David goes all gaga over Biden and bye Don

PERHAPS it’s the effects of the latest lockdown, but I found myself surprisingly emotional during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.

Standing on the steps of the Capitol, where just two weeks before a rabid rabble had swarmed wearing headgear ranging from woolly hats to combat helmets, MAGA caps to a horned head dress, I saw two things I worried we wouldn’t see again for some time in America – democracy in action and a leader striking a presidential tone and bearing.

The almost 200,000 flags on the mall in front of the inauguration ceremony replaced the usual crowds, but were a poignant reminder that twice as many people as flags that fluttered in the Washington wind on Wednesday, have died in the US from Covid-19 in less than a year.

It didn’t need a huge (or should that be ‘yuge’?) crowd cheering his every sentence to give Joe Biden’s words gravitas.

What made me emotional was that here was an American president speaking with grace, humility and honesty.

It made the last four years of rancour, division, personal aggrandisement and gratuitous egomania seem like a bad dream.

Look, I’m not naive enough to think that Joe Biden becoming 46th president of the United States of America is the answer to all the country’s problems.

But surely it has a better chance with a man in charge who faces up to the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic?

A man who believes America should engage with the world, not put the shutters up?

A man who is prepared to address the clear and present danger of climate change on the environment?

A man who appears to see the best in people, not the worst?

A man who is prepared to engage with his opponents and the media and debate the issues where they differ, rather than calling them liars?

When you think these are the most simple and basic things we would expect from a politician, never mind the president of the United States, you realise what a warped environment, what a moral vacuum, Donald Trump created and inhabited for the last four years.

Outside the USA he didn’t have many fans, other than an oddball assortment of dictators and far rightwing political leaders, but it is worth remembering that almost 75 million Americans – nearly half those who voted in last November’s presidential election – supported him.

They won’t just flip to back Biden.

So the 78-year-old new incumbent of the Oval Office has many challenges ahead.

Dealing with a pandemic, bringing together a divided nation and stimulating the economy are among them.

Whether he can achieve what he has set out to remains to be seen, but surely his approach must ensure that he has a better chance than the last guy.

And if you are wondering how emotional I got watching the inauguration, I can tell you that I even thought Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga were brilliant.

But after watching a succession of US singers throttle the national anthem at Superbowls and before world heavyweight title boxing matches in Las Vegas, it was nice to see the Star-Spangled Banner sung in tune.

Even if J-Lo looked like she was dressed for a night in the Flying Pizza and Gaga’s frock and huge brooch were giving off vibes from The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones.


THE books are starting to pile up on my bedside table again.

Just when one author sends me a copy of his new book, another one turns up.

I didn’t realise I knew so many talented people.

I’ve not seen David Hall for many years but I remember him as an experienced Yorkshire-based entrepreneur and consultant who built up a training business, consulted with more than 100 companies around the world and even co-wrote and presented a BAFTA award winning BBC business series called ‘Winning’.

He has now taken his experience of 40 years in business and written a book – not his first, his fifth – called ‘Telling Tales’ which recounts some of his experiences from his career and the lessons learned.

It takes in his experiences working with some of Yorkshire’s most successful entrepreneurs and their businesses such as Terry Bramall at Keepmoat – who eventually sold it for £800m – and David Kilburn at MKM, the Hull-based builders’ merchant chain that now has 70 branches across the UK.

Thomas Martin, the chairman of another successful Hull business, Arco, is one of the many business owners to compliment David.

“In a world where France has no word for Entrepreneur, Yorkshire has two: David Hall. You simply cannot read only one of the ‘stories’ at a time, they are compelling, educational and very entertaining,” writes Thomas.

Right, that’s another book I’ve got to read then.

But I might put it on the top of the pile above the Winston Churchill biography I’m still grappling with.

At least reading it might ensure I come out of this latest lockdown knowing more than when I went in.

Telling Tales is available from Amazon, Waterstones and most major booksellers.


IT was nice to catch up with veteran stockbroker Keith Loudon on the phone the other day.

I wrote last year how Keith, who is well into his 80s, had a stroke last summer and is currently recovering.

Sadly the latest lockdown means that he can’t be visited by his family but that hasn’t dimmed the enthusiasm for life for the indefatigable chairman of national stockbroking and investment firm Redmayne Bentley.

He matter-of-factly informed me that he had recently had his first Covid-19 vaccine injection.

I’m not sure whether he was due to have it, but he told me that when saw a couple of gentlemen “pratting about with clipboards like bureaucrats” at the vaccine centre, he informed them that he and another resident were ready for their jabs.

I bet they didn’t dare say no.

Keith was in reflective mood, remembering his early involvements in politics (he sat on Leeds City Council as a Conservative for many years and is a former Lord Mayor of Leeds) when he came across a thrustingly ambitious Labour politician called Denis Healey.

Keith admitted to me that he wasn’t much of a student at school, “I was the world’s most prolific failure”, he confided before going on to tell me that he is planning to continue his regular missives to Redmayne Bentley colleagues.

He plans to call it: “Drips from the Chairman’s Pen”.

Remembering growing up as a child during the war, Keith told me his father had buried a tin of salmon halfway up the garden which was there for the family to unearth and eat on the event of a German invasion.

And when fears of a Nazi invasion were at their height in 1940, Keith recalls his father and a friend taking pick shafts and heading to the Arthington Tunnel near Leeds to protect it from the Germans.

“Quite what they’d have done with two pick shafts when faced with enemy paratroopers, I don’t know,” reflected Keith.

Have a great weekend.

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