David Parkin on connections, controversy and cauliflower

THEY call it six degrees of separation, but sometimes it is a lot closer than that.

In my last blog a couple of weeks ago I mentioned a trip to Grantley Hall, Yorkshire’s newest luxury hotel, and another trip to Huddersfield Town as a guest of Jason Taylor of Core Facility Services.

It turns out that Core worked on Grantley Hall.

And in the piece on Huddersfield Town I also mentioned their innovative but edgy shirt sponsorship deal with betting firm Paddy Power.

The fact that the Football Association has since charged the club with misconduct says more about the unimaginative bunch of stuffed shirts that populate the governing body of English Football than it does about a stunt that caught the imagination of football fans across the world and raised almost £30,000 for charity.

After the last blog appeared I received an email from Richard Jackson, who I have mentioned here before and who is the former High Sheriff of West Yorkshire.

He said: “An interesting blog this week. Have you worked out who is the chief executive of ‘Flutter’, Betfair and Paddy Power? One Peter Jackson son of his proud father Richard, did you see the Sunday Times full pager on him last week-end?”

I fished out the Sunday Times business section from the previous weekend and read the profile of Yorkshire-born Peter Jackson, the 43-year-old boss of Flutter Entertainment which used to be known as Paddy Power Betfair.

With a background in financial services, Peter heads up a FTSE 100 group operating in 100 countries with 626 shops in the UK and Ireland and with sales of £1.9bn a year.

Under his leadership, the group has invested a billion dollars to get a foothold in the US, seen as a market that presents plenty of future opportunities.

Peter grew up in Harrogate and the Sunday Times interview said his father “worked in the motor trade”.

Given Richard Jackson owned the Mercedes Benz dealership in Harrogate as well as Nidd Vale Motors and has had successful investments in healthcare and owns the stunning Raithwaite Hall Hotel at Sandsend as well as being awarded an MBE and appointed a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, that is a bit like saying that David Hockney likes to do a bit of drawing.


I’M a big fan of the weekly Sunday Supplement programme on Sky Sports.

Four sports journalists telling it like it is on the big stories in football with a combination of common sense and humour.

Considering they are all just sitting around a breakfast table in a TV studio, it makes for very watchable TV and is a cut above some of the drivel spoken by many ex-footballers turned TV pundits.

The Sun’s football reporter Neil Custis is used to getting some stick from players and managers but in embracing Twitter, he also now gets it from fans too.

However there are benefits, as he pointed out on a recent Sunday Supplement.

Observing that Liverpool’s first and second choice goalkeepers are called Allison and Adrian, Neil highlighted a Tweet from a fan: “Allison and Adrian. It sounds like a couple your mum met on holiday in Majorca 10 years ago and still keeps in touch with.”


CONTROVERSY just isn’t what it used to be.

These days someone is ready to take offence at almost anything, however seemingly trivial.

This week it was the turn of a charity for people with Tourette’s syndrome which has demanded an apology from a comedian for an award-winning joke made at the Edinburgh Fringe festival.

Tourettes Action said it was “so disappointed” by Swedish comedian Olaf Falafel’s gag, which won the TV channel Dave’s ‘Funniest Joke of The Fringe’ prize.

Falafel won the award with the gag: “I keep randomly shouting out ‘Broccoli’ and ‘Cauliflower’ – I think I might have florets”.

TV channel Dave asked panellists – comprising the UK’s leading comedy critics – to submit their six favourite jokes made at the festival.

It then put the shortlist to 2,000 members of the public, 41% of whom voted for Falafel’s joke.

However the charity Tourettes Action said the “rubbish” joke had brought shame on Dave.

It said the fact the public voted for the joke showed “how we as a nation deal with people who are different”.

Its chief executive Suzanne Dobson said: “Humour is a great way of educating people – but not only is it not funny to poke fun at people with Tourette’s, it’s not even that funny a joke, is it?”

I don’t agree.

Does laughing at the joke mean you are laughing at people with Tourette’s or just laughing at an inventive play on words?

I’m sure Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his predecessor David Cameron, not to mention Jacob Rees-Mogg would be terribly offended by another of the gags from the Fringe to make Dave’s shortlist.

Comedian Ivo Graham said: “I’ve got an Eton-themed advent calendar, where all the doors are opened for me by my dad’s contacts.”

For the last word on this let’s go back to the exotically-named winner Olaf Falafel (I hope he hasn’t offended any chick pea protest groups with that name), who claims to be “Sweden’s eighth funniest comedian”.

On his joke claiming the top spot, Falafel said: “This is a fantastic honour but it’s like I’ve always said, jokes about white sugar are rare, jokes about brown sugar… demerara.”


BEFORE anyone else calls me Judith Chalmers (younger readers please substitute that with Colleen Rooney), I was on holiday last week but that will be the last one of the year.

We went to Sorrento in Italy, a place I have never been before, but is definitely not undiscovered.

When I returned home this week someone asked me what was the highlight of the trip.

Was it the beauty and glamour of the island of Capri, or the sprawling and haunting ancient ruins of Pompeii – or even the gritty raw energy of Naples, Italy’s third largest city?

No, I have to admit, it wasn’t any of these.

My abiding memory was a troupe of busking tinkers who played the summer pop hit of two years ago, Despacito, in a packed train carriage of tourists heading to Pompeii.

Oh, and continuing the high brow musical theme, another highlight was a bloke on a Bontempi organ who played 1980s hits and crooned along to them in the evenings on the terrace of our hotel.

The most memorable number was that classic by Glenn Medeiros, “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”.


I have to admit it did get me up dancing.

Now it doesn’t lend itself to a slut drop as well as Despacito, but there was more room on the hotel terrace than there was in a railway carriage of perspiring tourists.

Have a great weekend


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