Row Z edition 42; dateline 30 April 2010

CCPR on the level?
At Row Z we love the CCPR. Any organisation prepared to go into bat for caravanning and royalty in the 21st century has to be admired for its stickability if not its politics. And there is no doubt that in recent years under its new management team it has become less anachronistic, more proactive and far more relevant. Sideliner, however, wonders whether the choice of image to promote their forthcoming (5 May) national conference called Fair Play in Sport – Fact or Fantasy was as sure-footed as the usual decisions that chair Brigid Simmons and chief executive Tim Lamb make. We checked with the internet and the handshake depicted looks suspiciously like the “grip of an entered apprentice” as used by the world’s Freemasons, which, although hardly a beacon of diversity, is at least likely to appeal to new President His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex (their caps).
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Fire up the Mondeo, bollock-brain
The woman who comes in two mornings a week to do the books had to phone in her advice – “Don’t pay that much”, “You don’t need to buy that” and “Do your expenses” –  over the unseasonably early Easter break as she took herself off to North Wales for a caravan-related, recreationally-based sojourn by the sea and was unable to attend Row Z Towers in person. Unfortunately for all concerned, it seems that the recuperative powers of Black Rock Sands – where they filmed the original Prisoner being chased by a big white ball – were diminished by what open space experts would doubtless call “non-complementary mixed recreational use” when certain car drivers decided to spoil everyone else’s enjoyment of the tranquil strip of sand squeezed between Snowdonia’s mountains and Cardigan Bay. The beach is admittedly the size of a small aerodrome when the tide is out but it only takes one chav in a Mondeo to create enough noise, annoyance and threat of collision to spoil a sensitive soul’s day and indeed the accounts department was heard to mutter: “They’re just a bunch of down-market, wannabe Gene Hunts.” To which Sidey says: “Thank the Lord for rhyming slang.”

Mark, his words
When your role in life is to win bunch sprints on the stages of Grand Tours, a pastime which involves fighting for space in a milling crowd of predatory opponents all travelling at 40 mph on a base no wider than a penny piece before backing your own ability to go eyeballs-out for the tiniest of winning margins, it can affect your perspective. The best in the world at doing this, at least in his world, is the man the editor of The Leisure Review refers to as the “Mardi Manxman”©, Mark Cavendish. “Cav”, as we feel entitled to call him because we see a lot of him on the telly, has spent some time of late expanding on his world view and since, despite being very attentive to the needs of his team’s PR company, Row Z has not been offered the chance to interview the man himself, we will offer you some of his best lines garnered by colleagues from more favoured organs. Ponder the mind that produced these thoughts: he calls his relegation for riding Thor Husholvd into the barriers on a Tour de France stage last year “one of the worst sports decisions in history – it's up there with Maradona's handball”; of the accusation that he is a trouble-maker he reckons, “I don't ever start shit, I just retaliate a lot”; on the romance of cycle riding for a living he says, “Cycling’s a job where fundamentally we have sponsors who pay for the team. Our job is to display those sponsors as prominently as possible, we're moving billboards”; and on his daily preparation he claims, “One guy said I had OCD, but I'm just meticulous.” With the Tour de France only weeks away, Cav struggling for form – at least on his bike – and GB’s Team Sky one of the 22 contesting Le Grand Boucle, the entire Row Z team are salivating at the prospect of receiving more such pearls of wisdom and perhaps an invitation to a départ or two.

Dorothy’s red snooze
With the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber extended advertisement arthritically high-kicking its way past the halfway stage, we find ourselves wondering two things. First, where do the reject Dorothy’s go when the moon swings them out of the studio? Well-known cultural commentator Fatboy Slim apparently believes they are dumped in the car park in a crumpled heap till their parents collect them but Sideliner is sure there is something more sinister going on, perhaps involving the new Dr Who’s new assistant and a lottery machine, probably Lancelot. But then, since giving up the lacrosse coaching, Sideliner is “in” with a bottle of Co-op Zinfandel and the terrestrial channels on far too many Saturday nights. The second question? Is the repeated exposure to gingham, show tunes and Charlotte Church turning the nation’s men into friends of Dorothy? As Graham Norton might arch: “We hope so!”

Anyone but Greg
Is Sideliner being unduly cynical in suggesting that when Leon Smith, the new Davis Cup captain and head of tennis at the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), says, “I know the players, and I know that together we can get Britain back to winning ways in the Davis Cup” what he means is that if he can manipulate a defeat to Turkey his boys will be up against the absolute dregs of world tennis and even half a dozen of the most pampered pat-a-caking poodles from the Roehampton School of Effete Privilege should be able to beat the likes of Andorra, San Marino and Montenegro? Or did he just mean that he’s mates with Judy Murray and she’ll make sure her boys get Team GB out of the poo John Lloyd and his even more arrogant brother got us into? At least he’s not Greg Rusedski.

How to Gerry-build a sports system
And while we’re having a pop at the LTA, it is time to pick the bones out of Gerry Sutcliffe’s pre-election campaign confirmation of his government’s £26 million give-away to middle England’s favourite sport. “There is great potential for tennis to grow,” he is reputed to have said, adding that the three years spent throwing good money after bad would be a worthwhile investment. Should you be in any doubt about Mr Sutcliffe’s judgement, bear in mind his closing argument: “But I have confidence in Sport England holding the LTA to account on this.”

