David Parkin on bubbly with Bublé, D-Day tributes and Harry Gration gets the horn

David Parkin on bubbly with Bublé, D-Day tributes and Harry Gration gets the horn

“YOU can’t beat a bit of Bublé,” said Debbie Dobson of Dakota Deluxe Hotel.

Or DD from DD as I know her.

I don’t mind Michael Bublé but I’ve only ever heard his stuff on the the radio or on CD, I’ve never really seen him performing.

So I was delighted to accept an invite to join Debbie and guests in the Dakota box for Bublé’s performance at the first direct Leeds Arena on Monday.

I think I needed the bubbly on offer before the performance given that I walked into a conversation between Leeds United fan Alan Syers of property group Evans and club legend Tony Dorigo.

They didn’t seem very sympathetic that Leeds United’s play-off conquerors were beaten by Aston Villa at Wembley.

I munched on a canape and tried to sound magnanimous.

That’s difficult through gritted teeth.

While Leeds United might not be in the Premier League yet, they certainly have Premier League hospitality thanks to Debbie Dobson, who hosts guests in the chairman’s lounge at matches at Elland Road when she’s not doing her day job as director of sales at the Dakota Deluxe.

It is one of the reasons why she has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice Award at the Leeds Hotels & Venues Association annual awards later this month.

Anyway it was then off to the arena for a sold out performance in front of an audience of 12,500 people.

Backed by a 35-piece orchestra and three singers, Bublé performed for two hours non-stop.

Take a touch of Frank Sinatra, sprinkle in a soupçon of Elvis, Dean Martin, Louis Prima and Bobby Darin and you get a Michael Bublé performance.

OK, he’s none of them, but many of their songs make up his show and he’s about as close as we currently have to a real swinger on the world stage.

No sniggering at the back, you know what I mean when I say swinger.

He is charismatic, good looking and has a heart-warming story to tell about his return to live performing after six years now his son has recovered from illness.

I enjoyed the show.

How many other performers appear on stage in a suit and tie these days?

I thought his suit was a bit tight in the body and too tapered in the legs with narrow lapels and I don’t think the single vent on the jacket flattered him.

I’m sure tailor James Michelsberg could provide some sartorial help in that department.

Bublé is good, he’s a consummate performer with an easy style and an engaging stage presence.

He’s no Frank Sinatra or Bobby Darin.

But then they were unique.

Saying that, I suppose Chas and Dave were too.

In their own way.


I HAD a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat as I watched interviews with D-Day veterans yesterday.

I know I won’t have been alone either.

The former servicemen, all aged well over 90 and some having passed their century, returned to the beaches of Normandy on the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe in 1944, known as Operation Overlord.

By the time night fell on June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied troops had landed in Normandy.

Thousands were killed on that first day of the invasion alone.

And those that survived returned yesterday to pay tribute to the sacrifice of the fallen.

Despite their great age, the veterans who were interviewed said that they were just doing their duty.

The only time they showed emotion was not when asked about their own suffering, but when remembering fallen comrades.

A memorial was unveiled at Ver-sur-Mer to commemorate the 22,442 British troops who died there in the summer of 1944.

The memorial, which overlooks Gold Beach, depicts three soldiers advancing across the sand.

The leading soldier points his Lee Enfield rifle forward, teeth gritted in determination while a younger soldier, holding a sten gun, has a look of slight bewilderment as he advances towards battle.

I’d like to visit it.


AT a time when the Conservative Party is riven with internal divisions and will take several weeks to determine its new leader, you’d think the opposition would be making hay.

Instead Jeremy Corbyn appears to be doing everything possible to make himself unelectable.

His party has not done enough to tackle accusations of anti-semitism but acts rapidly with a Stalin-like fervour to eject critics like former Downing Street press secretary Alastair Campbell, who said he voted Liberal Democrat in the elections for the European Parliament.

I’m no great fan of Donald Trump, but he is the democratically elected leader of our closest ally and one of our largest trading partners.

And he was invited on a state visit to Britain this week by the Queen to take part in commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The fact Corbyn chose to boycott the state banquet for President Trump and speak to those protesting at a rally against him, was, I believe, unedifying and shows a complete lack of leadership qualities.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to work out that Trump reacts better to flattery than insults and threats.

If you have any pretensions of becoming Prime Minister, doesn’t it make sense to want to communicate with the leader of the world’s most powerful nation rather than shout insults about him?

I meet less and less people who believe Labour can succeed with their current leader at the helm.

Because if they can’t make hay in the current clammy climate of Brexit bewilderment then when can they?

Although I did meet one bloke at a party a few months ago who told me he had campaigned for the Socialist Workers Party in the 1980s but had recently joined Labour because Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

Fuelled by a drop of red wine, I asked him if he thought Citizen Smith – the 1970s sitcom featuring Robert Lindsay as “Wolfie” Smith, a young Marxist “urban guerrilla “ in Tooting – was a documentary.

He didn’t laugh.

Later when he was leaving I held my fist aloft and shouted: “Power to the people!”

He didn’t laugh.


WHEN I met Edward Ziff, the chairman and chief executive of stock market quoted property group Town Centre Securities, yesterday, I couldn’t help noticing he had a whistle attached to the lanyard carrying his office security pass.

“Ah, there’s a story about this,” said Edward, who tells a good story.

“When we were having our office refurbished above the Merrion Centre in Leeds, we all had to move into an open plan office on the floor below.

“I normally have my own office so at times – Monday mornings and Friday afternoons – I found it particularly loud.

“So my son bought me one of those air horns you hear at football matches and I used to let it off when it became too loud in the office.”

I asked whether it had the required effect and those in the office did fall silent.

“Well yes, they did, if they didn’t have a coronary first! It was very loud. So my son bought me this whistle and I used that.

“And that was much better.”


TALK this week has been about the announcement by veteran BBC broadcaster Harry Gration that him and his wife are expecting a baby.

When I bumped into stockbroker Keith Loudon of Redmayne-Bentley – I’d call him a veteran but he’s older than Harry – he asked me if I’d seen the news.

Gration’s wife Helen, 51, is 20 weeks pregnant.

Keith said it was an ambitious move considering Harry Gration is 58.

I corrected him and said he’s actually 68.

Keith bet me a tenner I was wrong so I look forward to calling into his office to collect a crisp £10 note in the near future.

Which I will use to buy an air horn Harry’s wife can use to wake him up when the baby needs feeding.

Have a great weekend.


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