English football stadiums. I frantically fired off a text to Ed and received...
So…David Parkin has a surreal experience

So…David Parkin has a surreal experience

WHEN I started working at the Yorkshire Post one of the first contacts I made was a larger than life public relations man called Andy Green. A West Ham fan, when Andy spoke his mind moved so quickly and he knew so much that words seemed to just tumble from his mouth. As Eric Morecambe might say, they were all the right words, but not necessarily always in the right order. I remember taking part in a seminar on journalism and public relations and I had to follow Andy, a self-anointed ‘creative guru’ as a speaker. I don’t think anyone listened to what I said as they were still getting their heads around Andy’s speech. Over the years I’ve bumped into Andy many times and he is always great company and has a new idea or story to tell. I once saw him at a PR awards event and Andy, a big man, was wearing a white tuxedo. I told him he looked like the star of a film. When he asked which one, I said it was the iceberg in Titanic. Like many deep thinking, creative gurus, Andy decided to go off and seek calm and inspiration in a far off place. But rather than going to a remote retreat in the foothills of the Himalayas he chose Barry Island in South Wales. Andy recently had a letter published by the Financial Times, part of his new campaign to ensure the correct use of the word ‘surreal’. I would never describe Andy as a pedant, but he is deadly serious with his latest campaign. The letter read: “Sir,...
David Parkin finds Hollywood in the Yorkshire Dales, ducks Mad Friday and meets a music legend

David Parkin finds Hollywood in the Yorkshire Dales, ducks Mad Friday and meets a music legend

WELCOME to Yorkshire held its latest dinner for its Y30 corporate members in the wonderful surroundings of the Swinton Park Estate this week. I always enjoy the venues and the company at these events, but this was even more special – given the timing and surroundings, it felt like someone had flicked a switch and turned on Christmas. Driving up past the huge Christmas tree outside Black Sheep Brewery, through the characterful market town of Masham and then turning into Swinton Park, a luxury hotel with a brand new spa set in 20,000 acres of the rolling Yorkshire Dales, I felt like I’d driven straight onto a film set. And when a porter greeted me with a cheery smile and offered to valet park my car I was proud to give him the keys of the new Mercedes I’ve leased from Harrogate business Synergy Automotive. Synergy is one of those Yorkshire companies worth watching given its rapid growth under founder and managing director Paul Parkinson, who has made sure the business balances its growth alongside valuing and developing its people and putting something back into the local community. Entrepreneur Andrew Cope, who built Zenith Vehicle Leasing into a £750m business, has invested in the company and he is one of the shrewdest judges in business that I know. I don’t think his judgement is as good on the style front given the tartan trews he sports at the annual Firecracker Ball. Synergy Automotive is the latest firm to join the Y30 scheme, an exclusive business club for companies that want to back Yorkshire and the great work that Welcome...