34 Photos of Richard Branson That Will Make You Go Hmm

We aren't surprised Richard Branson introduced <a href="http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/fashion/female-virgin-trains-uniforms-... see-through tops</a> for the female staff at Virgin Trains. We thought a little photo-essay might

 

Richard Branson likes to pose.

 

At first, we thought the best way to demonstrate that is with pictures of the man himself. After all, there's no shortage:

 

1969: File picture of British businessman Richard Branson. AFP/Getty Images

22 June 1984: British entrepreneur Richard Branson inaugurates his new airline Virgin Atlantic Airways. Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images

29 September 2009: Richard Branson poses at the opening of the Virgin Mobile Metro Theatre. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

8 April 2013: Sir Richard Branson arrives at Edinburgh Airport and lifts his Harris Tweed Kilt. Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

 

Then we thought that a better way might be to show the Branson's prediliction for getting close to beautiful women:

 

8 December 2004: Businessman Richard Branson gestures as he arrives to launch his new Virgin Atlantic airline. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

24 February 2009: Sir Richard Branson poses in the pool. Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

26 October 2009: Sir Richard Branson and actress Marisa Tomei attend 'Rock The Kasbah' hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Eve Branson. Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for Virgin Unite

26 October 2009: Sir Richard Branson, Tiffany Persons and actress Marisa Tomei attend 'Rock The Kasbah' hosted by Sir Richard Branson and Eve Branson. Michael Caulfield/Getty Images for Virgin Unite

17 April 2011: Sir Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Branson, dressed as a cheerleaders, take part in a record-breaking cheer at Canary Wharf. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

11 February 2012: TV Personality Kim Kardashian, Honoree Sir Richard Branson and Singer Britney Spears attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

11 February 2012: Sir Richard Branson and singer Natalie Imbruglia attend Clive Davis and the Recording Academy's 2012 Pre-GRAMMY Gala. Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy

13 March 2012: Sir Richard Branson launches the day of activity at Liverpool Lime Street Station. Tony Woolliscroft/Getty Images

4 April 2012: Sir Richard Branson (L) and actress Amber Rose attend the Launch of Virgin America's First Flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

4 April 2012: Sir Richard Branson attends the Launch of Virgin America's First Flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. Michael Buckner/Getty Images

22 April 2013: Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson poses for a photo after being presented a sequined captain's jacket by Las Vegas showgirls. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

 

Sometimes, perhaps too close to beautiful women:

 

4 November 2002: Virgin Mobile's Richard Branson and some beautiful Sydney models. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

19 March 2010: Sir Richard Branson interacts with guests during the 'Branson By The Pool' function. Paul Kane/Getty Images

 

Sometimes dangerously close:

 

15 October 2003: Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, attends the launch of his latest U.S. company 'Virgin Pulse'. Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Once, the woman was wooden:

 

26 October 1984: English businessman Richard Branson at the Princess Victoria pub, London. Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

 

Also I'm not sure those windows are supposed to open:

 

22 April 2013: Sir Richard Branson - and a Las Vegas showgirl friend - emerge from the flight deck window of Virgin America's just landed inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

 

But then we discovered the motherlode.

 

It turns out, if you're a woman who stands near Richard Branson, he will pick you up.

 

14 June 2004: Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson celebrates on French soil after a record-breaking crossing of the English Channel. Carl De Souza/Getty Images

9 December 2004: Businessman Sir Richard Branson plays in the surf on Bondi Beach with a model. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

9 December 2004: Model Bessie Bardot with Businessman Sir Richard Branson attend a private party. Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

31 March 2005: British business tycoon Sir Richard Branson (C) of Virgin Atlantic Airways lifts Indian model Jeniffer Mayani after the airline's inaugural flight touched down at the International Airport in Bombay. SEBASTIAN D'SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

4 December 2005: Richard Branson, chairman and founder of the Virgin Group of companies, holds Wang Jingqian, who won a pair of upper class round trip tickets from Shanghai to London. China Photos/Getty Images

28 March 2006: Sir Richard Branson poses with a belly dancer at the Bab-el-Shams hotel resort. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

29 March 2006: British Entrepreneur and businessman Sir Richard Branson poses with Miss England Hammasa Kohistani during a photocall on a stretch of sand on the man-made island known as 'United Kingdom' in the new development, The World, in Dubai. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

23 February 2009: A woman gestures after being lifted by Sir Richard Branson during the official launch of the new Virgin Active. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

22 June 2009: Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson poses with model Kate Moss on a wing of a jumbo jet at Heathrow Airport. Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

15 June 2010: Founder and President of Virgin Group Sir Richard Branson holds burlesque artist Dita Von Teese as they appear on the wing of a Virgin Atlantic Airways 747-400 aircraft at McCarran International Airport. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

12 September 2010: John Borghetti CEO, Delta Goodrem and Sir Richard Branson celebrate Virgin Blue's 10th Anniversary in Australia. Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

3 July 2012: Zoe Hardman, Sir Richard Branson, Lydia Bright and Michelle Heaton attend a photocall to reveal Richard Branson's celebrity team taking part in this year's Virgin Active London Triathlon. Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

22 April 2013: Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson lifts a Virgin America teammate on the red carpet. Bob Riha, Jr./Virgin America via Getty Images

 

Eventually, though, some women got their own back:

 

17 April 2011: Sir Richard Branson and his daughter Holly Branson (2nd L), dressed as a cheerleaders, take part in a record-breaking cheer at Canary Wharf. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

 

And one just wasn't taking it any more:

 

26 September 2002: Chairman of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, poses with model Maddy Ford at the launch of Virgin.net Broadband service. John Li/Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The decline of the north's sporting powerhouse

Yorkshire historically acted as a counterweight to the dominance of southern elites, in sport as in politics and culture. Now, things are different.