A marriage made in Bloomsbury
It gives Sidey great pleasure to offer two of the industry’s big players hearty congratulations on their April nuptials. It seems David Teasdale, currently chair of both Business in Sport and Leisure (BISL) and the Institute of Groundmanship (IOG) and famously the first chief executive at ISPAL, has married his sweetheart, Jennie Price, the chief executive of Sport England. We wish them well for the future.

You say typo and I say typo
We know its only a typographical error that anyone could make and has probably been corrected already but the entire Row Z office would just like to wish it were true. According to the YST website on 29 April around 7pm, “Youth Sport Trust School Sport Ambassador Denise Lewis recently shared her experiences of what it takes to be the very best in sport during a visit to Kind Alfred’s Sports College in Oxfordshire.” He sounds like the sort of chap we should be naming our schools after.

Drawing a veil
This month we shall be spoiling our ballot papers rather than voting for:
the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup (which only has 12 teams in it including Afghanistan and Ireland); UK Sport telling everyone how they have to go into purdah because there’s an election on, as if anyone reads their news pages anyway; the love-in surrounding Portsmouth Football Club and its soi-disant “hard-done-by supporters” who enjoyed the success their sugar daddies bought and should in all conscience now just man up and shut up; the growing use of the expression “man up”; the news that the nation has its “first constituted regional carnival network” and that it is “hosting a conference”; the Commonwealth Games hand over from India to North Britain, which is to include a “mass choreographed dance routine with a cast of approximately 350 volunteers from all across Scotland”; and the passing of the deadline for nominations for the national training awards this time last week.


At the Arts End

Only in Oz
If you ran a beachside town would you be spending more than a million dollars to recreate Stonehenge on a hill above your beach? In Esperance, Western Australia that is exactly what is on the cards, although the rationale for the project is a trifle obscure. Various partners have varying motivations, including the Rotary who feel it is “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be involved in a project that could still be standing in thousands of years”, adding the kicker, “The stone is already here”. The Chamber of Commerce reckons the full-size replica will keep “visitors and tour groups in Esperance longer and boost revenue for the sea-side town”. And the tourism association thinks “it could be a really stunning attraction”. At the arts end we believe it’s a fantastic idea and want an invitation to the opening, especially as the more than 100 massive blocks are due to be made from pink granite. Nice.

Take two Last Nights into the shower?
Have you ever seen Last Night of the Proms on the television? What does it look like to you? Hundreds of geeks vastly amused at themselves because they can make farty noises and “funny” faces in time to the music, and know all the words to all the verses of Rule Britannia? A sort of Young Tories’ outing mixed with a church social and the chaps from the chess club’s end-of-term jamboree? Something nearly as nauseating as David “Call me Dave” Cameron and his Bullingdon Club buddies practising swear words and wearing baseball caps? (Baseball hat? Wong Conservative wannabe prime minister but you get the drift) And now it transpires they are having not one but two of them. Apparently there is some spat about “rabid jingoism” but the flag-waving debate is a distraction. It’s the accents that are offensive and the sense of privilege. The moneyed, overweening, self-loving smugness of the entire blessed exercise that makes the idea of doubling the dose so unpalatable. As David “Call me next week I won’t be busy” Cameron might say: “Twats.”

Election fever in rhyming couplets
The election for the Oxford poetry professorship is making headlines this year for reasons beyond the tawdry with beat poet, musician and publisher of the New Departures literary magazine, Michael Horovitz, becoming the latest, genuinely interesting, nominee. Horovitz is supported by Tony Benn and thinks it would be a fluke if he won. If he does he says he plans to “bring the people of the town and gown together at events and exhibitions and manifestations”, adding, “I want to show the arts are deadly serious but also tremendous fun.” He joins Geoffrey Hill, Paula Claire and Seán Haldane on the nomination list, the last of whom is quoted as wanting to “talk about the neuropsychology of poetry, poetry and verse, poetry and ‘more-than-coincidence’, poetry in different languages, and what Hardy called its ‘sustaining power’.” Best of luck with that Seánene.

In praise of Nancy
Television critic is the job the career officer never told you about and would appear to rank with bed-testing and wine-tasting in the list of things we would all like to get paid to do. Curious then that it should produce some of the best writing available in daily or weekly newspapers; after all, it’s just television, the medium of the lowest common denominator. Sideliner recalls being inconsolable when Clive James gave up his Sunday supplement television column to go in front of the cameras and will doubtless be equally distraught when Nancy Banks-Smith lays aside her keyboard. The good folk at the Guardian don’t trouble the dear old soul every day but when she does get a run-out it is worth making sure the newsagent saves you a copy. In her 19 April review of Tony “the human mongoose” Robinson’s programme, in which the blitz was simulated and survivors interviewed to no good purpose, she gently suggested that the presenter should not have been prevented from walking in front of a soon-to-collapse building, so we didn’t have to.

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