David Parkin on meeting a legend and words of wisdom from a barber

David Parkin on meeting a legend and words of wisdom from a barber

THEY say it is better to give than to receive. IT certainly felt like that for me last week when we delivered our latest event for Sky. The broadcaster brought together its 250 team managers from every corner of the UK to brief them on new communications technology which is being introduced. We held the event in the Centenary Pavilion at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium where the staff and catering were top class, everything clicking into place as smoothly as Marcelo Bielsa’s team in full flow against Derby County. When we were setting up the previous day, one of the Sky team managers, Carl Wall, a big Leeds United fan who travels from Lincolnshire with his two sons to every home game, offered his help so he had an opportunity to have a close up look at Elland Road on a non-match day. Carla Stockton-Jones, director of Home Service at Sky, asked if we could arrange for Carl to have a tour inside the stadium. I wondered how we could make Carl’s experience even more memorable and thought it would be nice if possibly a little ambitious if he could be given a tour of Elland Road by a club legend. Legends don’t grow on trees you see. Remembering I met club stalwart Eddie Gray in Welcome to Yorkshire’s box at York Races last year, I got his telephone number and rang Eddie, who said he would be delighted to help. When Carl arrived at the ground I said to him that we might be able to have a look around and we’d go across and wait outside...
David Parkin on the bad and good of banking, Spygate and staying power

David Parkin on the bad and good of banking, Spygate and staying power

THEY say that moving house is one of life’s more stressful experiences. Given I organised my house move five days before Christmas I was prepared for a good dose of chaos in the run up to and during the festive holidays. But the move itself was pretty smooth considering and Christmas went well, despite mislaying my favourite cravat during the house move. A dry sherry just doesn’t feel the same without a silken cravat and smoking jacket. The stress in the situation actually came from getting a mortgage. Advised that NatWest Bank was offering good deals and a customer-friendly approach to lending to home buyers, we applied for a mortgage. It required a fee of over £500 for the bank to have its own survey done to ensure that the value of the property we were buying justified what they were lending us. As far as I’m aware the most that was done by the surveyor NatWest sent was a tick in a box saying the property was unmortgageable because it has its own water supply from a spring rather than a mains water supply. We appealed, pointing out that there are many rural properties which don’t have a mains water supply and asking if the bank had ever provided a mortgage before in such a situation. NatWest dismissed the appeal, refused to refund us our fee and also refused to provide any evidence that their surveyor had even visited the property never mind completed a survey. Our adviser, the impressive Andrew Milnes of Mortgage Advice Bureau, was as perplexed and frustrated as we were and offered to waive...
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...