Calm down, calm down.
OK then, you never knew I’d been away. Fair enough.
A relaxing 10 days on the Greek island of Kefalonia has helped recharge the batteries.
My last “official engagement” before heading off on holiday was to attend a very fun Royal Ascot event at Bibis Italianissimo restaurant in Leeds.
The day, organised by the glamorous Mandy Taylor, sales and business development manager at Bibis, a Leeds institution for the last 40 years (Bibis, not Mandy), raised money for the Maggie’s Yorkshire charity, where I am on the fundraising board.
It was my job to say a few words about Maggie’s and the amazing centre it is building in the grounds of St James’s Hospital in Leeds which will open later this year.
When I arrived at Bibis the event was in full swing with around 180 guests in their best bib and tucker and the place decorated with flowers and bunting.
The races were broadcast on a big screen, there was a tipster, a bookmaker, fashion, jewellery and wine exhibitors and a huge flower wall where photographers Lincoln and Perrin from Roth Reed Photography, who had donated their services for free, were taking photos of guests.
I even got in on the act, adding my own touch of sprezzatura in a photo with Mandy (pictured above right) and Luciana Spirandio of Bibis (above left).
It made their day.
Laura Riach of Maggie’s Centres had already spoken to the audience so I just needed to briefly thank everyone and tell them about the huge positive impact that the new Maggie’s Yorkshire will have on cancer patients and their families and friends in the region.
I ended by telling people I had known Mandy for some time and, indeed we had first met at Huddersfield Town where she adds a glamorous presence.
As I came off stage, she whispered to me: “Most of the people here today are actually Leeds fans.”
I wondered if I should plan a swift exit, but by that point the compere was whipping up the audience to wave Union Jacks as the Royal Procession headed by the Queen, made their way down the racecourse.
Frankie Dettori was a big winner again at Royal Ascot this year, but by far the biggest winner at Bibis was Maggie’s Yorkshire with the restaurant presenting the charity with a donation of £2419.55.
FAREWELL then Sir Kim Darroch, Britain’s erstwhile ambassador to the United States, who resigned this week.
After a 42-year career serving his country and just six months before he was due to retire, the highly respected diplomat stepped down following the row over leaked emails which were critical of the Trump administration.
Thanks for your unwavering service to Queen and country old son, but it seems there is only one Kim that Donald Trump likes to deal with these days, and it definitely ain’t you.
What a pathetic, sorry mess.
The British Government relies on their diplomats based overseas to provide honest, frank and insightful feedback.
In emails leaked to the Mail on Sunday, Sir Kim apparently described the Trump administration as “clumsy” and “inept”.
Given these leaked emails were written in 2017, I think most observers would agree that Trump’s first months in office were pretty chaotic – and not much has changed since.
The only person who couldn’t recognise this description was President Trump himself who fired off a series of bitter tweets
calling Sir Kim “wacky” and “a very stupid guy” before going on to criticise Theresa May as “foolish”.
Sir Kim also described Trump as “insecure”.
Don’t know what gave him that idea.
Given Trump’s totally haphazard approach to governing and his pre-occupation with settling scores, there is no surprise at his angry reaction to this criticism.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama once urged Democrats to remain civil in the face of criticism from opponents with the slogan: “When they go low, we go high.”
Her husband’s successor in the White House has turned that on its head.
WELCOME to Yorkshire always has a big presence at the annual Great Yorkshire Show and this year was no exception.
I attended the tourism organisation’s evening BBQ on Wednesday, the day that figures were published showing that this year’s Tour de Yorkshire cycle race delivered £60m into the region’s economy and was watched by an international TV audience of 27 million people.
Bouyed by success at the Chelsea Flower Show and with plenty of exciting initiatives planned for the rest of the year, it is nice to see Welcome to Yorkshire so positive after enduring a challenging few months following the departure of chief executive Sir Gary Verity.
Commercial director Peter Dodd has stepped into the breach with a nice combination of energy, humility and humour.
He even found time to take the mickey out of me at the BBQ, introducing the singing duo performing at the event, who are called ’Travelling Light’.
“Which is relevant to David Parkin given the number of holidays he goes on!”
I’ll take any mention I can get.
It was great to see so many key figures from the region’s business and rural communities and always nice to bump into Judith Blake and Tom Riordan, the leader and chief executive of Leeds City Council.
As we munched on fine Yorkshire beef provided by Dovecote Park and served up superbly by David of boutique venue Yorebridge House I told Judith and Tom it was nice to see key figures from a major local authority sparing the time to attend.
“Oh we had to be here. We’ve been in a seven hour meeting today but we both wanted to come along and show our support. Welcome to Yorkshire do a great job,” said Judith.
AT last the Conservative leadership contest has got serious.
Yes, Boris Johnson has been photographed with a string of sausages around his neck.
The pro-Brexit favourite to be our next Prime Minister was at a Tory hustings debate with rival Jeremy Hunt in York and accepted an invitation from the owners of sausage manufacturer Heck to visit their North Yorkshire factory.
That prompted angry outbursts on Twitter from supporters of staying in the European Union and even a threat to boycott the food firm’s products.
Which left Heck’s husband and wife owners Debbie and Andrew Keeble frantically back-pedalling to avoid the backlash and underline that they weren’t BoJo supporters, but concerned about what Brexit will mean for more than 50% of their staff who are from Eastern Europe and what to expect on trade tariffs.
I bet their wet behind the ears PR advisers thought they’d hit the jackpot when Boris accepted the invitation.
But you don’t get Boris without controversy.
And given the seismic fracture in public opinion created by the EU Referendum, then I would have advised my clients to steer well clear.
Because for Heck this was always going to be a banger that blew up.
THANKS to Rodney Dalton for stepping up and taking the helm of this blog while I was away over the last fortnight.
I loved his contributions and feedback has been very positive.
Although I wasn’t sure about this message: “Well done to Rodney. A rant about lawyers, taking a celebrity chef to task and a name drop for the Dakota hotel – it’s as if you’re not away!”
That kind of comment could hurt a person’s feelings.
But fortunately I can rise above it and I shall be taking Rodney for lunch today for a full debrief in the dining room of the excellent Dakota Hotel in Leeds.
Have I mentioned how good it is before?
To be fair to Rodney, he included a mention of grime sensation Stormzy’s performance at Glastonbury.
Which is more than you could have expected from me.
I’m less up on the latest popular beat combos to top the hit parade.
When Stormzy appeared at Glastonbury he claimed he was the first black British artist to headline the festival.
That was until he had to apologise to Skunk Anansie who appeared back in 1999.
Which was a useful piece of information from my point of view because I’d always thought Skunk & Nancy were a lounge act who performed easy listening favourites on a Bontempi organ.
When I phoned Rodney earlier this week I wondered if he had had the kind of reaction I often get to my blogs – captains of industry bearing magnums of champagne in restaurants and starlets chucking themselves at me in nightclubs.
He said he couldn’t recall either over the past couple of weeks but he was at a funeral where someone dropped a sandwich at the wake and turned to him and said: “Ooh, don’t mention it in the blog!”
He promised them he wouldn’t.
Well I didn’t.
Have a great weekend.