Row Z edition 62; dateline 26 January 2012

Turf wars stop play
The report that Sport England is unable to even sit and discuss merger with UK Sport because of their issues over ‘turf’ has struck chill in the heart of anyone hoping to deliver Olympic legacy, a reversal in the decrease in participation or indeed anything which looks like progress. With discussions in abeyance until after the Olympics, it looks like the hiatus (in which staff at agencies such as Sportscoach UK have spent more time on management reports designed to justify their continued existence while Sport  England’s own people have taken to dabbling in anything ‘sexy’ in an attempt to prolong theirs) will continue and the handcart in which Jennie Price’s sports system has found itself will continue on towards hell.

Bide a wee. Nah, dinnae.
The majority of Row Z readers will not understand the debate over Scottish independence as the majority of Row Z readers are English. Sidey has a firm grasp on the issues, having actually voted in the last devolution referendum, ticking whichever box offered the greatest distancing of the Scots from the rest of Britain. So here is an elucidation. The nation known by TLR’s editor as “the Jolly Jockos” (he can never have been north of Hadrian’s Wall if he thinks the Scots a “jolly” race) are currently being led by a man called Salmond who is of a nationalist persuasion. He wants to organise a referendum about Caledonia’s future and, as he wants to have his own way, he is proposing to have the vote in 2014 which is – and here is a vote for the power of sport – the year Glasgow hosts the Commonwealth Games. David “Call me Dave” Bullingdon, the prime minister of Great Britain, wants his own way too and, naturally, has decided that bullying the fish man is the way forward. Bullingdon is claiming that “business” wants the vote now, which is as good an argument for delay as you’ll hear in our view. Having finished the Christmas shortbread and with an eye on the Laophraig in the bottom draw of the filing cabinet, Sideliner takes the view espoused by Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie who says, “For sure Scotland needs independence – everyone does – from managers and superficiality and second-rate debate.” Can the people’s republic of Row Z Towers be far off? Power to the people, etc.

Pottery, the Robster and Darts
In case you were wondering, the headline to this piece is the answer to that soon-to-be hackneyed quiz question, “What three things is Stoke-on-Trent most famous for?” Setting aside whether Sir Stanley Matthews outranks little, fat Robbie Williams or whether churning out tea cups is a proper pastime for an entire conurbation, the fact remains that the Six Towns are being hailed, by the London Times no less, as a breeding ground of darters. In an article clipped, copied and distributed without cost, lest you think we’re propping up the Murdoch empire, one Gary Jacob points out the remarkable run of dart masters coming from Stoke and environs. You will have heard of Eric Bristow who hailed from Leek (12 miles up the Buxton road) and probably of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor from Burslem (one of the six). You may not have heard of Andys Lewis and Hamilton but apparently they are both from Stoke and contested the recent ‘world’ championships at Frimley Green which is down south somewhere. We parenthesise ‘world’ because there are at least two organisations claiming to organise darts although, as an aside, the top chucker from the other lot is a chap called Ted ‘The Count’ Hankey, who, lest you failed to guess, was born in Stoke. We consulted a coaching guru as to the possible reasons for all these fat chaps from the same dreary town being good at chucking pointy toys at the wall and Graham said, “Culture, history, accessibility, practice and role models could all play a part, although I note that no mention is made of formal coaching or participant capabilities.” Which is what we thought.

Colin, Colin, Colin
Little Lord Moynihan has few supporters in the Row Z offices and he has failed to start 2012 with anything that approaches a bang. Having, quite rightly, pushed the British Olympic Association’s stance against drugs cheats as far as possible with the IOC and beyond, he has now managed to undermine his own case by saying that, should the BOC lose the right to decide who represents Great Britain at the forthcoming jamboree and drugs cheat Dwayne Chambers is allowed to sully the British vest, he, Moynihan, will shake his, Chambers’, hand if he wins a medal. And pat him on the back. What we don’t understand is why the people picking the GB team can’t just pick somebody else whatever the legal ruling. He wouldn’t be the first performer – we won’t say sportsman – who failed to be picked because their face didn’t fit.

Colin, Colin, Colin 2
And talking about faces fitting, we have been alerted to what may or may not be a scandal in the world of what we are these days invited to call snowsport. According to our source, the national governing body for doing athletic things on snow has recently nominated six young people to receive financial support from an organisation called Sports Aid which channels commercial sponsorship towards “young British sportsmen and women” in order to help them “achieve their ambitions by supporting them during the defining early years of their careers.” No mention of helping young people with financial difficulties and no mention of doing the funding fairly. In short, if the national coaches from Snowsport England choose to nominate young people from privileged backgrounds and moneyed families, thus promulgating the impression that their sport is for “people like us”, then Sports Aid are under no obligation to say, “Steady on, chaps, if you think giving money to the likes of the son of Lord Moynihan, the chairman not only of the British Olympic Association but also of British Ski & Snowboarding, is a fair and equitable use of our sponsors’ money then perhaps you should think again as we think it stinks.” No obligation whatsoever.