On a drive between Sheffield and Barnsley, I spotted a striking painting of the Kes poster. Billy Casper’s two-fingered salute covered the wall of a once-popular pub that is now boarded up.

It is almost 50 years since the late Barry Hines wrote A Kestrel for a Knave, the novel that inspired Ken Loach’s 1969 film, and it seems that the defiant, us-against-the-world, stick-it-to-the-man Yorkshireness he commemorated still resonates here. Almost two-thirds of the people of south Yorkshire voted to leave the EU, flicking two fingers up at what they saw as a London-based establishment, detached from life beyond the capital.

But whatever happened to Billy the unlikely lad, and the myriad other northern characters who were once the stars of stage and screen? Like the pitheads that dominated Casper’s tightly knit neighbourhood, they have disappeared from the landscape. The rot set in during the 1980s, when industries were destroyed and communities collapsed, a point eloquently made in Melvyn Bragg’s excellent radio series The Matter of the North.

Yorkshire historically acted as a counterweight to the dominance of southern elites, in sport as in politics and culture. Yet today, we rarely get to hear the voices of Barnsley, Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham. And the Yorkshire sporting powerhouse is no more – at least, not as we once knew it.

This should be a matter of national concern. The White Rose county is, after all, the home of the world’s oldest registered football club – Sheffield FC, formed in 1857 – and the first English team to win three successive League titles, Huddersfield Town, in the mid-1920s. Hull City are now Yorkshire’s lone representative in the Premier League.

Howard Wilkinson, the manager of Leeds United when they were crowned champions in 1992, the season before the Premier League was founded, lamented the passing of a less money-obsessed era. “My dad worked at Orgreave,” he said, “the scene of Mrs Thatcher’s greatest hour, bless her. You paid for putting an axe through what is a very strong culture of community and joint responsibility.”

The best-known scene in Loach’s film shows a football match in which Mr Sugden, the PE teacher, played by Brian Glover, comically assumes the role of Bobby Charlton. It was played out on the muddy school fields of Barnsley’s run-down Athersley estate. On a visit to his alma mater a few years ago, David Bradley, who played the scrawny 15-year-old Billy, showed me the goalposts that he had swung from as a reluctant goalkeeper. “You can still see the dint in the crossbar,” he said. When I spoke to him recently, Bradley enthused about his lifelong support for Barnsley FC. “But I’ve not been to the ground over the last season and a half,” he said. “I can’t afford it.”

Bradley is not alone. Many long-standing fans have been priced out. Barnsley is only a Championship side, but for their home encounter with Newcastle last October, their fans had to pay £30 for a ticket.

The English game is rooted in the northern, working-class communities that have borne the brunt of austerity over the past six years. The top leagues – like the EU – are perceived to be out of touch and skewed in favour of the moneyed elites.

Bradley, an ardent Remainer, despaired after the Brexit vote. “They did not know what they were doing. But I can understand why. There’s still a lot of neglect, a lot of deprivation in parts of Barnsley. They feel left behind because they have been left behind.”

It is true that there has been a feel-good factor in Yorkshire following the Rio Olympics; if the county were a country, it would have finished 17th in the international medals table. Yet while millions have been invested in “podium-level athletes”, in the team games that are most relevant to the lives of most Yorkshire folk – football, cricket and rugby league – there is a clear division between sport’s elites and its grass roots. While lucrative TV deals have enriched ruling bodies and top clubs, there has been a large decrease in the number of adults playing any sport in the four years since London staged the Games.

According to figures from Sport England, there are now 67,000 fewer people in Yorkshire involved in sport than there were in 2012. In Doncaster, to take a typical post-industrial White Rose town, there has been a 13 per cent drop in participation – compared with a 0.4 per cent decline nationally.

Attendances at rugby league, the region’s “national sport”, are falling. But cricket, in theory, is thriving, with Yorkshire winning the County Championship in 2014 and 2015. Yet Joe Root, the batsman and poster boy for this renaissance, plays far more games for his country than for his county and was rested from Yorkshire’s 2016 title decider against Middlesex.

“Root’s almost not a Yorkshire player nowadays,” said Stuart Rayner, whose book The War of the White Roses chronicles the club’s fortunes between 1968 and 1986. As a fan back then, I frequently watched Geoffrey Boycott and other local stars at Headingley. My favourite was the England bowler Chris Old, a gritty, defiant, unsung anti-hero in the Billy Casper mould.

When Old made his debut, 13 of the 17-strong Yorkshire squad were registered as working-class professionals. Half a century later, three of the five Yorkshiremen selec­ted for the last Ashes series – Root, Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance – were privately educated. “The game of cricket now is played in public schools,” Old told me. “Top players are getting huge amounts of money, but the grass-roots game doesn’t seem to have benefited in any way.”

“In ten years’ time you won’t get a Joe Root,” Rayner said. “If you haven’t seen these top Yorkshire cricketers playing in your backyard and you haven’t got Sky, it will be difficult to get the whole cricket bug. So where is the next generation of Roots going to come from?” Or the next generation of Jessica Ennis-Hills? Three years ago, the Sheffield stadium where she trained and first discovered athletics was closed after cuts to local services.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era