Row Z edition 50; dateline 3 January 2010

Of spiders and flies
The life of the lairy graphic designer has been fraught of late as Sidey’s usual equanimity [Who writes this? Ed] has been punctured repeatedly by the news of the ongoing – on and on and on going – saga of the take over of the institute formerly known as ILAM by the good plumbing people of Loughborough. Usually happy to rely on gossip and inference, Sideliner was surprised but delighted to receive notification of, but no press pass to, the ISRM EGM on 7 January. Sidey particularly liked the bit about this being a definitive moment for the profession, a moment completely different to that moment in 2005 when the ISRM membership voted 93% in favour of exactly what is being proposed now. Quite what the former ILAM members at ISPAL will think of being subsumed by their backwashing brethren goes unrecorded but Sideliner – a once proud member of the ARM – was less than pleased to read that the ISRM trustees “have produced an interim three year business plan from 2011, based largely on the current footprint of ISRM's revised business model” for the period following the “amalgamation”.

Taffy gobshite award shock
News that Robbie Savage has been awarded a Plain English award for his work on Radio 5 Live’s 606 football phone will have confounded some commentators and delighted others. Chrissie Maher, the founder of the Plain English Campaign, said of the bleached blond Welshman, “I know that some of our sports commentators are probably best out in the game rather than in the studio but Robbie has won the hearts of people on both counts. He understands what he's talking about and he doesn't make a big deal about it. He goes on air just like when he is out on the field – straight to the point and no messing.” Never one to be understated, Robbie Savage said, “I'm completely overwhelmed. To think that a boy from Wrexham can win this award so early into my broadcasting career – it genuinely is a great honour. I love doing my radio work and know that I've still got an awful lot to learn. It's a good job it's for plain English. If it was for plain Welsh, I would have been struggling.” Contrast Savage’s fortunes with that of  the campaign’s Foot in Mouth award winner, Jamie Redknapp, whose misuse of the word literally and a catalogue of gaffes means he beat Alex Ferguson to this year’s award. Redknapp has been responsible for utterances including: “These balls now – they literally explode off your feet”; “Peter Schmeichel will be like a father figure to Kasper Schmeichel” and “Steven Gerrard makes runs into the box better than anyone. So does Frank Lampard.”

List this
The editor of The Leisure Review suggested to Sideliner that the team at Row Z Towers might like to offer their new year resolutions for 2011 as a “whimsically amusing” start to another 12 months of the only diary column in an online magazine for sport, leisure and culture professionals. Sidey declined but did ask the staff to make a prediction or two appertaining to our industry and the people in it. Here they are:

  1. The Leisure Review symposium will prove to be the hot ticket for the first half of the year as people realise that rather than sitting around waiting for other people to shape the post-CSR culture sector it’s up to all of us who understand what a ‘thought leader’ is to get on and lead some thoughts, and some actions.
  2. Sue Campbell will come out fighting and use her unbounded energy, proven political nous and the support of people in the wider sector to confound sporting Luddite Michael Gove.
  3. The carnage being wreaked in the arts sector will lead to a radicalisation of theatre with performance artists of all genres linking with the burgeoning protest movement to produce truly innovative, grassroots theatre untrammelled by the strictures of grant-based funding.
  4. Parks will grow.
  5. The consultancy sector will endure a six-month price war as losers in the spending cuts lottery working from their back bedroom undercut established firms to win contracts which they then fail to deliver as promised. Once the wheat and the chaff have been separated, however, commissioners will revert to using people who do what they say they will do on time and on budget.
  6. TLR Communications Ltd’s newly established ‘Pay as you Go PR’ brand will surprise and delight customers who come to realise they can promote their own brand, event or programme without having to pay through the nose for something they didn’t want in the first place.
  7. The work experience lad who writes these lists will get reprimanded for being over-zealous in promoting in-house products.
  8. And consequently stop this particular list at number 8.

Coming clean on the apostate apostrophe
It’s the new year so, given that news of the official demise of ISPAL to emerge phoenix-like into whatever a chartered institute is called without the gift of privy council confirmation of chartered status, it might be time to say that the organisation with all the (we’ll be generous) typos in the banner advert on its own website is ISPAL. Still time to sort it out before you take the site down but if you want some help with spotting the mistakes let us know. Happy to help.

At the Arts End

E. By. Gum. Sing it now
Sideliner is not known for showing admiration for boy bands, let alone superannuated boy bands that have formed, split and reformed in repetitive welters of noisy and sometimes noisome publicity. Take That (for it is they) have, however, managed to make the old curmudgeon express something approaching admiration. It seems that when the boys (boys!) were surfing the wave of popular approval engendered by the estimable Bruce Forsyth and his supporting cast in the ballroom-related soap opera that is Strictly Come Dancing, Sidey was unable or unwilling to leave the room and was moved to comment on the fact that they all sing – or possibly mime – in northern accents. Mr Williams is obviously putting it on as he is from Stoke (one contributory factor to recent obesity statistics which hails the West Midlands as the fattest region of Europe?) but Mr Barlow, Mr Owen and the other two (what are they called?) are all from places where ‘four’ rhymes with ‘doer’. Nearly.

Three cheers and a conflagration
And speaking of northern cultural reference points, congratulations must go to the makers of Coronation Street for making 50 years of moolah out of one cobbled back street and its mundane inhabitants. In true soap style, the anniversary was celebrated with a Mancunian version of Armageddon as a tram – a proper working-class tram, mark you – left the viaduct and careered into a number of local landmarks from above. Of all the atten:dant programming Sideliner was drawn to a quiz presented by former drag artist (artiste?) and fellow professional northerner Paul O’Grady with nine cast members, two well-known celebrity fans and a failed magician, the funniest part of which was the unveiling of Harry Hill’s Christmas single about Ken Barlow, or is it Ken Roach? Ke-e-e-e-en. Very funny.


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