David Parkin gets a bit overwhelmed by Yorkshire blondes

DISCLAIMER: The writer of this blog tested positive for Covid yesterday and so some of his statements may be affected by having the virus.


I WENT to Ilkley Beer Festival last week and had a wonderful time meeting lots of lawyers, accountants and property professionals.

Nurse! This man is clearly delirious and doesn’t know what he is saying, put him in a darkened room immediately…

Before they put me on a trolley and wheel me away into isolation, I have to say that the statement above is actually true.

That’s what two years of the pandemic does – we are all desperate to get back out to gatherings which are both business and pleasure.

Even if it is one held in a draughty hall full of 650 men wearing tweed jackets and gilets.

I first went to the Ilkley Beer Festival five years ago.

I was naive, I had much to learn.

Back then I thought I could handle several cheeky Yorkshire Blondes.

In the intervening years I’ve learned that I struggle to cope with one.

Well, they can be such a handful.

Leave it son.

This was my first return to the corporate afternoon for the beer festival run by the local Round Table group to raise money for charities and good causes.

The Friday afternoon session is sponsored by a host of law firms, accountancy firms, property agents, construction companies, insurance firms and banks.

They invite guests and the afternoon is a big beano where plenty of business gets discussed – and a load of rubbish too.

I was a guest of my old colleague Lee-J Walker who is the managing director of TheBusinessDesk.com.

I know the accepted dress code for an informal corporate afternoon at a beer festival and I was determined to be different.

So I eschewed the tweed (it can be so scratchy) and a padded gilet (well, it can make you look so bloated) and instead plumped for my most recent acquisition from Michelsberg Tailoring.

(Disclaimer: If using the word acquisition about an item means that you have paid for it, then I’ve used the wrong term. Perhaps ‘purloined’ would be more appropriate.)

I wore my blue, grey and cream check jacket in alpaca, wool and silk from Italian cloth mill Ferla.

Under it I wore a navy blue Barbour zip-up sweater with a quilted front panel – a nod to the vogue for gilets.

As you’d expect, the outfit attracted plenty of comments, the politest of which was probably: “What are you wearing two jackets for? You won’t feel the benefit when you get outside.”

Although from the other side of the room, I could have sworn I heard a resounding compliment on my outfit.

I’m sure the chap said that I looked a complete country gentleman.

I drifted towards a fellow Michelsberg aficionado for some much needed support and reassurance.

Tim Parr is a tax accountant with RSM in Leeds who has a closet full of James Michelsberg’s clobber and created the weekly sartorial homage ‘Bow Tie Day Friday’ which hasn’t quite caught on in the manner in which he perhaps hoped it would.

And you can’t blame the pandemic for that.

Tim looked me up and down, shook his head and said he wasn’t a huge fan of my jacket.

But given he was wearing a battered brown leather jacket and jeans and looked like an off-duty Naples taxi driver, I wasn’t too concerned.

I drifted off to top up my pint glass with a beer which I was informed had a delicate taste of guava juice.

“I’ll tell you the problem with this place,” a fellow drinker hissed at me out of the side of his mouth.

“Too many PCs.”

I said I couldn’t see one police constable in the entire King’s Hall.

He said it didn’t stand for that and explained what the initials PC mean.

Now, I know that the P was for property, but I can’t for the life of me remember what the C stood for.

I bumped into entrepreneur and academic Professor Adam Beaumont who founded the telecoms business aql.

Its offices are in the restored and hugely impressive Salem Chapel which sits between Asda’s HQ and the old Tetley Brewery site to the south of Leeds city centre.

Given I don’t have a clue what Adam’s business does I got him talking about a subject I was interested in, namely the fact that a few years ago he went out with Teri Hatcher, the former Bond girl, Desperate Housewife and Lois Lane in Superman.

I told him I’ve met a few desperate housewives in my time.

But when it came down to it, it turns out they weren’t that desperate.

Adam said that after he and Teri split he also went out with another Hollywood actress.

I can’t remember her name but apparently she appeared topless in the film Showgirls.

Which certainly warrants further research.

Adam told me he is a trustee of the amazing Eden Project in Cornwall and is spearheading the plan to build an ‘Eden Project North’ eco visitor attraction in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe.

I told Adam I had heard about the ambitious plan from my friend Michael Taylor, the influential Manchester-based journalist and I would be keen to lend my support in any way possible.

Adam told me to email him and also suggested I would be an ideal person to join a round table discussion with the Estonian ambassador to the UK who is visiting Leeds this week.

So last weekend I dutifully dropped Adam an email mentioning our conversation and received an automatic reply which stated:

“Hi there,

I’m no longer monitoring this email account due to the sheer volume of incoming email.

If you need me and it’s a simple ask, please drop me a txt.

If it’s something which needs arranging – please contact my assistant.”

Well, that’s one way of brushing off pesky people.

Adam introduced me to his fellow drinkers at the festival who are friends who live in the same village.

“We all know each other well and sometimes invest in businesses together,” Adam told me.

I’m lucky if my friends trust me to put their wheelie bins out when they are on holiday.

I chatted to one of the group and asked him what he did for a living.

“I run Bramham estate,” he said.

It was Nick Lane Fox, who owns Bramham Park, the historic house which sits in 900 acres of countryside near Wetherby.

I was tempted to tell him that I also grew up on an estate where there was plenty of shooting.

It might date from the 18th century, but in recent years Bramham Park has hosted events including the popular horse trials and Leeds Festival which attracts 75,000 people to see some of the world’s biggest music performers every summer.

Nick told me that Leeds Fest is 20 years old this year.

Talking to parents with teenage kids, the event has become something of a rite of passage for youngsters after finishing their GCSE and A level exams.

Nick told me he is also chair of the Leeds Community Foundation and started to thank me effusively for my support.

Much as I hate to miss out on compliments, I had to stop him and refer him to my companion Lee-J Walker, whose TheBusinessDesk.com has thrown its support behind the charity.

On Lee-J’s recommendation I joined the queue for the pie and pasty stall ably run by Ilkley favourite and celebrity butcher David Lishman.

Pies, pasties, sausage and game rolls and Yorkshire salami were all being served up with gusto by the charismatic Mr Lishman.

I’d say his stand in front of the stage in the King’s Hall proved one of the most popular attractions of the day – even more so than the beer.

Although it might have been pipped for attention by the female lawyer wearing a tight mohair jumper who was surrounded by pasty-chomping blokes.

I just hope they didn’t dribble on their tweeds and gilets.


I JOKED last week that I had been the subject of a chant at a football match recently.

Well, after leaving the Ilkley Beer Festival, having not had quite enough to drink, Lee-J and I repaired to the Station pub next door.

I saw a few familiar faces and chatted to a few people before heading off to the toilet.

On my return I walked into the bar and one man launched into a raucous chant of: “There’s only one David Parkin!”

I was genuinely flattered.

Until he slowly slid sideways down the bench he was sitting on and was subsequently carried out by his drinking companions.

Have a great weekend.

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