David Parkin starts feeling festive, misses an invite from a Legend and sees Yorkshire food and drink take off

IF you are anything like me you’ll have been trying to avoid Christmas for the past month.

Much to the annoyance of retailers, who now switch to festive sales mode as soon as Halloween has gone.

While a near two month window of opportunity to push their goods is great for shops, it does leave many of the rest of us feeling a bit jaded by the time we reach Christmas Eve.

So I spent November avoiding tuning to the Christmas channels on the radio and not thinking about presents or decorations.

But something’s got to give and so I decided that the Michelsberg Tailoring Christmas Party last night would be the perfect time to start getting festive.

James Michelsberg is a warm and generous host, serving drinks and nibbles, including mulled wine and mince pies, outside his showroom in the Victoria Quarter.

And what a way to feel festive, surrounded by the impressive Christmas decorations in the historic arcade while the Tingley Brass Band played carols.

And while I, and I’m sure many other guests, were wearing our Michelsberg suits, they were muffled under overcoats and scarves given the plunging temperatures outside.

And the Victoria Quarter doesn’t have underfloor heating so guests hopped from one foot to another on the ice cold mosaic flooring.

Two of his customers took the sensible option and were wearing parka coats with huge fur-lined hoods.

“Don’t they remind you of East 17,” said lawyer Richard Larking as he sipped a Hellfire pale ale, resplendent in his new Michelsberg blazer.

He had opted for mother-of-pearl buttons on the jacket rather than brass, despite his interesting previous career as a teenage sailor in the Royal Navy.

I chatted to the Tingley Brass Band secretary Annette and attempted to broker a contra deal between the band and the House of Michelsberg.

“You could get James to design and make the blazers for the band,” I suggested helpfully.

“I could see them all in pink crushed velvet,” I added.

“Ooh no, that wouldn’t go down well in East Ardsley,” she replied.

After a couple more drinks, a look at the different collars available for a bespoke shirt and the new range of knitted ties, I headed off into the night.

And as I walked out of the Victoria Quarter snow was falling on Vicar Lane.

It gave me a warm, festive feeling inside.

Until a taxi drove by and splashed slush right up my trouser leg.


I’VE had a bit of a love hate relationship with Virgin East Coast Trains in recent years.

For every couple of good journeys, the train operator then disappoints with a poor one.

Last time I got a train to London I thought one of the stewards in first class was a passenger, given the amount of time she spent sitting down and eating during the journey.

But a trip to London with my parents last weekend saw the best from Virgin East Coast.

I’d won a pair of first class tickets in the raffle at the IoD Yorkshire annual dinner and arranged a trip to the capital for my parents.

Both station staff and Virgin staff at the stations and on board were fantastic – charming and helpful to a tee.

Even the return journey, where one first class carriage had been removed from the train, was smooth given the unruffled Virgin staff who handled the disruption it caused with grace and good humour.


WANDERING the streets of Mayfair, marvelling at the Christmas lights and crowds of tourists carrying designer shopping bags, I spotted a shop sign on Grafton Street, just off designer emporium-studded Bond Street.

Wartski of Llandudno always intrigued me every time I passed it when I used to work in London.

It seemed rather odd to have a shop bearing the name of a North Wales seaside resort juxtaposed among some of the world’s most luxurious stores, such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany.

Wartski is a family firm of art and antique dealers specialising in fine jewellery, gold boxes, silver and works of art by Carl Faberge which was founded in Bangor in North Wales by Morris Wartski in 1865.

Such a success was his first shop that he opened two more in the then fashionable seaside resort of Llandudno, attracting custom from King Edward VII and the colourful fifth Marquis of Anglesey, who apparently had a penchant for playing ping-pong in an emerald shirt set.

Well it beats playing tiddly winks in your pyjamas.

No dear, tiddly winks.

When Morris’ son-in-law Emmanuel Snowman opened a shop in London in 1911 it was under the name ‘Wartski of Llandudno’ and he was among the first to negotiate with the Soviet government in the 1920s, purchasing treasures such as Faberge eggs, that had been confiscated after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

And the monicker didn’t seem to do the firm any harm, attracting customers including Bing Crosby, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Ian Fleming who even featured Emmanuel’s son Kenneth in a James Bond short story.

In modern times the firm was chosen by Prince William to make the wedding ring of Welsh gold for Kate Middleton and it also made the wedding rings for his father’s marriage to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

All very glamorous. Rather unlike the place from where the firm takes its name.

I don’t know whether Llandudno has undergone a renaissance since the last time I was there, but I remember a rather bleak and faded seaside resort when I was covering the Welsh TUC annual conference back in the mid-1990s.


MY choice of football matches was poor this week.

Just after arriving in London I got a call from former Bradford, Newcastle, Leeds and Middlesbrough striker John Hendrie.

The former Barnsley manager is rightly lauded by the Boro faithful for a six-year spell in which he made 192 appearances and scored 44 goals, including the final one at Ayresome Park before Middlesbrough moved to the Riverside Stadium.

A great raconteur and engaging guy to talk to, John acts as an ambassador on match days at the club.

He had a spare ticket the game against my team, Derby County and wondered if I wanted to join him.

But I was in London and bemoaned the double tragedy that I wouldn’t be able to make my first trip to the Riverside, accompanying a Boro legend.

To add to the frustration, we won 3-0, a rare success for the Rams in the North East.

I then went to Derby’s home match against Ipswich on Tuesday and watched as Mick McCarthy’s gritty team won 1-0.

I’m trying to convince John Hendrie to take part in the Lord’s Taverners Balloon Debate next year.

He has a host of great footballing stories, including many about his friend and former Hull striker, Dean Windass.

I know he’d be a contender to win the Balloon Debate, so I’m really keen to get John involved.

I wonder how many times I will need to describe him as a ‘Legend’ to get him to agree?


THE thousands of international travellers travelling through Leeds Bradford Airport between now and Christmas Eve are set to enjoy a flavour of Yorkshire.

A brand new Deliciouslyorkshire pop-up shop at the airport features tasty products ranging from new, artisan makers to more established and iconic Yorkshire brands including local beers, ciders, spirits, jams, chutneys, sweet treats and gifts.

Judy Bell, chairman of Deliciouslyorkshire, the organisation which supports regional food and drink producers, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with the opportunity to showcase some of the world’s finest food and drink produced right here in Yorkshire and we are sure visitors will want to take a taste of Yorkshire to their loved ones for Christmas, to enjoy on their holiday or to take advantage of the ‘collect on return’ facility offered by Leeds Bradford Airport.  We would encourage them to take a little piece of Yorkshire with them and at the same time support local producers by making a purchase.”

The Deliciouslyorkshire shop, which was officially opened this week by chef Steph Moon, runs until Christmas Eve, and features 35 products ranging from Mason’s Gin to Lottie Shaw’s parkin.

I wonder what a nice bit of moist Parkin is worth?

Shut it missus.

It’s priceless.

Have a great weekend.


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