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 bizarre and aggressive behaviour.
Particularly given that I had been the media partner of the Firecracker Ball which had involved paying a substantial sum as well as weeks of promotion in this blog.
But Phil, who I think subscribes to the North Korean approach to dealing with the media, had clearly taken umbrage at me “slagging off” the event he chairs.
What I said was: “I don’t think this year’s Brazilian Carnival theme dazzled like previous years, when guests’ jaws would drop in wonder as they entered the marquee.”
There was plenty I could have been critical of but chose not to be.
The danger for those who organise charity events is that they can become too blinkered and protective of their creations and won’t accept constructive criticism however gently it is delivered.
That is clearly the case with Phil Taylor and the Firecracker.
He emailed me an apology the following day.
I suggest he approaches Russia Today or the Chinese state news agency Xinhua about future media partnerships.
THE drone drama which has left planes grounded and passengers frustrated at Gatwick Airport over the last couple of days is no great surprise.
If you allow any random character to buy and fly a drone without regulation then it doesn’t take a genius to work out that before long someone will fly one where they shouldn’t.
The police have been stymied by regular sightings of one or more drones over the airport but have been unable to track down who is behind it.
I suppose this is the first serious incident involving a drone so you can’t expect politicians to have legislated for and been able to plan ahead for something they knew little about.
A much more pleasant experience last week was the annual reunion lunch for former employees of the Yorkshire Post.
I’m probably the youngest attendee (my ripped jeans and tight jumper set me apart) to the lunch which is held in the modest but very welcoming Raja’s curry restaurant in Harehills in Leeds.
I spent most of the lunch listening to a wealth of stories from hacks, some of whom started working at the YP before I was born.
Indeed Stephen Tyndale-Biscoe remembers cycling to the opening of the M62 motorway while other former colleagues were sent to cover the Lockerbie disaster and 9/11 in New Yorkthe former features editor, Mick Hickling now plays in four bands in York, including two brass bands.
Talk got round to famous former employees on the paper and its sister title, the Yorkshire Evening Post.
The YEP can claim to have had Peter O’Toole and Barbara Taylor-Bradford as alumni as well as Dire Straits founder Mark Knopfler, who spent about six years as a reporter on the paper.
Colleagues remember former YEP news editor Geoff Hemingway taking Knopfler aside one day and giving him a little fatherly advice.
“Now then, Mark lad, don’t you think you should forget this guitar playing and concentrate on being a reporter?
THIS is my last blog of the year and it will return on the second Friday in January.
I may need a little more R&R than usual this festive season given we moved house yesterday.
Losing my laptop and a lack of wifi at home is the reason for the late arrival of today’s missive.
I think I’ll be opening cardboard boxes rather than Christmas presents for the next couple of weeks.
But this time next year it will look like this Rodney.
In the meantime may I wish you a wonderful Christmas and very happy,healthy and successful New Year.