David Parkin talks trains and talent

NOW here’s a funny thing.

I went to Scarborough the other day.

No, that’s not the funny bit.

What’s funny is that my wife and I left the house at the same time on Tuesday morning and she got to London, which is 200 miles from Leeds, two hours before I got to Scarborough, which is 70 miles away.

Now if there had been industrial action by rail staff, a “weather event” as the forecasters like to call them these days or even leaves on the line I could have understood why my trip to the east coast took the best part of five hours.

But there weren’t.

It was a series of problems which seem to beset our railway system on a daily basis and which, individually make passengers’ journeys a challenge, but when they happen together make what was a simple trip within Yorkshire seem like an experience on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

A cancellation of one service and then another that was delayed because of signalling problems meant I spent a large portion of Tuesday morning at Leeds Station trying to work out how I could get to Scarborough.

Fortunately I bumped into Andrew MacKenzie of Begbies Traynor who had also been invited by Andrew Jackson, the Hull and York law firm, to Yorkshire’s cricket match against Durham at the historic Scarborough Cricket Club.

Mobile phones logged into Trainline.com, we moved from platform to platform assessing our options before deciding it would be easier to get the original direct service which finally arrived in Leeds 90 minutes late.

We boarded and sat back and relaxed until the train arrived at York and we were informed that the service was terminating because the driver had reached his maximum number of driving hours.

With another one hour wait for the next train to Scarborough we attempted to find somewhere we could sit outside in the sun and enjoy a coffee.

That proved fruitless so we decided to cut our losses and have a pint in the station bar where we met Jamey Hollingshead, commercial manager at TheBusinessDesk.com who had also been invited to the cricket by Andrew Jackson.

We ordered our drinks and were informed by the barman that they would have to be served in plastic cups because the pub’s dishwasher was broken.

“Oh that’s typical! Everything’s going wrong today!” exclaimed Andrew as I shook my head in disgust.

We then agreed that in the whole scheme of things, it would probably be deemed a ‘first world problem’.

With a further delay to the service we caught from York to Scarborough, we finally walked into the cricket ground just as the players were about to break for lunch.

My hosts from Andrew Jackson, the warm and jovial Chris Waterhouse and Adam Sinclair, welcomed us to their marquee at the side of the pitch just as the heavens opened and it pounded it down with rain for much of the afternoon.

Which meant conversation, rather than cricket, was the order of the day and, to be honest I probably prefer that.

I chatted to Scarborough Cricket Club president Bill Mustoe about the half million pounds of investment into facilities that has secured the future of first class cricket matches at North Marine Road.

Guests included former Yorkshire County Cricket Club and ECB chairman Colin Graves, former MCC chairman Phillip Hodson, Sir Geoffrey Boycott and Dickie Bird and former YCCC chief executive Mark Arthur who resigned in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism crisis.

I went up to say hello to Phillip and his wife Sally Ann, who I met through Guy Martin-Laval at La Grillade many years ago.

Both have successfully overcome health challenges in recent years with Phillip treated for cancer and Sally Ann hit very hard by Covid.

Colin Graves, who successfully built up the Costcutter retail chain and whose millions YCCC have come to rely on in recent years, remembered that we gave him a Masters award when I was at TheBusinessDesk.com.

What struck me was how sprightly former umpire Dickie Bird is at 90 years of age and how high Geoff Boycott sits in his seat.

He was at least six inches higher than everybody else on his table and looked a little bit like a tribal chieftain surveying his kingdom.

It prompted me to wonder if he sits on a cushion and, if so, does he bring his own or make prior arrangements with his hosts?

I know there are more important things going on in the world that I should be thinking about, but that’s just me.


AS I made my way to the table for lunch Adam Sinclair introduced me to his father Michael.

“This is David Parkin from the Yorkshire Post who is a big LS1 Leeds United fan,” said Adam.

Well I suppose getting one out three right isn’t bad.

Michael was seated next to me at the table and was fascinating company over lunch.

He ran the family business, the York fine china and crystal shop Mulberry Hall, until consumers decided they wanted to eat off plain white crockery and the business closed.

