David Parkin gets turned on to Brexit by Channel 4 and ponders the bear facts of Nookie

David Parkin gets turned on to Brexit by Channel 4 and ponders the bear facts of Nookie

“THAT’S a nice scarf,” said the chap who served me a cup of tea yesterday. “He always looks smart and important,” said my companion. “Yes he looks like the main man, are you his bodyguard?” said the man behind the counter as he gave us our tea. Now given that my companion was Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, the third largest local authority in the country, I’d imagine he’s had better compliments. Mind you, given my experience recounted in the last blog just before Christmas, perhaps I do need a bodyguard. I was seeing Tom for one of our semi-regular catch-ups. For a busy chief exec he makes a point of keeping tabs of what the business community within the city and region are thinking and his diary is studded with meetings and events which allow him to do that. After a quick tour of Leeds Civic Hall he suggested we pop into the cafe at Leeds Beckett University’s Rose Bowl building next door for a cuppa. Given not all of its students are back from their festive break, the ground floor of the building was a hive of activity. Tom told me that Channel 4 News were holding a Brexit debate on the programme last night to get the views of young people aged 18 to 20 who weren’t old enough to vote in the referendum on the EU but now are of voting age. As we stirred our cups of tea I turned to see a member of the Channel 4 team carefully fixing up a banner with the theme for the discussion:...
David Parkin on a bizarre episode and Dire Straits

David Parkin on a bizarre episode and Dire Straits

YOU can’t spend 20-odd years in journalism without annoying somebody. Being chased by the BNP, receiving death threats from irate football fans and and a warning of legal action from Ken Bates when he was chairman of Leeds United are all experiences which I don’t look back on fondly. But I’ve never been head butted. Until last week. I joined the Progeny Corporate Law team for a Christmas drink in the bar of Sous le Nez in Leeds – I have gatecrashed their festive celebrations so many times that they now invite me. As I walked in I said hello to Phil Taylor of property company Oakapple and the chairman of the annual Firecracker Ball which raises funds for the Barnardo’s charity. I joined the Progeny team for a drink and a chat and about half an hour later I saw Phil walking across the crowded room towards me. I turned to greet him and he mumbled something, I leaned towards him to hear him say: “You slagged off the Firecracker, you slagged off the [expletive deleted] Firecracker Ball.” I then saw his forehead heading towards my face. Phil’s a big man but he’s in bad shape and while I’m not exactly Floyd Mayweather, I was able to pull my head out of the way of his head butt so his head only grazed the bridge of my nose. Mind you, it did inflame a spot which had been developing on my nose, which given its size, doesn’t need anything else to highlight its prominence. My reaction to his antics was neither fear or anger, just shock at such...
David Parkin on Brexit with Biggins and disappointing divas

David Parkin on Brexit with Biggins and disappointing divas

IT seemed bizarrely appropriate that I was discussing Brexit with Christopher Biggins this week. The former I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winner is appearing in Billy Pearce’s annual show at the Bradford Alhambra this Christmas. And given the pantomime that Brexit has become, talking to one of Britain’s most celebrated panto dames about it didn’t seem odd at all. Biggins has spent the last 40-odd Christmases playing the dame in pantomimes across the UK. He told me his first performance was in Darlington when seats for the show were priced at one shilling and sixpence. We agreed that whatever your politics you can’t help admire the fortitude of Theresa May in the face of flak from all sides. But that doesn’t provide any sticking plaster to the Brexit wound that has seemingly sliced Britain down the middle. Christopher Biggins has been a Tory supporter for years and told me he’s lived in Hackney for three decades thanks to a tip from Margaret Thatcher. Given Harry Redknapp had been proclaimed the King of the Jungle the previous evening, I asked Biggins if, as a previous winner, he had been in demand by the media to comment. “Yes I was due to appear on the TV news but they bumped me because of Brexit,” he said. I know which I would have preferred to watch. Both of us agreed that British politics is a mess so we went back to talking about pantomime. Biggins and I were guests of Andrew Creese and Debbie Dobson from the Dakota Deluxe Hotel in Leeds in their box watching Mariah Carey’s Christmas...
David Parkin enjoys sex in Hollywood and a nice bit of cheese on toast

David Parkin enjoys sex in Hollywood and a nice bit of cheese on toast

YOU may not have heard of Dr Boyd Cooper but you would definitely know the names of some of his patients. The doctor, who has just turned 95-years-old, is one of Hollywood’s most celebrated physicians. In a career covering six decades he had an illustrious following including Liza Minelli, Karen Black and Beverly D’Angelo and despite becoming known as the “gynaecologist to the stars” he was also the personal physician to Marlon Brando, Michael Douglas and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who would fly in from all over the world to see him. The late soul singer Barry White – known as the Walrus of Love – once said that together, his music and Dr Cooper had brought thousands of children into the world. What an accolade! During his practice in the 1970s he wrote a New York Times bestseller called Sex Without Tears which was translated into five languages and after he retired he wrote a memoir of his time as in Tinseltown called Hollywood Between the Stirrups. As well as having Hollywood’s best known residents as his patients, Boyd also treated immigrants for free. Born in Idaho, Boyd Cooper was a highly decorated lead navigator in the US Air Force during World War 2 and on his return home opened a drive-in serving french fries made with potatoes from his home state – which paid for him to go to medical school. As I said, Boyd is now 95 but several years ago decided that his brain needed a bigger challenge, he began writing a poem every day and posting them on Facebook. Now how do I know all this?...
David Parkin hears some great stories and finds the Greatest Showman

David Parkin hears some great stories and finds the Greatest Showman

I WANNA tell you a story. Readers of a certain vintage will recognise this catchphrase of crooner and TV game show host Max Bygraves. Although apparently Singalongamax claimed it was apocryphal and was made up by impressionist Mike Yarwood. Whether it was true for Max Bygraves, it is certainly right for both businesses and individuals today. If you can articulate your story in a way that is engaging, interesting and memorable, then that gives you an advantage. We all grew up listening to stories and even today, you tend to remember information if it is delivered in the form of a story. Storytelling was the one of the themes of the annual conference we organised for fast-growing wealth management and legal group Progeny last week. The phrase ‘fast-growing’ is often used but not always correct. Given Progeny completed one acquisition the evening before their conference and another on the morning of the event, I think it applies in this case. With its main offices in Leeds and London, the group is creating a national footprint. The conference was held at the head office of Dimensional Fund Advisors in London. The presentation space resembled the United Nations or European Parliament, but I’m sure Progeny achieved more in a day than those two organisations. Given the subject was storytelling, I got author Scott Allen to come and speak. He has written two children’s books called Llamas United and Llamas Go Large about a team of footballing camelids who enter the cup and then head to the World Cup. Straight from a two-day tour of London primary schools, Scott brought his llamas...