David Parkin on playing Top Trumps with Gareth Southgate

TANNED, relaxed, recharged and now raring to go again, he’s still got so much to achieve.

Both popular with women and men and an undoubted style icon, the future is looking bright for a man who is charismatic and inspiring.

Yes I’m back from holiday and “ready to go again” as they say in football.

If you thought I was talking about the England football manager and only clicked on this article because of the headline then you better scroll down to the bottom of the blog.

Those of you with wider interests and a fascination with how I spend my time can read on.

Is anyone still there?

Probably not, but I’ll crack on anyway.

I’ve just spent a week in Menorca.

Yes I know I chose a week when the UK was basking in record temperatures to escape to foreign climes.

It was a last minute booking but not last minute enough to avoid the Government changing the rules again and sticking the Balearic Islands on the amber travel list just after we arrived.

Apparently the decision was driven by the rising number of cases which stemmed from the groups of British youngsters partying in Majorca and Ibiza after finishing school and college and flying out when the Spanish islands were moved to the green list.

Given some of the stories you hear about what goes on in Magaluf and Palma Nova then catching a dose of Covid is probably the least of their worries.

Flying out and flying back through Leeds Bradford Airport, I’d never seen it so quiet.

It was well organised, smooth and the Jet2.com flights weren’t too full.

I’m astounded that WH Smith at the airport still hasn’t worked out how many early flights there are and so arrange to get the national newspapers delivered earlier.

But then again at 6am the Starbucks cafe could only serve coffee because their fresh food delivery hadn’t arrived.

The quiet terminal meant it was easy to get through the airport and the scrote count was blessedly low.

The traditional sight of the tattooed hordes guzzling lager in the bar at the terminal before they board often puts me off my pre-flight pumpkin spiced skinny latte.

Given we were flying to Menorca, a more subdued island than its larger, boisterous neighbours, fellow passengers tended to be more mature couples and families.

There was a younger pair on our flight who looked like they might be auditioning for Love Island.

I think they’d have a better chance on Fantasy Island.

You can take your pick whether that’s the theme park in Skegness or the 1970s US series featuring a white-suited Ricardo Montalban and his energetic sidekick Tattoo.

At least nobody shouted: “The plane! The plane!” when we got on board.

Once you’ve got your head around the current restrictions and rules on travellers then, with a little planning, getting abroad and home again safely and relatively smoothly is possible.

We filled in a passenger locator form for Spain before we flew, we did antigen tests in the 48 hours before we returned and filled in our UK Government Passenger Locator Forms.

When you check-in at the airport for your return flight as well as your passport and boarding pass you also need to have your negative test confirmation form handy, the Passenger Locator form as well as opening up your NHS app on your phone to show proof of having two vaccinations for Covid.

It was really nice to get away and relax.

It is only when you are away from home for a few days that you realise how much time you have spent at home over the last 18 months.

And as my grandmother used to say, a change is as good as a rest.

Both is even better.


MY comments about the potential takeover of Yorkshire supermarket group Morrisons by a consortium of US investors brought some interesting opinions and memories from readers.

Richard Poole observed: “I think there are many still waiting for the Amazon bid to come in.

“With the food tie-in already in place and the possible building of an Amazon super warehouse just down the road from Morrisons’ head office, one might speculate there may be a bid incoming sometime soon.”

Good point.

With potential rival bidder Apollo now seeking to join the Fortress-led consortium’s £6.3bn bid, it looks like any competing offer will have to come from an organisation with the resources of Amazon.

Maybe it was something Jeff Bezos pondered while he was on his recent trip.

He takes a rocket ship to space and mulls a multi-billion pound bid for Morrisons.

I take a Jet2 flight to Menorca and contemplate whether I’m going to have a cheese and ham toastie or a KitKat.

When the story broke about the Morrisons board agreeing to a takeover offer from the Fortress investment group it was early on a Saturday morning.

Fortunately for the BBC, its business editor Simon Jack was one of the two presenters of its flagship Radio 4 Today programme that morning.

He was able to provide clear analysis of the potential deal and what it might mean for the wider British retail sector.

Within 20 minutes he had a retail expert on the line to put everything into context.

Even better that the expert he called on was my old school friend Ged Futter.

Ged – or Gerald as he was known then – and I grew up in the same Derbyshire village, went to the same schools and were in Cubs and Scouts together.

In fact I’m sure he was seconder when I was sixer in our village Cub Scout pack.

Ged had a successful career with Morrisons’ Yorkshire rival Asda before launching his own consultancy where he has become the UK’s leading expert on GSCOP.

Yes, I needed to look it up.

It is the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, the legislation designed to regulate the relationship between supermarkets and their suppliers.

Next morning Ged was on the sofa of BBC Breakfast discussing Morrisons and what the potential deal might mean for consumers and the British food industry.

Entrepreneur Mike Firth, who ran Yorkshire Food Group, knew Sir Ken Morrison well and he remembers a story told him by the Knight of the Aisles.

“On a Friday at 5pm he used to stand by the exit door at Morrisons head office and ask people on the way out – ‘What have you learnt today?’

“I bet there was a rush to miss that moment!” Mike chuckled.

Christine Boothroyd, who runs The Chambers, very stylish and impressive serviced apartments in Leeds, commented: “I love your journalism, often chuckle at your observations, but never has an article exactly and beautifully voiced my inner thoughts on Morrisons!

“We had the American/Canadian gurus stay at The Chambers during the makeover [of Morrisons] five years ago.

They changed with the times, improved and updated their stores, some of their suggestions  were not implemented, but I’m sure they got a good indication of Ken’s very Yorkshire business plan.

“I am, like you, saddened it’s coming to an end!”

And finally reader Dave Robbins emailed with another vivid memory of the supermarket grandee.

“Dear Adonis [if you can’t understand why he called me that, please refer to the last blog]

“Great read as ever this morning. A quick Ken Morrison recollection: one morning, cycling across Bradford Moor whilst I waited at a set of traffic lights, a Rolls-Royce pulled up alongside me.

“With all due respect to the denizens of Bradford 3, not the vehicle marque one normally sees around there. So I glanced inside and spotted a uniformed chauffeur up front and Sir Ken in the passenger seat alongside.

“I smiled and he gave me a cheery Bradfordian market stall holder wave. Not sure that I would have the same reaction from Lord MacLaurin of Knebworth.”

You are right there Dave.

There was only one Sir Ken.


IN the run-up to England’s European Championships final versus Italy, I’m told there was only one subject of conversation.

Well, in Harrogate at least.

You could call it Gareth Southgate Top Trumps.

If you remember the old card game – although I gather it is undergoing something of a renaissance – it featured cards bearing the photographs and statistics of warships, aeroplanes, tanks, motorbikes – even dinosaurs.

The aim of the game is to win all the cards and players do that by reading out one of the stats from their card that they think is the highest.

It has been around for forty-odd years and when I was a kid I had the First and Second World War warships packs of Top Trumps.

Modern limited edition versions include one on Famous Moustaches to mark Movember and a Spitting Image pack of cards.

I always thought they could have done a pack based on FHM’s Top 100 Women.

Although it probably doesn’t fit in with these woke times in which we live.

I still remember most of the relevant key stats.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, in Harrogate.

Where the conversation du jour is based on how well you know local resident Gareth Southgate.

Even women who don’t like football have been arguing about how well they know the England manager’s wife over coffee in Weetons and Prosecco in The Ivy.

Well, this must be the right time for me to throw my Gareth Southgate trump card into the mix.

It is pretty unique.

I’ve never met him.

But I believe he is a fan of my work.

Have a great weekend.

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