David Parkin on Ol’ Blue Eyes and getting a black eye from readers

REGULAR readers of this blog will have deduced that my taste in music is rather “retro”.

In fact I don’t like anything that was recorded post circa 1963.

Actually, that’s a lie.

There have been a few modern classics that have piqued my interest in recent years by all time classic artists such as Atomic Kitten, Steps and The Reynolds Girls.

The latter’s heartfelt lament, “I’d rather jack, than Fleetwood Mac”, really struck a chord with a teenage Parky…

Anyway, where was I?

Nowhere really.

Last week I indulged my nostalgic bent by seeing the show, Sinatra The Musical at the Birmingham Rep theatre.

My partner in crime was veteran Leeds lawyer Rodney Dalton, a man who shares – and has certainly fuelled – my taste in music, films and generally the “good life” as lyrically described by Tony Bennett.

The show, a collaboration between Birmingham Rep, Universal Music Group and Frank Sinatra Enterprises which is run by the legend’s daughter Tina Sinatra, only ran for five weeks before it finished its scheduled run at the weekend.

The Rep theatre has earned a reputation for launching new shows – indeed, it is putting on the world premiere of a play based on the classic film “Withnail and I” next year.

The Sinatra show, which has played to full houses during its relatively short run in Brum, is now tipped to head to the West End and then Broadway.

It makes sense.

If shows about Frankie Valli, The Drifters, Tina Turner and Buddy Holly can pack theatres for years then you’d think one about arguably the most popular entertainer of the 20th century would have legs in theatreland.

What I enjoyed about the show is that despite his daughter being involved, it doesn’t try to deliver an unvarnished version of the great crooner.

And it focuses on a specific period of his career – his breakthrough in 1942, his rise and spectacular fall and collapse of his marriage after Sinatra’s torrid affair with movie goddess Ava Gardner and then his incredible comeback.

There are plenty of the numbers he turned into classics included in the show and it doesn’t self-indulge by chucking in later, better known numbers like My Way.

It was a cracking show, written by Joe DiPietro and Kathleen Marshall, who have five Tony Awards between them.

Sinatra is visually stunning with great performances and Matt Doyle in the title role stands out not because he particularly looks or sounds like Frank but because he doesn’t try to.

But who could really do a perfect impression of the man known as “The Voice”.

I reflected on that with Rodney over a Jack Daniels (it’s what Frank would have drunk) after the show in a subterranean Brummie bar called Bacchus.

But then I’ve never seen anyone do a decent impression of Rodney Dalton, the Yorkshire legal world’s answer to Dean Martin.


BEFORE the show I booked lunch at Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill which enjoys panoramic views of Britain’s second city from its 25th floor setting.

I had to pay £5 each to secure us a window table and I’m glad I paid extra for the view rather than the food.

A pre-lunch martini was superbly mixed and served and starters were passable but our steaks, both ordered medium rare, were served medium.

Despite having a private champagne lounge and two private dining rooms the restaurant staff told us there was nowhere to hang our coats and so we should put them on the back of our seats.

The plush velvet chairs at our table had deep slashes in their upholstery which made me wonder whether Freddy Krueger and Edward Scissorhands had recently indulged in a boozy lunch at Marco’s place.


HAVING noted some of my previous comments about the TV show Steph’s Packed Lunch, a number of people have sent me links to stories reporting the demise of the daytime programme, which is broadcast live from a studio at Leeds Dock.

Apparently Channel 4 has decided to can the show from the end of this year.

The live daily show launched from host Steph McGovern’s living room in Harrogate during the first Covid lockdown in 2020.

If you ask me, it went downhill from there.

Apparently Steph’s neighbours in the upmarket North Yorkshire spa town got so annoyed by the comings and goings of production vehicles and staff that they started to ring her doorbell while the show was going live.

Now that bit, I’d have watched.

Channel 4 put the cancellation of the show down to “changing audience habits”, i.e. they’re not watching it.

Despite being cancelled, the show is going out with a bang, this week, marking Halloween with an insightful discussion about whether horror films are good for your health.

Two questions arise from the demise of Steph’s Packed Lunch.

Is Channel 4 going to replace it with any other programmes broadcast from the city which it now, half-heartedly calls home?

And what’s going to become of the seemingly endless stream of needy show-offs who have appeared as guests?


NOW her TV show has been cancelled, perhaps Steph McGovern will go into politics.

That’s where former TV performers with limited opportunities seem to end up, if Tracy Brabin is anything to go by.

The Mayor of West Yorkshire appears to spend a great deal of her time championing the creative industries and was recently back at it, highlighting the need for a “fabulous” hotel in West Yorkshire where Tom Cruise can stay the next time he’s here filming.

Now I’m not privy to the Hollywood star’s travel plans, but I don’t think he’s currently got anything in the diary.

He was in North Yorkshire in 2021 filming the latest Mission Impossible film, but Mayor Brabin is worried about the fact that neighbouring West Yorkshire doesn’t have the top-notch hotels needed to host the Tinseltown A-lister.

Her comments were prompted by a wider discussion about how the region drums up more appetite for tourism.

Well, it could have started by not trashing its own tourism agency and then putting responsibility for the future of attracting visitors into the hands of those running local authorities.

A recent report by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority found that “limited hotel capacity outside of Leeds” was a “challenge”, when compared to others across the North.

And at a meeting of the authority’s culture committee, Calderdale councillor Jenny Lynn said that the local council there had recently put a 16th century building up for sale which “would make a fabulous hotel”.

I think we all could go out and point to a building that would make a marvellous hotel, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

At the meeting Mayor Brabin added that when the region’s top hotels are full, “we are a little bit stymied.”

With the brains trust in charge of tourism in this region  I’d say we are even more stymied.


THANK you for your kind reaction to last week’s photograph of me emerging from a Loch in Scotland. If you didn’t see it then I’ve included it again below. Readers of a nervous disposition may not want to scroll down much further.

“The Loch Ness Monster” was one of the kinder comments.

A woman who I previously regarded as an admirer of my talents reacted with the words “Sweet Jesus” while my comparing it to a James Bond moment brought this reaction from retired PR guru Malcolm Cowing: “Not exactly an Ursula Andress moment is it?”.

He’d obviously had a bad round at Pannal Golf Club that morning.

No, the analogy I had in mind was to the buff hunk who has played 007 in recent years.

But even that was shot down by another formerly supportive reader.

“More like Wendy Craig than Daniel Craig…” responded former Yorkshire Finance Director of the Year Andy Finneran.

He was clearly pleased with his comment because he also liked it on Facebook.

But then again so did quite a lot of other people I used to regard as friends.

What do you mean, who’s Wendy Craig?

All together now: ”Love is like a butterfly, as soft and gentle as a sigh. The soft and gentle moods of love are like it’s satin wings…”

Have a great weekend.

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