Row Z edition 68; dateline 31 August 2012

The Golden Puff: a dispiriting tale of tweeting folk
The floppy-haired intern whose unremunerated job it is to inhabit the online demi-monde on behalf of Sideliner and the other dinosaurs at Row Z Towers demonstrated the anarchic originality which is his trademark when he initiated an Olympic competition on behalf of Row Z and the wider scoffing public. The competition, which had no prizes other than the glory of the win, was entitled The Golden Puff and was a challenge to agencies, companies and corporations to see who could make the most tenuous of links between their own services and the Stratford Sports Day. After an early claim by Sport England to have been responsible for Jessica Ennis’s success as “she trains at the EIS Sheffield, which we fund”, many potential entrants simply withdrew, knowing they could never beat that level of desperation. Sadly, they were proved largely correct with the national agency for sports development tweeting self-congratulatory messages throughout the event, a prolific output that saw them win both bronze and silver. The above effort meant they “podiumed” on the third step but putting the soon-to-be-merged body also into second place was the outrageous claim that the gold medal won by Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte could be chalked up to Sport England on the grounds that they contributed to a pool in Plymouth, where Miss Meilutyte lives. However, sitting atop the pile is a late entry from the good people at Quest, which as you may have to be reminded is a tick-box scheme designed to top up the pension of otherwise retired leisure centre managers [Surely “highly valued quality assurance scheme”? Ed]. We don’t know who does the tweeting for Quest but if we had a hat we would doff it to the claim that anyone who has been “inspired by the Olympics” should take themselves off to the local leisure centre forthwith pausing only to check that the venue for the first step on the road to Rio is “Quest accredited”.

Veritas non invenitur
Despite what some critical souls may say, Row Z is not “a vehicle fuelled by rumour, innuendo and scuttlebutt with no other purpose than to dispense half-truths and inexactitudes”. To help refute that claim we want to move quickly to help scotch a vile rumour currently doing the rounds. It concerns the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), the Loughborough-based love child of the union of ISRM, ILAM and indeed NASD. The lamentable phrase “It could be over by Christmas” has apparently been uttered but at Row Z we know this cannot be true. Given the goodwill of the wider sport, leisure and culture community, given the number of high-profile practitioners who have put their shoulder to the CIMSPA wheel, given the speedy creation of strong regional committees, given the assured competence of the anointed chief executive, given the stellar paper credentials of the head-hunted chairman, given the vast sums of money which have been ploughed into the body to end all bodies in the sector, and given the fact that the Privy Council had its collective arm twisted up its aggregated back by a powerful political lobby to give the body chartered status, this story simply cannot be true.

That’s just Dandy
The demise of the Dandy, a comic first produced by DC Thomson of Dundee in 1937, is remarkable only in that it has taken so long. With toddlers being seen in London pubs using their own tablet computers to interact with Peppa Pig, what chance an attention-deficient primary school child sitting quietly devouring this week’s edition of a paper-based comic? And apart from anything else, compared to the Beano the Dandy was a one-dimensional and crude purveyor of infantile neo-humour which never reached the levels of anarchic wit required of a truly great children’s comic.

Arriverderci short-arse
So farewell then, Little Lord Moynihan, from your sinecure as leading man at the British Olympic Association. Sidey was very taken with the suggestion that you might be replaced with Clare Balding, an apparently genuine person with some feel for sport and the people who use it. But before you go can we expect a statement correcting those in the media who have been purveying the most obvious of errors? Time and again the ignorant among the commentariat have recounted the falsehood, and goodness knows where it came from, that you were an Olympic rower. At Row Z we know that is not true and that, although you did go to an Olympic Games, it was only as a cox. Your job, if we can call it that, was to sit very still, make a bit of noise and generally be little more than a passenger…