“What did you do then?” I asked Michael.

“I became a vicar,” he replied matter-of-factly.

He told me he and Adam had been educated at Repton School in Derbyshire, my home county.

I knew the names of several of the families whose sons had been fellow pupils with Adam and Michael told me that three Archbishops of Canterbury were educated at Repton in the last century.

A fellow guest told me that Michael Sinclair had appeared on the TV programme Piers Morgan’s Life Stories.

It was the one featuring football manager Harry Redknapp and Michael recounted the story of an horrific traffic accident at the 1990 World Cup in which he and Redknapp, who he had got to know when he was chairman of York City, were among the passengers in a minibus that was hit head-on by a car on a road south of Rome.

The crash killed Redknapp’s friend Brian Tiler and three of the passengers in the car.

Tiler was a former footballer who had played for Rotherham and Aston Villa and became managing director at AFC Bournemouth.

Strangely, I knew Brian Tiler’s late brother Paul and his wife Kath, friends of my parents and who lived near us in rural Derbyshire.

Small world.


THE host of the table I was sitting on at Scarborough was Helen Mellors who is the head of Andrew Jackson’s agriculture and landed estates department.

I hadn’t met Helen before but given she regularly generously topped up her guests’ wine glasses, I warmed to her immediately.

I pride myself on being able to place a person’s accent but struggled to work out whereabouts in the world her soft, lilting speech was from.

“I’m from the Borders,” she informed me. “I’ve probably had to adapt the way I speak a bit to be understood!

“I can’t use words that we always used to use in the Borders like ‘thrice’ because people don’t understand it and nobody uses it any more.”

I said I begged to differ.

“Nay, nay and thrice nay!” was a favourite phrase of comic Frankie Howerd.

And if it is good enough for him, it is good enough for me.

But I don’t think that convinced Helen that it is poised to return to modern parlance.


ANOTHER of the guests sitting on my table was Adrian Hitchenor who I would call a recruiter, but from a glance at the website of his firm, HW Global, describe themselves slightly differently.

“We’re a global talent acquisition partner”, they say, which perhaps explains why they’ve never given me a bell.

Anyway it was good to catch up with Adrian who told me he had become a father for the fourth time just a few weeks ago.

We strolled up to the buffet, laden with salmon, prawns, roast beef, turkey and an array of salads, vegetables and perfectly baked crusty bread.

“This is some spread, I wonder who provided it?” mused Adrian to me as we filled our plates.

“It was us,” said a man in an apron serving food to guests. “We’re called A&G Caterers, I’m the A,”

We both told him how impressed we were with the buffet.

“Don’t tell anyone about us, we’re too busy and don’t want any more work,” he replied.

It made me wonder if the G in A&G Caterers shares his business partner’s unique approach to business development.


HAVING celebrated his 60th birthday with a recent party, dealmaker Jonny Hick was hosted for breakfast at The Ivy in Harrogate by his old friend Richard Jackson on his actual birthday last Friday.

Richard, a tailoring grandee and serial entrepreneur who is a former High Sheriff of West Yorkshire and has been a huge fundraiser for the Prince’s Trust, kindly invited me to join them along with former BMB Menswear owner Peter Lucas and Mike Firth and his long-serving assistant and factotum Christine Clayton.

Christine has worked with Mike for the best part of 40 years and was alongside him during his years running Yorkshire Food Group when he bought the dried fruits business of Del Monte and when he put on the Yorkshire International Business Convention.

Mike was remembering the star-studded speakers he attracted to the conventions at first, Harewood and then Harrogate.

“Neil Armstrong came to speak and spent an hour talking about everything except landing on the moon!

“I went up to him afterwards and said to him I’d paid him a fortune to come and talk to the top people in Yorkshire business about this unique experience he’d had.

“He told me: ‘Oh, I didn’t think anyone was really interested in hearing about that Mike’!”

Mike went on: “Do you know, we brought former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H W Bush, Colin Powell and Mikhail Gorbachev to speak in Yorkshire and the thing people ask me about the most is: ‘Did you really put on Cannon and Ball after lunch at the YIBC?’!!”

Have a great weekend.

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