David Parkin on royals and rollers

I SIGNED off my last blog with the words: “More tea vicar?” as I said I would  be busy helping my Mum with her Platinum Jubilee party over the bank holiday weekend.

Well how wrong could I be.

Not about helping out, she gave me so many jobs I was busier than a worker ant all day, from putting up bunting, blowing up balloons, hanging a flag of Her Majesty (the real one, not Mater) and then serving the sandwiches and slices from a cake decorated like a Union Jack.

But there wasn’t a clergyman in sight.

Or any tea.

It was more a case of saying: “Another Aperol Spritz Di and Anne?”

And they didn’t say no…several times.

The Friday of the Jubilee weekend certainly had the best weather and more than 30 guests joined my mother to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

I even did a little speech – well why miss the opportunity – recalling my memories of previous celebrations including the Silver Jubilee in 1977 when the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited Derby to declare it a city.

My Mum took my sister and I down to stand on a large traffic island on the outskirts of the newly created city and we waved our Union Jack flags and were fortunate enough to be on the right side of the road to have the Queen wave at us from the royal Rolls-Royce.

Fast forward 25 years and at the Golden Jubilee I was lucky enough to meet the Queen when she visited Leeds at a reception for business people at the Civic Hall.

We were all gathered in small groups around the room and the idea was that Her Majesty would enter the room and only speak to a couple of people before leaving.

However she went around the whole room and I was introduced to her as the business editor of the Yorkshire Post.

She asked me several questions and made some pertinent points about how the business centre of towns and cities used to be centred on their railway stations but how that was now changing.

Unlike many people I’ve met she didn’t just go through the motions, she had a proper conversation and appeared genuinely interested.

I can’t quite believe that happened 20 years ago.

I don’t know about you but I thoroughly enjoyed the entire four day celebration, from Trooping the Colour and the epic flypast on Thursday, to the Platinum Party at the Palace on Saturday evening and the Pageant on Sunday – not forgetting the lighting of the beacons on Thursday evening and Thomas Heatherwick’s Tree of Trees.

It made you proud to be British, perhaps something that in recent years we have lost sight of, given the pandemic and the fractious and divisive nature of politics.

The last time I saw the public unified in such a way was the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire – sunshine, smiles and people united by a common bond.

Watching Trooping the Colour, I took a particular interest in the boots of the regiments of guards and the Household Cavalry on Horse Guards Parade given the feature I wrote for the Yorkshire Post Magazine last year about Leeds firm The Boot Repair Co which repairs all the ceremonial boots for the British Army.

The Party at the Palace brought together an eclectic array of musical talent combined with dramatic images projected across the facade of Buckingham Palace to the state-of-the-art drone light show which created a corgi and the Queen’s handbag in the sky above her London abode.

That was created by SKYMAGIC, a company based in Singapore and in Holbeck in Leeds.

Of the musical performances, the Queen and Paddington tapping out the opening beats of Queen’s We Will Rock You on their china teacups had to be the highlight.

And the American singer Celeste’s singing style might not be everyone’s cup of tea but her collaboration with composer Hans Zimmer on Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World while incredible images of wildlife were projected on Buckingham Palace behind them was mesmeric.

I know a lot of people took advantage of the long bank holiday weekend to get away on trips abroad – airport queues and flight cancellations permitting – but this was one occasion when I was quite happy to be at home.


I’LL have to put my theatre debut on hold.

The show I was putting on for cartoonist Graeme Bandeira at the City Varieties Music Hall at the end of the month has had to be postponed.

A lot of people said they were keen to attend but unfortunately ticket sales didn’t reflect that.

You can’t put on a show in a pretty large theatre on goodwill alone and so we’ve taken the difficult decision to postpone the show.

We will look to put it on in a different venue in the near future.

Graeme is an infectious, fun and very talented character and deserves the opportunity to tell his story.

The good news is that his freelance career has started very promisingly with plenty of commissions including some from his fans from TV like Christine Talbot and Steph McGovern.


CONGRATULATIONS to Wales on qualifying for the football World Cup for the first time in 64 years.

The land of my father (he was born in Cardiff) has had plenty of near misses but has not sent a team to the World Cup since 195

When I worked at the Western Mail one of my colleagues was a talented journalist called Mario Risoli who wrote a book about the last time the Welsh sent a team to the international tournament – Sweden in 1958.

Leeds United legend John Charles and his brother Mel, Ivor Allchurch and Cliff Jones were in the squad that made it through to the quarter finals but lost 1-0 to Brazil with the goal scored by a 17-year-old called Pele.

Mario’s book, written in 1998, was called ‘When Pele Broke Our Hearts’ and he interviewed many of those who had been in the team.

It rightly garnered some glowing reviews with the Sunday Times declaring it  “terrific…a lovely story, well told and, best of all, you don’t have to be Welsh to enjoy it”.

Total Football said: “If you were to write a surreal football comedy script tinged with pathos, personal tragedy, heroism, politics, adventure and endeavour, you couldn’t begin to emulate the story of Wales in 1958…well-crafted…meticulously researched”.

Some of the stories Mario revealed were quite amazing.

Like the team going to London to stay in a hotel before setting off for Sweden and being taken out onto Hyde Park to play a training match with jumpers for goalposts.

When they got to London Airport to fly out to Stockholm, Welsh football officials discovered that there weren’t enough seats on the flight for all the players and the men in blazers from the Football Association of Wales.

So they left some of the players behind with instructions to get a later flight to make room for all the officials.

You get the feeling that the powers that be in football would still do this if they could get away with it.


THIS blog is a bit shorter than usual this week as I’ve been working on an event for transport group Stagecoach and I’m compering a business event about culture today.

It’s in Bridlington.

Jawaharlal Nehru wrote that: “Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”

And he only made it as far as Filey.

I’ll let you know next week how I get on.


I LEARNED something new the other day.

To be honest, I learn plenty of new things every day.

We found a dead pigeon outside our house which had clearly been killed by a cat or a fox.

With mainly white feathers, I noticed it had a ring on its leg and noted the letters and numbers and logged on to the Royal Pigeon Racing Association website where it explained how to report a missing bird.

What confused me was that it said all British racing pigeons would have a ring starting with the letters GB and the pigeon I found had a ring with the letter NRC.

I typed the numbers on the ring into the website and a couple of days later had a call from a racing pigeon fancier from Birmingham who said he believed I’d found his pigeon.

By that time, my more resourceful fiance Harriet had deduced that NRC stood for Northern Roller Club and contacted the club secretary in the North East to report the bird missing.

What I learned was that it wasn’t a racing pigeon, but a roller pigeon that I had found.

Roller pigeons are a variety that are selected for their ability to tumble or roll in the air.

Varieties of roller pigeons include the Galatz Roller, the Oriental Roller and the Parlor Roller.

And particularly popular is the Birmingham Roller.

If I had one I’d name it after Noddy Holder or Roy Wood.

Now don’t tell me you never learn anything from reading this blog.


Is anyone still there?

Have a great weekend.

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