David Parkin defies the critics

CAN you forget everything I said last week please?

What do you mean you already have?

I’d already annoyed one reader by “doing politics” in last week’s blog.

A chap I’ve never met before commented on Linkedin: “Please leave out the political comments, in my opinion they ruined what was a great article.”

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Most people tell me to leave out all comments because that will ensure a great article…and save them plenty of time reading it.

To be honest I didn’t think that pointing out the bizarre circus surrounding Downing Street was a political comment, just an observation on the crazy times we are living in.

Boris Johnson has been desperate for the media spotlight to be shone elsewhere after being caught in its intense glare in recent weeks.

I bet even he never thought that it would be Kurt Zouma’s cats that grabbed the headlines from him.

I’m asking you to forget last week’s critical comments about Boris because a guy I know has just become his director of communications.

You might think that makes me a total hypocrite but I like to think I’m more of a loyal friend.

Guto Harri was named as Downing Street director of communications last Saturday as Boris Johnson reshuffled his team after a string of resignations from No 10 amid turmoil over parties held during lockdowns.

Five aides resigned from No 10 last week, three of whom had been linked to the lockdown events in Downing Street.

Mr Harri, a former BBC journalist who was an advisor to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, was one of the first new appointments to fill the roles, along with Cabinet Office Minister Steve Barclay, who has become chief of staff.

You might remember that I wrote about Guto Harri last year, when he hit the headlines after he was presenting a programme on the TV channel GB News and “took the knee” live on air during a discussion about racism towards England’s black footballers.

He was suspended shortly after when the channel apologised and said the gesture had “breached its standards”.

Guto returned to his role as a director at strategic communications consultancy Hawthorn Advisors.

It gives public relations and public affairs advice to a host of clients and, 20 years after I last spoke to him, I found myself on a video call with Guto last year.

A company I was doing some communications consultancy work for was looking to make a major investment in a transformative industrial project in the UK and was considering getting some advice on public affairs.

I recommended several potential advisors and Guto was one of them.

When I saw he’d got the Downing Street job I texted to congratulate him, saying it was a challenge but one I’m sure he’ll relish and, with a little bit of luck, succeed at.

“Mad maybe. But irresistible!” was the reply.

In the same way that football managers rarely get a job when things are going well, it is definitely the same for political PR people.

It is some rollercoaster, but if you can enjoy the ride then it must be a pretty intoxicating experience.

And when I say intoxicating, I don’t mean it in the context of a No 10 “work event”.


A FEW times a year I pop into the offices of Town Centre Securities high above the Merrion shopping centre in Leeds for a catch up with Edward Ziff.

I never get any work out of it but I enjoy it and always learn something.

We were joined by Edward’s son Ben who I first encountered when he was a youngster doing filing in his late grandfather, Arnold Ziff’s office.

He now runs TCS’s car parks business CitiPark and was telling me about plans to build a multi-storey car park on the company’s Whitehall Road site which will ultimately have charging facilities in every parking space.

Edward said that where the TCS property portfolio used to be made up of 85% retail that figure is now closer to 30%, mainly made up of the Merrion Centre.

The group took a decision to reduce debt when the pandemic struck and has sold off around £100m of property over the last two years.

That includes its London office in Duke Street, round the corner from Selfridges on Oxford Street.

The ground floor of the building is home to a business called Titan Black which customises watches made by luxury brands including Rolex, Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet.

I’d imagine it is the watch equivalent of what Overfinch does to Range Rovers and Twisted does for Land Rover Defenders.

It all goes to prove that if you’ve got enough money then someone will come up with a plan to help you spend it,

Edward told me that Titan Black have customised a Rolex Milgauss (no I’d not heard of it either, but then I don’t think I’m their target customer) in collaboration with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.

The Invincible Edition celebrates Arsenal’s record-breaking 49 match unbeaten run between May 2003 and October 2004 and the watch dial is designed in homage to the famous Highbury Clock at the club’s former stadium in North London.

But when you are dealing in expensive watches, it doesn’t just attract the kind of people who can afford to buy them.

Ben showed me a video filmed by his sister when two hammer-wielding robbers sped up to the shop on scooters using one of them to smash through the outer door before taking their hammers to smash through the inner door.

When a passerby started filming the robbery on his phone one of the robbers produced a huge machete and chased him off.

It looked like a scene from the gritty Italian TV crime drama Gomorrah except that those gangsters operate in the back streets of Naples rather than the luxury boutique-lined streets of London’s West End.

Back in Town Centre Securities’ Leeds HQ, I admired the sleek silver coffee machine gurgling in reception.

Ben said he had acquired the Swiss-made machine from a customer and had found a way to utilise his own company’s logo into the coffee making area of reception.

“Under TCS we are going to have ‘tea, coffee, sugar’,” said Ben, who added, “do you think that will make it into your blog?”

I said only if I was really short of content.


AFTER enduring a difficult night watching my team lose at Huddersfield Town last week I returned to the John Smith’s Stadium for an altogether more relaxing experience.

I was a guest of Andy Needham whose company, Approved Foods, sponsored the FA Cup meeting between the Terriers and local rivals Barnsley.

It was a fairly dull match played in driving rain but Huddersfield triumphed 1-0 and I could enjoy the game a lot more than I had three days earlier.

It was nice to meet up with many old friends who support Town.

One of Andy’s guests was Neil Turton, a Barnsley fan who is the managing director of independent buying group Sugro.

I first met Neil when he was chief executive of Nisa, the convenience store chain.

I went to interview him for the Yorkshire Post at Nisa’s Scunthorpe headquarters.

Neil was enthusiastic about the interview and almost seemed excited about my visit.

It turns out that his late father was an avid daily reader of the Yorkshire Post and for his son to be featured in its pages was quite some honour.

I remember thinking if only everybody I went to interview was as enthusiastic about my visit.

Among the other guests was Sean “Jarvo” Jarvis, the chief executive of Leicestershire County Cricket Club.

Sean was the long-serving commercial director of Huddersfield Town before taking up his current role and this was his first return to the John Smith’s Stadium since he left.

When Sean took up his new cricketing role Andy got spoof psychic Clinton Baptiste to record an hilarious video message of congratulations.

As part of the match sponsorship, Andy and his guests were taken to the centre of the pitch for a photo just before kick-off.

A video of us all braving the rain and striding across the pitch was put on social media and Andy, with his typical deadpan, self-deprecating humour, likened it to recent incidents of bad behaviour by football fans.

He commented: “Further example of some idiots on the pitch this weekend! Please keep off the grass kids!”

I didn’t mind, I was basking in the glory of a chant I thought I heard from the terraces: “Parky, Parky, Parky oooh super David Parkin.”

Have a great weekend.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top