David Parkin on the Boss in Madrid, banking on football failure and getting naked in Hull

MADRID is one of my favourite European cities for a short break.

It’s got everything you would expect a major capital city to have – but without being the size of London and other sprawling metropolises.

You can easily traverse the Spanish capital on foot in a day, but I’d suggest plenty of stops for tapas washed down with the speciality drink of the house, whether that be sherry, vermouth, vino or a chilled Mahou beer.

And it is at night that the city really comes alive, with people of all ages plus many families sitting in busy squares until the early hours of the morning with not a hint of bad behaviour or drunkenness.

I was there last weekend hosted by the Madrid Convention Bureau and NH Hotels to look at the city as a potential destination for meetings and incentive groups.

I’d been to Madrid a couple of times before and thought I had a pretty good idea of what it had to offer, but this trip opened my eyes to a host of new ideas, from a Turkish bath at a traditional hamman to a tour of the impressive Casino de Madrid, which isn’t a gambling den but a club for the movers and shakers of the city.

Think the Leeds Club on steroids.

We also had a whistle stop tour of Real Madrid’s Bernabau Stadium.

There were visitors from all over the world touring this football mecca, including a Mexican man who informed me he had been there for eight hours and looked like he was keen to take a selfie in every one of the 82,000 seats in the stadium.

But it wasn’t the football that has occupied my thinking since the visit.

There were two 21-year-old graduates as part of our group and when we were told that upcoming concerts at the Bernabau include Bruce Springsteen and Placido Domingo, one asked who they were.

Ok, Placido Domingo I can understand. I doubt the 21-year-old woman was even born when the Three Tenors were belting them out in their prime.

But Bruce Springsteen?

He’s still performing, and as this showed, is still filling stadiums around the world.

I once worked with a young journalist who claimed never to have heard of a well known politician who had died.

Her excuse was that she wasn’t born when the person in question was in power so why should she know them?

I said that the same could be applied to Hitler, but I bet she’d heard of him.

I fear that in today’s online world where social media is king, many people only read about things that interest them and siphon away any other news and information that they deem irrelevant.

I’m not saying young people these days are less intelligent than in the past, I actually believe the opposite.

But it should be a concern that some are growing up with a narrower view of the world.

Mind you, there was an older woman on our trip who’s thirst for knowledge went a bit too far.

I clocked early on the first evening that she liked asking questions – and the relevance of them didn’t really matter as long as she got the chance to speak.

When we were in a restaurant she was inquisitive about what ingredients were in the croquettes we were served.

After asking for a breakdown of what ham and cheese was in them, she then asked for a recipe for the breadcrumbs on the outside of the croquettes.

I didn’t sit near her at the next meal.

The trip was over far too quickly and my only regret was that I was heading home the night before a performance by Las Ketchup.

You know, they were behind that catchy 2002 ditty The Ketchup Song.

All together now:

Friday night it’s party time

Feeling ready looking fine,

Viene diego rumbeando,

With the magic in his eyes

Checking every girl in sight,

Grooving like he does the mambo.


Could have been written for me.


I ALREADY know what the challenges are of being a Derby County fan – without getting questioned about it by my bank.

But the day after I renewed my season ticket for the Championship club, currently performing their traditional end of season choke in form, my bank’s fraud department phoned me about a “suspicious” payment to Derby County Football Club.

I’d already questioned my own judgement in paying to put myself through another season of torment, now the institution that looks after my money was questioning my judgement too.

I wonder if when Derby cock it up again next season I’ll be able to reclaim the cost of my season ticket for mis-selling under the Sale of Good Act?


STOP Press: Derby beat Hull 4-0 with their best performance of the season on Tuesday, making me feel better about the season ticket renewal.

The only problem has been I haven’t been able to get hold of any Hull City fans I know to chat about it.

Perhaps Shaun Watts of Chameleon Business Interiors and Philip Jordan of Ward Hadaway are at the beauticians getting waxed and botoxed ready to appear in the mass naked art event as part of the preparation for Hull to be the UK City of Culture.

The city is to be the latest to host a one-off installation by the American photographer Spencer Tunick, who is known for his images of masses of naked people taken at locations all over the world.

If you fancy a trip to Hull and back to check it out, then it takes place on Saturday 9 July, when the weather will, it is hoped, be a little warmer and drier than the the current conditions on the east coast of England.

Organisers say Sea of Hull will give hundreds of people the opportunity to become part of the artwork and they wouldn’t want chilly weather to shrivel anyone’s enthusiasm.

Have a great weekend.

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