David Parkin on mixing business and pleasure, networking as an art and football failings

SO there I was at a rugby club beer festival talking high finance, high fashion and in high spirits.

I’m really warming to the idea of business development opportunities at beer festivals, but I think I need to go to a few more before I’m completely sure.

Historic Leeds rugby club Leodiensian RUFC held their annual beer festival last week, better known as Leosfest.

I was a guest of, FDYL, once known as Finance Directors Yorkshire Ltd, but now revelling in the freedom that abbreviation brings.

The FDYL team, who we are working with on an upcoming event, are a talented and entertaining group to spend time with.

Neil Muffitt, James Roach and Mark Raven boast strong pedigrees as finance directors and great knowledge and contacts which has seen them build up a network of FDs and financial controllers ready to take on assignments ranging from part-time and full-time to interim roles.

The Muff, the Roach and the Raven: it sounds like an adult version of an Aesop’s Fable.

Guests at the event were a diverse crew – from a plastics entrepreneur with a line in good jokes to a financier who had put funds into a high street retail chain.

It was good to see Tim Brear of Harrogate-based financial planners Brook Dobson Brear as the conversation and beer flowed in the early May sunshine.

I wandered inside the club house to replenish my glass and complimented an older gentlemen wearing a rather flamboyant paisley shirt.

“Is it Duchamp?” I asked.

“No its the best former table cloth in the business,” bellowed the plastics entrepreneur, who was sitting at the same table and had earlier told me he boasts a wardrobe of 150 Duchamp shirts.

It turns out that the chap in the loud shirt worked at the BBC for 25 years as one of its top dressers, outfitting actors in all its major productions.

“I’ve had ‘em all through my hands, ducky,” he informed me through pursed lips with a rather dreamy look in his eyes.

I repaired to the bar where a large man in construction was deep in contemplation.

“Look at that lot,” he said to me.

“I know, what a lovely variety of beers they’ve got on tap, I think I might try a half of summer ale,” I replied.

“I don’t mean the beer son, look at the bar maids, what a bunch, when I say I like the Yorkshire blonde, I’m not talking about Collingham Brewery’s latest beer – know what I mean!”

I looked over the bar where the ladies serving were resplendent in german beer maid outfits.

A little bit of journalistic research revealed that they work for a business called Bar Crawl Babes that provide hostesses for events like stag parties and pub crawls around the UK.

One of the better informed Leos members told me that in less enlightened times these waitresses were referred to as Beer Bitches.

Fortunately society has moved on and such terminology has been relegated back to the prehistoric times from whence it came.

Phrases like that just shouldn’t be used to describe such charming dolly birds.


I REALISED I don’t get as many invites as I used to this week when I walked into an event and was pleased to see Colin Glass.

Actually, I don’t mean it like it sounds.

It’s just Colin has long been the most ubiquitous man in Yorkshire at office openings and networking events.

There was a time that if I didn’t immediately see him at event then I’d get nervous and go looking for him.

An accountant and serial non-executive director, he’s forged a reputation for supporting start-ups from a wide variety of sectors, Colin is an über networker.

I once heard he’d blagged his way into an under-25s networking event when he must have been four decades older than most people there.

I saw him this week at a lecture supported by Yorkshire Bank at Leeds Beckett University’s Rose Bowl.

Alex Simpson, supermarket group Asda’s general counsel, company secretary and chief ethics officer, was speaking about the world of governance within business.

“You look smart,” said someone as I poured myself a coffee wearing my best pinstripe suit.

“I thought I better make an effort as my bank manager is here. If I look prosperous then it might give him a bit more confidence next time he looks at my account balance,” I replied.

Alex Simpson, formerly of Northern Foods and who was a corporate lawyer at Walker Morris, gave a thoughtful presentation.

He was introduced and thanked by two academics from Leeds Business School who perhaps underlined why the worlds of academia and business don’t often tend to merge well together.

One of them even told the audience he’d been reminded to introduce himself as he usually forgets.

May be as the recipient of an honorary degree from the university three years ago, I should offer my services to help facilitate such events?


GIVEN the depth of candidates available, I’d be interested in your nominations for who you think is the most crass, insincere person on television.

My suggestion would be football pundit Chris Kamara.

“Kammy”, who has coined the catchphrase “Unbelievable, Jeff”, on Sky Sports, now never fails to toss it in to every fleeting appearance he makes reporting on the progress of matches during Soccer Saturday.

Last weekend, introducing the Goals on Sunday show, he welcomed viewers saying that the programme featured goals from the “penultimate” weekend of the football season.

“That’s a good word for a Sunday morning, isn’t it,” he beamed at fellow presenter Ben Shephard, “someone told it to me yesterday.”

God help us.

Perhaps they should draft in Giles Brandreth and Stephen Fry for the final show of the season.


TALKING of football, did you see the splendid scenes as Leicester City were presented with their Premier League trophy on Sunday?

With the crowd serenaded by Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli, the club embraced the community as they put on a show that suggested they had been winning top football trophies for years, rather than claiming their first ever top division title.

Contrast that to a couple of days later when Burnley were presented with the Championship trophy outside the town hall.

As local aldermen and women shuffled awkwardly ahead of the presentation, players walked along the pavement to be presented with their medals on the steps of the council building.

Well, all except the club’s player of the year Joey Barton and team mate James Tarkowski, who stood empty handed as club officials fumbled around in a confused daze.

It turns out that there were only 25 medals, but 27 players turned up.

It prompted hilarious chants from the gathered throng of supporters of: “You don’t know what you’re doing.”

More laughter followed when the trophy was passed around the squad the club’s player of the year refused to lift it, instead holding aloft an inflatable one he got from the crowd.

It’s a funny old game, but sometimes all the better for not being completely airbrushed and stage managed.

Have a great weekend.

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