David Parkin gets a bit overwhelmed

I WAS quite overwhelmed by the kind and thoughtful messages sent by readers of last week’s blog.

Despite seeing the weekly readership numbers for my blog, they are only numbers and so when people take the trouble to write a comment or send a message or to ‘like’ it on social media, then that puts a human face on those numbers.

I suppose I saw last week’s blog about my recent wedding as just another blog.

But the fact it was a bit more personal than usual clearly struck a chord with those who read it.

The blog always has something of me in it, but it is usually commentary about my encounters and meetings with other people rather than about what is happening in my life.

Don’t worry. In a bid to up the readership numbers and seek further validation, I won’t be exposing you to too much more of my personal life.

I’ve always said that everyone has a story to tell and I’d much rather use my weekly “ramblings” as some have kindly called them, to tell other people’s stories rather than just bore you with my own.

But what was particularly heart-warming about the response last week was the kindness displayed, people seemed genuinely pleased about my happiness.

And that certainly did something to melt the sometimes cold, hard cynical shell around me that perhaps built up from a career in journalism – and far too long spent being single.

It is easier to see the worst in people, but so much healthier to see the best.

Thank you for your kind comments.

Old friends, former colleagues, contacts I haven’t seen for decades, council leaders, a Lord Lieutenant, captains of industry – the messages were all most welcome and extremely heart-warming.

It made a misanthrope–in-the-making very joyful.

Thank you.

I do intend to reply to everyone.

But if you sent champagne or another such gift, I will respond that little bit quicker.

You see, it didn’t take long for me to revert to type.


I’VE said before that perhaps my favourite thoroughfare in London is Jermyn Street.

The traditional street where the capitals shirtmakers sold their wares still has many of the traditional old names now complemented by Italian tailors, Northamptonshire shoemakers and some of the newer British menswear retailers.

Punctuated by a couple of stylish arcades that lead to Piccadilly, it is a great place for a wander and the shop windows excite my interest, even if the price tags on the clothes displayed are a bit of a shock.

When I was in London last month I noticed a new establishment in a former shop near the rear of Fortnum & Mason.

It is called the Centre for British Photography established by the Hyman Collection, one of the largest private collections of British photography set up by Claire and James Hyman, a doctor and art dealer.

The couple, who auctioned off many of their works in 2020 to raise money for the NHS Covid-19 Appeal and Trussel Trust, have created a free exhibition space in one of the most expensive areas of London for visitors to enjoy.

One of the exhibitions is of images of Spitting Image puppets that had previously been acquired by the Hyman Collection.

In 2015 it commissioned photographers Andrew Bruce and Anna Fox to take a series of studio shots of the puppets created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law.

One of the most popular British television programmes of the 1980s and 1990s, watched by an audience of 15 million people at its peak, Spitting Image featured puppet caricatures of prominent celebrities of the time, including international politicians and the Royal Family, among others.

For those of us who watched it, we all had our favourite puppets – mine were Thora Hird and Alan Bennett in bed together – and we can all probably still sing the words to The Chicken Song.

But the images in the photographs intrigued me. They were only of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet ministers.

A sign explained the thinking behind it:

“Photographed either against brightly coloured neon backdrops or shrouded by darkness, each image depicts a former Tory party member.

Rendered in extraordinary detail on large format film, at times stripped of their clothing, every mark on the latex or foam is made visible and accentuated, including signs of wear, fragility and decay.

“Presented in this way, the puppets become evocative emblems of a past era and a faded power. There is an awkward tension in these photographs between the puppets as depictions of people, as cultural icons, and also as crumbling modern artefacts.”

I’m not great art expert and definitely not a supporter of any political party, but is that art or is it artists who didn’t agree with the politics of the Thatcher government dancing on its grave?


JUST as I was about to publish this blog a lovely bunch of flowers was delivered from veteran stockbroker Keith Loudon.

Keith, who celebrates his 90th birthday next month, sent them in celebration of our wedding and he rang me last week to congratulate me.

He told me he is currently writing his autobiography with the help of a ghost writer who is a “former decent journalist” – I’m not sure whether I should take it as a slight – and as already got about 20,000 words in the bag.

During the course of our telephone conversation I think he gave me about 10,000 words of stories including the Spanish Civil War plaque he had commissioned in Leeds Town Hall commemorating those from the city who died in the conflict.

Keith, a former Conservative city councillor and Lord Mayor, got the idea for the plaque after stopping to chat to a communist orator who used to hold forth in City Square.

Anything’s an improvement on the dancing tramp and his penny whistle who currently entertains passersby attempting to navigate their way across the area of council-led devastation that used to be known as City Square.

Thanks for the flowers Keith – and the stories.

Have a great weekend.

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