David Parkin on a milestone for the Lord Chamberlain and missing a deadline

NEWS arrives from a wise man.

Robert Cockcroft is a former Yorkshire Post journalist who became editor of the Barnsley Chronicle while also writing brilliant restaurant reviews for the YP.

He’s wonderful company and always a pleasure to see at any gathering of former staff from ‘Yorkshire’s National Newspaper’.

Bob dropped me a note this week with news of a big anniversary and new venture by one of Yorkshire’s best known (and best travelled) restaurateurs, Robert Chamberlain.

Or the Lord Chamberlain as Bob Cockcroft calls him.

Robert Chamberlain’s Sous le Nez en Ville restaurant is about to celebrate 30 years in business, all of them in its cosy and welcoming basement home in Leeds under the Victorian red brick building that used to house Leeds and County Liberal Club.

One of the longest established restaurants in Leeds, the French-style bistro is a popular destination with the city’s business community as well as visiting celebrities.

Sous le Nez was set up in March 1991 by Robert Chamberlain and executive chef Andrew Carter, who remain in charge.

A three-times winner of the Best Restaurant in Leeds Award, it quickly became the restaurant of choice for the Leeds business community and visiting celebrities such as Alan Bennett, David Jason, Stephen Fry and Tim West.

Robert says: “Alan Bennett would regularly occupy a quiet corner table. When it was free, some customers would ask to sit there. When one couple arrived, the lady took Bennett’s seat, but her husband insisted she moved, saying he wanted to sit there.”

After the imposition of the second lockdown last October, Robert and head chef Steve Thompson decided to develop a Yorkshire-wide, prepared meals delivery service, Sous le Nez Chez Vous.

It has proved so successful they are planning to expand into new premises to offer deliveries nationwide when Sous le Nez reopens.

Robert, a former insurance broker, opened his first restaurant in Ilkley, the change of career inspired by his love of French food and wine. Several other restaurant start-ups followed, from Lincoln to York. His Leeds bistro, a pioneer of the early-bird menu, is renowned for the length and scope of its wine list.

Apparently Bob Cockcroft sent me details of the new venture because “I know many of your distinguished readers while away their working hours there”.

I can think of one or two.

Although mainly you, Rodney.

Bob says Robert Chamberlain “speaks warmly” of me and a mention “would certainly please the Lord Chamberlain, who is like a duck out of orange sauce without a restaurant – any restaurant – to go to!”

It’s nice to be liked and it’s got to be worth me tapping the Lord Chamberlain up for a large glass of Chablis when the restaurant opens its doors again.


THERE was a lovely reaction to my piece on ‘Big Norm’ my Dad’s former photographic colleague last week.

What I also learned from Neil Hallam, the journalist who wrote the fantastic tribute to Norman, that was read out at his funeral, is that my late father, Les, did indeed take the photograph of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor with Derby County chairman Sam Longson when they joined the club in 1967.

“The Derby County photo (perfectly framed as usual) was taken by Les and I was standing just to the left of Peter Taylor when it was taken,” confirmed Neil.


FAREWELL then Captain Sir Tom Moore.

There isn’t much I can add in tribute that hasn’t already been said since the death on Tuesday of the 100-year-old charity record breaker and inspiration for a nation.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man and just when many were struggling during the early weeks of the pandemic, this incredible character emerged from relative obscurity and his simple words of encouragement and positivity helped galvanise people during an uncertain and worrying time.

He raised tens of millions for the NHS, he had a number one song, he was knighted by the Queen and appeared on the Royal Variety Performance.

But perhaps his greatest achievement was when he appeared on Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan didn’t interrupt him.


I ONLY learned this week that Yorkshire businessman Chris Ramus died last year.

He was a successful fish merchant who founded the lauded Ramus Seafood company in Harrogate in 1974.

It became a major importer of Canadian lobsters to the UK and began supplying the Bettys tearoom and restaurants business with fish in 1981 and Chris later opened fresh fish shops in both Harrogate and Ilkley.

The great and good of these upmarket Yorkshire towns all used to shop there.

When I popped in one day I saw Archie Norman, the former chairman of Asda and ITV buying one of the famous Ramus seafood platters.

When I say the great and good shopped there, I meant him not me.

Chris retired a few years ago and both shops have since closed although the business supplied fish to Fodder in Harrogate and Lishmans butchers in Ilkley as well as Booths supermarkets.

I learned about Chris’s death at the age of 72 because an inquest was held this week which heard he had taken his own life after struggling with mental health issues and the collapse of his 40-year marriage.

How tragic.

I feel for his whole family.

It is terrible to lose a loved one but it must be unimaginably difficult in such circumstances.

I first met Chris when I went to see him at his Harrogate shop for a profile interview for the Yorkshire Post business pages.

His stories about negotiating deals for lobsters in Nova Scotia and then arranging them to be flown into Britain were fascinating.

He later invited me to the opening of the new Ilkley shop.

And I’ve never forgotten the fascinating fact he told me during our first meeting.

From the tips of its claws to the end of its tail there are 33 different flavours in a lobster.


SKY Sports News is in danger of disappearing up its own backside before it remembers what it is there for – to give us up-to-date sports news rather than right-on lectures.

The problem with getting up on your high horse is that you look a bit daft when you inevitably fall off.

This week the sports news channel was trumpeting its sustainability credentials and boasting that it was going to give us the most sustainable transfer deadline day ever.

You what?

Well, apparently to highlight its renewed efforts to tackle climate change on the final day for football transfers, its presenters wore sustainably sourced clothing – jackets made of upcycled wool, shirts and trousers of organic cotton and vegan leather shoes made in a carbon-neutral process.

And it didn’t stop there.

The presenting team in the studio were sustained by deliveries of vegan pizzas, equipment was powered down when it wasn’t being used, there was no single-use plastic and all rubbish was recycled.

I can testify to that last bit being true.

I watched for several hours and both the presenters and the pundits spoke recycled rubbish all day.

The real focus though was on transport to reduce the carbon footprint.

So Sky Sports News only sent reporters to four Premier League clubs for Monday’s Transfer Deadline Day coverage with the others based at regional hubs including Leeds Dock, London and Glasgow.

A series of former players and managers joined the presenters via video calls to deliver insight and opinion throughout the day while the big name booked to join presenter Jim White in the studio for the final two hours of live coverage on Deadline Day was former Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp.

Unfortunately Harry was 50 minutes late because his car got stuck in traffic on the motorway on his journey from his home in Bournemouth to the Sky Sports News studio in West London.

It is probably a good job that it was a really quiet deadline day.

When Harry finally did arrive, Jim White then engaged him in discussion over the journey via the M3 and M4, when I wanted to know if Derby County boss Wayne Rooney had indeed secured the loan signing of a creaky old striker from Stoke and a winger who has been at Man City for five years but only ever made one Premier League appearance as a substitute.

Given our season so far, I thought it was a nice bit of business.

As ‘Arry might say.

Have a great weekend

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