David Parkin ties the knot

YOU might have seen that this blog didn’t appear last week.

That’s because I was away getting married.

Well, you’ve got to keep yourself busy.

As you can see from the photo above and another below, we tied the knot in Venice, a favourite destination for us since Harriet and I met six years ago.

Joined by a small group of family and friends, we had a ceremony in the Venice registry office.

Although I have never been to a local authority building quite like it.

Palazzo Cavalli is a 16th century palace that overlooks the Grand Canal, near the Rialto Bridge.

With the formalities complete, we decanted into waiting water taxis (Uber these ain’t, think stylish and plush wooden motor launches) for a short tour of the Venice waterways and a stop at St Mark’s Square for photographs.

I have to say I had been doubtful about bothering to organise a photograph, hoping we could rely on guests capturing shots on their phones, but Harriet wanted a professional photographer and given I’m the son of an award-winning professional photographer, it seemed churlish to argue.

And given the images that were produced, I’m glad I didn’t.

We then went to a canal-side osteria for lunch followed by speeches from my friend, eminent lawyer Rodney Dalton and my best man, BBC journalist Simon Hare.

When I introduced Rodney, I told guests that he had a unique claim to fame: he’s the only person I have ever met who has had lunch in a three Michelin star restaurant and dinner in a three Michelin star restaurant…on the same day.

Rodney told guests that being asked to speak at the wedding of someone who has done as much public speaking as me was like being asked to sing in front of Frank Sinatra.

Which is of course rubbish, but I’ll keep repeating that line.

Given that neither Harriet’s late father and mother and my father are still with us, we asked Rodney, as something of an elder statesman, to say a few words.

In my speech I said that leaving it so long to get married might suggest that I’ve been something of a Romeo, a Casanova, a Don Juan, a Lothario.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

My longest relationship has been with a border collie cross called Basil.

And the person I’ve lived longest with, up to now, is an Irish rugby writer called Sam.

He was my lodger when we both worked at the Yorkshire Post and we lived together very happily, and platonically, for six years.

I think it is fair to say that I have always looked old for my age and Sam certainly looked young, despite being around 30.

One day a guy came to look at doing some electrical work for me and when he returned with the quote the following week, Sam answered the door and the electrician said: “Is your Dad in?”

Just over six years ago, on a rather bleak Saturday afternoon in January, I went on a date with Harriet and we spent two hours chatting over coffee in a pub.

It was clear from very early on that we both had much in common, not just the food and wine we enjoyed but more than that.

As we got to know each other we realised we shared similar values, similar upbringings, we talked about our childhoods, our grandparents and our parents.

She lost both her parents by the time she had reached her early twenties and that is tough.

I don’t know how I’d have coped in such circumstances.

But for her to have succeeded in life with such a positive and joyful outlook is testament to the person she is and I know they would be proud of her.

I got the feeling they might just be up there toasting our wedding with my Dad and our grandparents – and having a right good party.

I’ve known my best man since I was at school.

Simon and I were at the same school from the age of 11 but really became good friends in the sixth form.

He was editor of the school newspaper.

I wasn’t.

He was a prefect.

I wasn’t.

But we shared a similar sense of humour and rowed together at Derby Rowing Club and both pursued careers in journalism.

In fact I introduced him to his wife Joanne, who I was at junior school with, on holiday in Majorca.

And I have always had a great sense of pride being godfather to their eldest son James.

Simon told the audience that we had spent my 18th birthday together in Venice when we were Interrailling with two other school friends after finishing our A levels.

We had so little money with us that the others clubbed together to buy me an ice cream worth the equivalent of 50 pence for my birthday.

“So it seems appropriate that in the city in which he became a man, he now becomes a married man.”

My Mum needed a little reassurance that I only became a man in Venice because I turned 18, rather than for any other reason.

Although given I’ve taken this long to get married, I don’t think she need have worried.

Simon said that we were both 18 so long ago that perhaps he needed to provide a bit of historical context.

He said it was 1988, the year that the film Twins, starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger came out.

“Now if only I could think of a story involving David and Arnold Schwarzenegger…”

I can’t understand it.

Some people seem to enjoy taking the mickey out of my greatest achievement.

Well, my greatest achievement until now.

VENICE was the first trip we took together just a month after meeting – a lovely long weekend in a city which is a living museum.

It was all slightly surreal at the time – and not just because it felt even then that I had met a very special person after many years of searching, although I was probably looking in the wrong places.

The annual Carnival was on at the time where visitors and locals dress up in masks and costumes and tour the city.

When I saw former Town Centre Securities director Richard Lewis this week at a campaign board meeting for Martin House children’s hospice, he reminded me that we had bumped into him and his wife on the plane to Venice six years ago.

He was there after bidding for a trip to the Venice Opera in an auction at the Firecracker Ball.

I can reassure you that Richard didn’t opt for a harlequin costume, he was his usual natty self, a case study providing the perfect definition of smart casual.


WE returned from Venice on Sunday and on Monday evening I was at my monthly Film Club gathering at the Dakota Hotel in Leeds.

Well, you’ve always got to have something to look forward to.

It was a lovely evening with five good friends, the aforementioned Rodney Dalton, Nathan Lane, Stuart Clarke, Martin Allison and Terry Gilligan.

The hotel staff had word I had recently married and so brought us all a glass of fizz in celebration and then a plate of fruit and chocolates with ‘Congratulations’ written on it in chocolate fondant.

But the real icing on the cake was an incredibly thoughtful gift that the Film Club boys had clubbed together to commission – a cartoon by award winning artist Graeme Bandeira.

Combining the Venice location with a Godfather theme, Graeme produced an amazing image.

Harriet perhaps comes out of it with a more flattering appearance.

But I am channelling my inner Al Pacino.

And Middlesbrough supporter Graeme even included a Derby Ram on the prow of the gondola, which even Sunderland fan Martin and Leeds fans Terry, Nathan, Rodney and Stuart approved of.

Have a great weekend.

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