Colin, Colin, Colin 3
And while we’re moaning about the former rowing cock/cox, we would just like to add our voice to the cacophony of complaint that has greeted the allocation of press passes for the Stratford Games. It seems that, not only was the application from The Leisure Review to have a team of staffers clogging up the press benches at Boris’ Summer Fete rejected, but similar cavalier treatment has been meted our to our colleagues from a number of local news media; local to East London that is, not local to Row Z Towers. It seems the Stratford Trumpeter and the East Ham Clarion will have to watch it on the telly and write deathless headlines like Bow Bowman Bows Out when the local archer loses to a Korean in the first round by following Twitter like the rest of us.

That is, like, so cool
What good is a nationally read diary column if you can’t thank your mates when they do something nice, just for you? None, we say, and that’s why we would like to abuse the privilege of writing such a column by saying “Ta” to our pals over at Leisure Opportunities for their recent invitation to attend “the coolest event for 2012”. They refer, of course, to the ACR Show at the big tin shed in Birmingham. ACR? Air conditioning and refrigeration, of course. Despite the fact that there will be a “Networking Area to catch up with old friends, make new ones, write notes and have a drink” we shan’t be attending, which means we will never find out what kind of chumps would pay someone money to invite us to an event about air con to publicise their exhibition. The phrase “taking money under false pretences” springs to mind.

At the Arts End

Hadley hagiography (possibly again)
At Row Z we bow to no one when it comes to expressing admiration for the blessed Hadley Freeman, a fashion writer non-pareil (as the French probably don’t say). Recently the grown-ups at the Guardian have had her penning all sorts of column inches away from her weekly advice page for faux fashionistas but in her own oeuvre she must be unbeatable. Note, if you will, her phrase used to describe the fashion known as ‘tribal’. La Freeman notes, and so should you, that this label “is truly the crudité platter of the fashion buffet: always offered, rarely tempting”. The colon makes it what it is: pure ruddy genius.

Farewell M’Lord
The woman who comes in two mornings a week to do the books has been aquiver at recent rumours that Andrew Lloyd-Webber is to renounce his droit de seigneurial right to advertise West End shows on the BBC for 13 Saturdays every Spring and move to ITV. Sadly, it seems the scuttlebutt is correct and carpers and complainants such as Kevin Spacey are to succeed in robbing anyone who refuses to endure 20 minutes of advertising per hour of the frog-faced peer. His latest search is for Jesus, as in Christ Superstar, and we wait with bated breath what the signally unoriginal folk at ITV –  they brought you Dancing on Ice, remember –  are going to call the new programme.

Make me a new job title, Daddy
Feedback from an ACE* and MLA* collaboration held last year provides one item of note, the invention of a new name for people who do creative stuff. In the past we have struggled by with job titles like artist or sculptor or poet or actor. Now we have ‘maker’. To put this in context we will quote at some length the case study from a project in Kent. The project was an installation “which brought together tools created by the maker Cathy Miles, alongside a special re-display of the Seaton Tool Chest and wire tools created during the community engagement workshops”. For those who don’t know, the Seaton Tool Chest is a complete 18th century collection of furniture-making tools once owned by a chap called Benjamin Seaton, Cathy Miles is the artist getting paid and the community engagement workshops were opportunities for other people to do what she does but for nothing. Under ‘legacy’ in the case study are the startling conclusions that “the project took twice the staff time they expected, just because of the administration” and that “there can be extra costs of working with inaccessible populations”. Goodness knows how much that cost to discover but surely just buying the arts development officer a coffee and asking her would have produced the same advice. 
*Sorry, can’t remember what these initials stand for and Wikipedia is on strike again


This section may have about as much support as Nick Clegg but, like him, its going to make the most of its day in the sun:

What have we learned from?

Twickenham’s new coaching broom: that rugby union is not the sole preserve of moneyed southerners; that Stuart Lancaster is an ambitious, not to say, capable man; that employing coaches in jobs with ‘coach’ in their title is a good idea; that the age of the celebrity rugby player has been postponed; and that Danny Care is a chump.

The Luis Suarez race row: that, just occasionally, the FA can behave like a governing body; that the age of the celebrity soccer player is set to continue; that the god that is Kenny Dalglish has feet of clay; that Liverpool FC must really want to be thought of as a systemically racist organisation; and that John Terry must be more than a little concerned about his upcoming appointment with the magistrates.

LOCOG’s ban on Twittering “games makers”: that hope sometimes triumphs over experience; that LOCOG don’t understand social media, or people; that the inherent need of all agencies to control, control, control is a sad indictment of the human condition; that quite a few of their recruits have already busted the ban and many, many more will spend “games time” on the Blackberry.

Search Engine Optimisation: that putting “Lady Gaga” in Row Z won’t get us many more hits but putting “CJ off Eggheads is a dick” might; that you can find people who will charge you for this information and having thereby increased your website’s throughput find advertisers who will pay to go on your “very successful” site; that such behaviour, though not exactly unethical, is a waste of a lot of people’s time which might be better spent on polishing their copy.





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