David Parkin rocks at the Leeds Arena and has a close encounter with Miss World

THE first direct Leeds Arena is a great venue. I visited for the first time last Friday to see the Kaiser Chiefs.

I’m sure I was one of those who said there would be traffic chaos when it was first announced that it would be built on a site at Clay Pit Lane just off the city’s inner ring road.

Despite several high profile events, there has yet to be the predicted traffic foul-ups and the site of 10,000-plus people leaving the venue and good naturedly heading down into the city centre was a heartening site in a city that has needed such a venue for years.

What struck me is that I bet Leeds City Council doesn’t have a box, or even corporate seats at the arena.

Which is a pity. I really think it would be a great showcase for the city if senior councillors and their executives could entertain high profile potential investors and entrepreneurs at the venue.

Unfortunately the fear of negative publicity is likely to prevent that.

I gather that council leader Keith Wakefield, chief executive Tom Riordan and director of development Martin Farrington (the man who delivered the arena) paid for their tickets to the first concert at the arena by Bruce Springsteen.

At least it meant that when the leader was asked by a small-minded local TV crew how much he paid for his ticket, he could reply: “£70”.

I’m not a regular concert goer. In fact, I think the last one I went to was the Kaiser Chief in Sheffield a few years ago. I was a guest of Welcome to Yorkshire boss Gary Verity (AKA Le Grand Depart Fromage).

Not knowing how I should behave when invited in the corporate seats, I thought I would take a lead from my host.

Sitting quitely in my seat, Big V suddenly leapt up beside me to punch the air during the song I Predict a Riot.

Up I shot, punching the air, jumping around, trying to to look trendy, when I glanced down and Gary was sitting back in his seat sending an email on his BlackBerry.

My host at the arena was Leeds Building Society chief executive Peter Hill. Soberly suited custodian of a successful mutual by day, Peter is a bit of a rocker outside work, complete with striking Jeffery-West brogue boots.

Whether he resorts to head-banging, I’m not sure, but we were all on our feet when Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson departed the stage mid song and two minutes later appeared up on the balcony, belting out the rest of the number.

I decided not to do any punching the air this time, and I also kept my BlackBerry in my pocket.

:::

I RETURN from a few days away to hundreds of emails, most of which barely need a cursory glance before the delete button is hit.

But in the midst of the poorly written press releases and deluded self promotion by self proclaimed business gurus, is one that catches my eye.

The subject is: Miss World.

At last! The organisers of the international beauty contest have realised what they are missing on the judging panel – a witty dandy who will give them 110% during the event, particularly during the swimwear round.

Or perhaps the current Miss World has become a fan of this column and wants to meet the enigmatic author?

Neither.

It was a press announcement which said: “The Miss World competition is currently underway in Indonesia and the beautifully, humble girls, of which there is 130, are set to rock some delightful denim instead of their glamorous frocks for some fun snaps in support of the brilliant charity, Jeans for Genes.”

Apparently there are pictures and video available but I haven’t seen any yet.

Anyway, it reminded me of the only time I came face to face with a Miss World. It was at the annual Christmas Variety Club Business Lunch in Leeds and I was positioned on the top table in between one of the guest speakers, Clarissa Dickson Wright, one half of the Two Fat Ladies TV cookery show, and surprise guest, the reigning Miss World.

Miss World – I can’t remember her name but I think she was from Turkey – didn’t speak a great deal of English and seemed to find me as interesting as most women I talk to.

So I turned to my left and struck up a fascinating conversation with Clarissa, who despite her ruddy complexion and comely bearing, informed me that she was teetotal.

This, apparently, was because her family had a history of alcoholism, which was first detected when one of her 17th century ancestors tried to put a baby in the oven of his manor house instead of a shoulder of pork.

By the time I’d finished chuckling at her anecdotes, I hadn’t noticed that Miss World had done a runner and her seat had been taken by the Chief Barker of the Variety Club who didn’t take kindly to me blowing in his ear and inviting him to a secluded table at Sous le Nez.

Have a lovely weekend.