David Parkin on the Tour de Yorkshire, Star Wars, Burberry mac attack and being showered with attention

DID you experience this year’s Tour de Yorkshire?

Whether you were on the route or just took it all in from the TV, this year’s three-day cycle race was a tour de force.

After last year’s downpours and the technical problems that led to the grounding of the aircraft due to carry out the aerial filming of the race, I think the Tour de Yorkshire was due a large slice of good fortune this year.

The pleasant, dry weather encouraged huge crowds over the three days – estimated at around 2.2 million people – and proved that Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Sir Gary Verity hadn’t used up all his good luck charms.

If you remember the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart – those that watched it never will – when days of rain before the race pointed to damp and dismal conditions for the early July extravaganza.

But when the day of the race dawned, bright sunshine emerged and stayed shining for both days, ensuring Yorkshire was showcased in all its glory.

Holding the Tour de Yorkshire on the last weekend in April – and one which ended with a bank holiday – was always a risk, but the cycle race calendar dictates the timing of events.

But conditions remained fine and I watched the finish of the men’s race in Harrogate on Saturday.

Cycling enthusiasts, families, dog walkers and tourists mingled on the Stray creating a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.

Invited into the VIP hospitality area on the finish line (don’t worry I took my sunglasses), I bumped into a few familiar faces.

The Mayor of Harrogate Nick Brown was his usual ebullient self. Only three weeks away from the end of his year in office, Nick has thoroughly enjoyed the honour, and, importantly, raised a fortune for charity, including organising a record-breaking mayor’s ball.

Adam Beaumont was in the stand, the chief executive of Leeds-based data business aql was fresh from leading a Northern Powerhouse trade mission to Silicon Valley.

Flying Virgin Airlines from Manchester, Adam was photographed, Richard Branson-style, embracing two Virgin stewardesses in the departure area.

He refused to divulge whether he got their phone numbers.

I told him that an important part of business is about sharing your contacts.

He moved on to speak to Sir Gary Verity while I was beset by born again Christians.

Let’s be clear, these weren’t religious people, but they are part of a strange cult.

They were all people who had met the director of Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which runs the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme.

I’ve never met him, but he certainly does seem to make an impression on those that have.

They wander about, rather glassy eyed, chanting: “I’ve just met Christian…” staring into space with their mouth rather slack.

I must meet him, I’ve always fancied being a cult.

No dear,  I said cult.


May the Fourth be With You. If you said that or posted it on social media yesterday then you need to have a word with yourself.

“Star Wars Day” is an excuse for geeks everywhere to talk about their favourite film franchise and make a series of weak jokes.

If you don’t agree then I’ll have a fight with you, as soon as I get this Darth Vader codpiece off.


FASHION house Burberry yesterday unveiled plans to set up a new “centre of excellence” in Leeds involving 300 staff.

Yes, this is positive news. But don’t kid yourself that it is groundbreaking stuff.

In reality the iconic trench coat maker is moving 300 head office jobs from London to Leeds to save money.

And since when did anyone think that an office full of finance, HR, procurement, customer service and IT staff could be termed a “centre of excellence”?

Spin it whichever way you like, this is a cost-cutting measure, not expansion.

It is throwing a few crumbs from its table towards Leeds after backing away from plans to set up a state-of-the-art manufacturing base employing 1,000 staff in the city making coats.

After all the hoopla of that announcement a couple of years ago Burberry sales hit the skids.

Then there was the Brexit vote and it has clung to that as an excuse like a drowning man grasps a tree trunk floating past.

Burberry chief operating and finance officer Julie Brown told the Yorkshire Post: “We are taking some time to think through the plans. We are definitely committed to retaining manufacturing in Yorkshire. What we are doing is assessing the plans whether we build a new facility since that announcement Brexit has occurred and created a lot of uncertainty and since that time we have had a lot of changes within the business as well. We want to take some time to get this right. It will be a very important investment for us.”

Translated from management speak that means: “We aren’t doing it. We won’t close our current factory in Castleford. Our own business is in a state and our shareholders won’t let us invest any more until we sort it out. We’ll use Brexit as a convenient way of masking this rather embarrassing experience.”

When Burberry originally announced plans for the move to Leeds, I remember all the trendy creative types working in Holbeck, where the planned new factory would have been based, getting very excited that they would have a Burberry factory shop on their doorstep.

The best chance you’ve got of seeing a trench coat in Holbeck in the next few years is a tramp in a dirty mac.


I FELT very loved the other day after a visit to the new Leeds office of law firm Addleshaw Goddard.

While Christian Collinson, the firm’s head of communications, who I have known for years and who I went to see, was very welcoming, it wasn’t a patch on the reception staff.

Apparently the “front of house” staff are all managed by someone who has worked in the hotel industry and it shows.

One of the three-strong team on reception greeted me cheerily by name, another made me a coffee and the third took my coat.

After I went to sit down one of the team came over to “keep me in the loop” and informed me Christian was on his way.

I’m not used to such attention.

I don’t know why, but it reminded me of Burt Reynolds in that scene from Mel Brooks’ Silent Movie.

Brooks, who plays a desperate film director in the film, wants to revive the fortunes of a Hollywood studio and decides making the first silent film for 40-odd years is the answer.

Struggling to secure a big star for the picture, Mel and his sidekicks Dom DeLuise and Marty Feldman decide to confront Burt in his bathroom.

He is happily taking a shower when he suddenly realises that there are more hands than his own soaping him down.

Have a great weekend.


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