David Parkin on doing business at a beer festival and busting the cosmetic surgery myth

IT’S beer festival season and the latest craze in business circles is a corporate afternoon at a festival.

This basically consists of accountants, lawyers and property professionals cramming into the venue for a few hours drinking and socialising before they let the riff raff in.

This is done not because these two different groups wouldn’t mix comfortably, it appears to me it is for health and safety reasons.

You see business people in their off-duty mufti opt for tweed and quilted jackets and they, when combined with the fishermen’s knits and anoraks favoured by the CAMRA real ale crowd, could spark a flammable situation.

I’d never been invited to Ilkley before so was keen to see what all the fuss was about.

My invite came from Leeds firm Progeny Corporate Law and wasn’t so much prompted by wanting my influential and entertaining presence as the fact that since I gatecrashed their Christmas do I’ve considered myself part of their team.

Every year on a Friday afternoon in February, a large proportion of the Leeds business and advisory community board trains for Ilkley and head for the King’s Hall.

It is the business equivalent of swallows heading south for the winter, or to create a more realistic image for you: herds of bison tramping across the grasslands of the American West in search of fertile grazing.

It was indeed an extravaganza of tweed and quilted jackets, which made me pleased I’d opted for a rather cool herringbone jacket and body warmer combo.

A couple of comments asking whether the two were actually one garment were, I concluded, driven by jealousy.

My smug appreciation of the outfit wasn’t helped when I tried to remove the body warmer in the heaving and steamy beer hall and the zip stuck, prompting a rather undignified couple of minutes in which I resembled a trainee contortionist.

Regaining my composure, helped by a soothing half of local favourite, Mary Jane, produced by Ilkley Brewery, I wandered around looking nonchalant and engaging participants in witty conversation.

Spotting entrepreneur Andrew Cope, I headed over for a chat and complimented him on his sports jacket.

“Is it the finest Italian cashmere?” I asked.

“No, it is vintage Harris Tweed,” he replied.

Ilkley’s charity shops really are a cut above.

Andrew said he’d turned up without a ticket for the sold-out event and so had initially struggled to get in.

“You should have pointed to your house on the hill opposite and said ‘Do you know where I live?’” I told him.

“Yes, I thought about that!” he said with a smile.

I chatted to Andrew about the recent buyout deal for Zenith Vehicle Contracts, which he built up from a small car leasing business to a national player.

Having covered the previous five management buyouts of Zenith, led by Andrew, the most recent, which happened last month, valued Zenith at £750m when it was bought by private equity player Bridgepoint.

While Andrew is no longer involved in Zenith, he still had a stake in the business.

I cursed my luck that I was offering my congratulations to him at a beer festival where all the booze was free. It would have been better if I had bumped into him in the champagne bar at Claridges.

Heading off to another corner of the King’s Hall, I was introduced to a blonde female legal recruiter who was giddily handing out cards to accountants and lawyers and promoting a candidate who was currently “with a big six accountancy firm but is looking for a more hands-on challenge in a smaller more entrepreneurial firm”.

“Is the big firm giving him the bullet?” I asked helpfully.

She ignored my comment and asked if I was a lawyer.

“What, wearing that clobber?” said Richard Larking of Progeny Corporate Law.

I explained to her about my eclectic talents in the world of writing and events.

She sighed, seeing the chance of a fee vanish, and gave me a different business card from those she had been handing out to other people.

It had a leafy green tree set against a blue sky on the back and offered a career coaching service.

I headed off in search of a reviving half of ale and opted not for Wharfedale Blonde from nearby Wharfedale Brewery, nor an Old Leg Over from Harrogate’s Daleside Brewery but instead chose Comfortably Numb from Bad Co Brewery in Dishforth.


IN an increasingly mad world in which what you look like is seen by some as more important than what you say or what you do, an item of news this week cheered me.

The number of people having cosmetic surgery in the UK in 2016 dropped by 40% compared with 2015, figures show.

The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said 30,750 procedures had been done – down from 51,140.

Surgeon Rajiv Grover, who compiled the report, said: “In a climate of global fragility, the public are less likely to spend on significant alterations and become more fiscally conservative.”

And there was me thinking that perhaps people were becoming less vain.

I’d not heard of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons before.

They are known as BAAPS for short.

Have a great weekend.

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