David Parkin on being the centre of attention for Yorkshire women

LAST week’s blog caused quite a kerfuffle.

Not from any of the words in it, but the photograph that accompanied it.

I described a trip to London to speak to the YEWTGH Club – which stands for Yorkshire Exiles Waiting To Go Home.

The photograph of me with members of the semi-regular dining club for ex-pats from Yorkshire working and living in London was basically a room full of blokes sitting around a dinner table.

This blog is sent out to around 8,000 people on email every week and I also post it on Linkedin which sees it get a few hundred more views and often a few comments.

Last week’s column was viewed by almost 1,000 people on Linkedin, liked by 63 and attracted 19 comments – of which over half pointed out the lack of diversity amongst the attendees.

It is not my club but as far as I’m aware the only people banned from attending YEWTGH Club functions are Lancastrians.

Now I’m as much in favour of equality as the next…I know what you thought I was going to say there…but it is interesting that a picture of a group of white, mainly middle-aged, middle class men got such a reaction.

I wouldn’t have got as much response if I’d said we were all part of a religious cult.

No dear, I said cult.

There are plenty of women-only business groups who nobody raises an eyebrow about.

I don’t know why but reading the comments brought back memories of a Two Ronnies sketch called The Worm That Turned from the 1980s.

It left a deep and meaningful mark on me, not because it highlighted the inequality between men and women, but mainly because the female secret police force wore black leather uniforms and hot pants.

And to an impressionable adolescent teenage boy, even an ageing Diana Dors, playing the head of the secret police, held a deep attraction.

To be fair, given the way my hormones were as a teenager, I think Ronnie Corbett in a frock was enough to get me excited.

The premise of the sketch was that it was the year 2012 and women had taken over running England as a police state, forcing men to wear dresses and perform menial roles.

The Two Ronnies spend their time trying to engineer an escape over the border to a place where men can be men – Wales.

That was a futuristic fantasy and the reality today is that things have never been more equal.

But let’s not kid ourselves, there is still a long way to go.

A tiny minority of men in business still do display a somewhat dinosaur-like attitude to equality.

Mind you, probably not as extreme as the Yorkshire accountant who hosts regular lunches for guests in his office, who, when told by one attendee that he was brining a female guest, replied curtly: “Why would I want a woman here? I’ve got one to cook and one to clean already.”

I’ll get my (tin) hat.


COUNCIL leaders chose Yorkshire Day to announce that they have had positive talks about a move towards wider devolution for the whole region.

Previously it was believed the only way towards getting devolved powers would be if the various city regions in Yorkshire pursued their own deals.

But at a summit last week, leaders from Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Hambleton, Harrogate, Hull, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Scarborough, Selby and York councils discussed proposals that include a Yorkshire mayor.

Apparently the authorities across the region describe their approach as a “coalition of the willing”.

What about able?

The last time I looked local authority leaders couldn’t agree which biscuits to have at their meetings, never mind anything else.

Offer them garibaldis, bourbons or custard creams and there would be an almighty squabble over which one to choose.

So what has changed?

Interestingly, or bizarrely, this sudden decision to agree has come just weeks after new Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry appeared to rule out a devolution deal for the whole of Yorkshire.

Given that the Government is the one devolving these powers, I’d imagine it’s views count.

Berry, a relative unknown in Parliamentary circles before this job, replaced Andrew Percy who opted out of the role in favour of the back benches following the General Election.

Neither have the gravitas to suggest they boldly stride through the corridors of power.

But they, like it or not, are the voice that Prime Minister Theresa May listens to when it comes to the Northern Powerhouse.

It has taken several years for these council leaders to agree to agree. So let’s be thankful at least for that.

But where will it lead?

Well according to a joint statement issued on Tuesday, they said:

“Today is Yorkshire Day and therefore it seems right to talk today about our county, its ambitions and our identity. Last Friday, Yorkshire leaders met in York in a positive and constructive meeting and agreed that they have strong common cause.”

I wonder if they decided on garibaldis, bourbons or custard creams or went completely crazy and had Viennese Whirls?

The announcement went on: “The county is big enough and bold enough to want to carve out its own destiny. Leaders were focussed on increasing productivity and growing and inclusive economy that works for all.”

Very laudable. Everyone knows that devolution would bring more ability for the region to make decisions on transport and infrastructure so boosting its economy.

But these very same council leaders have been squabbling over how it will look in Yorkshire for years, during which time other major city regions like Birmingham and Manchester have already elected mayors with significant devolved powers.

So I hope this laudable ambition will be delivered, but if we are to go with form, then it will struggle to get out of the starting gate.

In which case Yorkshire council leaders might as well have spent Yorkshire Day celebrating in the traditional fashion – putting a ferret down their trousers and slapping themselves with stalks from the Rhubarb Triangle.

It doesn’t achieve much but it makes you feel better, so I’m told.

And before anyone starts complaining, yes women can take part in this great Yorkshire tradition.

But I’d remove your tights first, as the ferrets tend to snag their claws in them.

So I’m told.

Have a great weekend.

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