The 2012 Gong Show
For a great many people Danny “O’Danny” Boyle’s opening ceremony was spoiled if not completely ruined by the BBC’s commentary team. Sideliner took the precaution of watching the monumental procession of cliché, schmaltz and chutzpah  on the red button with only Twitter to explain what was going on and missed the worst of Messrs Nelson, Edwards and Irvine (is Trevor the only black person who works for the BBC?). However one aspect of the ceremony, and indeed the whole medal-fest which followed, that really did get under Sidey’s top plate was the trivialisation of remarkable achievements by a debate, if it can be called that, about which medallist might win a forthcoming personality contest and what “honour” each winning participant could expect to receive from the Queen come the New Year. You will remember Kelly Holmes bitterly arguing that Becky “Two Golds in Beijing” Adlington should not be made a dame despite the fact that she, Holmes, had been damed for exactly the same feat? Well it’s happening again but in reverse with people like Brian Moore of the Daily Telegraph suggesting that Chris Hoy should now be raised to the peerage; an honour which would allow a bloody bike rider to be involved in making the law of the land! Where is the honour in being awarded a medal for winning a medal? Is Greg Searle’s achievement in winning a bronze 20 years after he won gold – and in the days before gold equalled knighthood – of less value than that of the lad who won in the shooting, having only taken up the “sport” four years ago? Why does a judo fighter who wins four bouts to win silver not get ennobled when a boxer who won three shorter bouts does? And why don’t the horses get any medals at all, either from an IOC nobody or from one of Lizzie Windsor’s extended family? The idea that the best a grateful nation could offer someone who has won what Bradley Wiggins has won this year is the same honour handed out to banking chiefs and faceless Whitehall mandarins would be enough to make anyone flick the Vs, with no thought of victory.

Last call for Wolfie
We are led to believe by someone whose job it is to twist the truth that prime minister David “Call me a Liar” Cameron “interrupted his holiday” to open the Paralympic Games. We think we are supposed to be impressed that the leader of what TLR’s editor likes to call the Eton Mess stopped sitting on his backside in Cornwall, having spent how long sitting on his backside in Mallorca, to go and sit on his backside in London and metaphorically cut a ribbon. The key question nobody seemed bothered to ask was why was the Paralympic Games opening ceremony not in his diary? Had he intended to be there, why did his latest holiday have to be interrupted. If he did not intend to be there should we take that as the latest snub to our brave Paralympians? And talking of holidays and chancers, can we just nail the “Afghanistan Defence” of Harry Windsor for what it is, pure balls. Supporters of the only ginger person in the world more annoying than Chris Evans claimed that the “high jinks” in a Las Vegas hotel room – a hotel room the tax-payer was paying for –  which were quite rightly exposed by the world’s, if not Britain’s, press were simply a soldier letting off steam before returning to the stresses of duty. We know exactly what duty the ingrate offspring of privilege had been performing before his American trip: he spent a fortnight in the best seats in the house at the Olympics and before that he’d been poncing around in Belize and the like whittering on about legacy. When the revolution comes, comrade, we’ll have no more of this.

You’ve been Shakespeared.
Picture the scene. You are out and about in central London and decide to re-mortgage your house and buy a coffee and a little cake; well, we all need blood sugar. Impossible as it is to find peace and quiet in the Great Wen, you choose the arcades of Covent Garden where the din is at least delivered in refined surroundings. You take one sip of your coffee-style beverage and the bloke at the next table leaps to his feet and starts to shout about someone called Brabantio and some thieves. He seems a little distraught so you look the other way only to see another fellow leaning over a railing shouting, “What is the reason of this terrible summons” as bloke one marches off shouting something which for all the world sounds like “an old black ram is tupping your white ewe”. Before you can congratulate yourself that the mad shepherd is now bothering someone else and re-address your mid-morning snack, 50 self-satisfied ninnies in Max Wall wigs flood the space and start randomly quoting Shakespeare; well, more Shakespeare, obviously. When one young woman looks you in the eye and wails, “I care not; a man can die but once; we owe God a death”, do you snarl, “Don’t tempt me, love” and pointedly open your A to Z, jump to your feet and applaud the zany genius that is Mark Rylance, in whose flashmob What You Will event you have become entangled, or just punch the silly besom and count it a blow against the rising tide of Cultural Olympiad-inspired arty guff being handed down as genius and charged against your council tax bill? Sideliner knows the correct response and has booked a ticket with Mr Branson in the hope of catching Rylance or his ilk at it in the near future.





Row Z
The view from the back of the stand

last edition


other news

contact Row Z

Swimming: we did that, says Sport England

an independent view for the leisure industry

front page


back issues





about us

contact us

back page