Sunday 1 April
Rough conditions cause havoc during the Head of the River rowing race on the Thames in London. Several crews sink and only 29 of 45 crews finish. Glastonbury sells 137,500 tickets in ninety minutes. Shirley Bassey is among the artists that have confirmed they will appear. More tickets go on sale on 22 April. The Working Men’s Club and Institute Union wake up to discover that their decision to overturn the ban on women having equal rights at working men’s clubs was not a dream and that they have actually done it. The world track cycling championships finish with eleven medals for Britain, seven of them gold, 41% of all available titles. Ian Thorpe confirms the rumours that he was the subject of a doping test “irregularity” last May.

Monday 2 April
Acting chairman of the 2012 ODA, Sir Roy McNulty, says London’s Olympic budget is now realistic and will probably cost less than the recently projected £9.3bn. The National Trust opens Greenway House, Agatha Christie’s Devonshire home, to the public. Newcastle United announces  £300m plans to add 8,000 seats, a conference centre, hotels and flats to St James’ Park. An extension to the trophy room is rumoured to be part of phase two of the project.

Tuesday 3 April
Men want increasingly desire a better work-life balance and more time with their children, according to a survey in that bastion of sensitivity, FHM magazine. France’s TGV breaks its own speed record of 335mph between Paris and Strasbourg. Britain’s five biggest sports (football, cricket, tennis, rugbies league and union apparently) have urged the DCMS to extend the protection against ticket touts designed for the London Olympics. Touting regulations should apply to their sports, they say. Britain’s regional galleries are guilty of “extreme insularity”, says David Barrie, director of the Arts Fund. The Fund’s £5m over the next five years will help, they think.

Wednesday 4 April
A Health and Safety Executive report on the 2002 outbreak of legionnaires’ disease at the Forum 28 arts and leisure centre in Barrow-in-Furness lists six key failings and a number of recommendations for councils seeking to prevent further outbreaks. A report from the Department for Education and Skills suggest that children spending more than 35 hours a week at nursery school show higher levels of antisocial behaviour than those spending less time in day care. The ODA announces the next phase of the 2012 project: ‘demolish, dig and design’ and a ten-point work programme. “We have hit every target so far,” says ODA chief exec, David Higgins. Mexico City follows the example of Paris by bringing the beach to the centre of its city. Four beaches are being constructed in parks around the city. Violence involving football fans and police is seen again during Manchester United’s match against Roma. The court of arbitration for sport upholds Christine Ohuruogu’s ban for missing three out-of-competition tests, making future her appearance in a British team unlikely.

Thursday 5 April
ABTA estimates that 2.5m British residents will flee the sunny Easter weather by travelling abroad, while motoring organisations predict 18m cars on the road over the weekend. A small victory for environmentalists (and we’re all environmentalists now) as the Wyevale garden centre chain announces it will stop selling patio heaters, that bit of outdoor equipment described by former energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, as “environmental obscenities”. Novelist Ian McEwen returns the pebbles that he borrowed from Chesil Beach to serve as an inspiration for his latest novel, titled On Chesil Beach. He responded to Weymouth and Portland BC’s ‘request’ to return them (or pay the £2,000 fine) having busted himself live on Radio 4. Columbian Doris Salcedo will be the next artist to respond to the challenge of the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. Her work will be unveiled next year. Government plans to use lie detectors to identify benefit cheats set minds whirring among those responsible for the national fitness surveys (“Are you sure you’ve been to the gym twice this week, sir?”). Sir Michael Lyons is named as the 21st chairman of the BBC and immediately reassures radio listeners with his industry pedigree. “I don’t watch much television,” he says.

Friday 6 April
Lynton Council in Devon announce plans to cull a number of the wild goats that have been a recent feature of the town’s seaside streets. The local Friends of the Goats group described the decision as “very sad”. End-of-week polls in the French elections show Jean-Marie Le Pen at 16%, a fine showing given that earlier in the week he had offered a remarkable solution to the continuing angst and agitation of an increasingly agitated youth: manu militari. This sounds fine in Latin but rather less visionary when we translates the phrase into English and we discover it means masturbation. Meanwhile the Disney Corporation will include same-sex couples on its Fairy Tale Wedding programme at its California and Florida theme parks.

Saturday 7 April
Arts Council England chief executive, Peter Hewitt, writes in The Guardian: “There is currently a view in Whitehall and Westminster that the arts sector can absorb the impact of the Olympics raid on lottery funding without visible impact. This is not true.” Charles Saumarez Smith, the soon-to-be ex-director of the National Gallery, lays into Gordon Brown for being “completely deaf” to the need to save works of art for the nation.

Sunday 8 April
The government is prepared to back the Natural England plan to apply the right to roam to the whole of Britain’s coastline, according to environment secretary and New Labour poster boy, David Milliband. “England’s coastline is a national treasure,” he tells the Sunday Indie. Slovenian athlete Martin Strel completes his 65-day swim down the Amazon, avoiding the piranhas by covering his wet suit in petrol and avoiding the attentions of the toothpick fish by not urinating directly into the water. You knew it was the right thing to do and now you know why.

Monday 9 April
A study by Professor Paechter of the University of London of how girls play suggests that girls’ impractical clothing and the dominance by boys of school playgrounds could prevent girls from being involved in energetic games. Former 100m world record holder Tim Montgomery cleverly directs attention away from doping allegations by pleading guilty to involvement with a multi-million dollar money laundering scam.

Tuesday 10 April
An online survey (where else?) finds a new national pastime for the UK. Wilfing is the aimless browsing of the web, taking its name from the phrase ‘what was I looking for?” Another survey, this time from the CBI and insurance people AXA, suggests that 21 million ‘suspect sick days’ cost British industry £1.6bn last year. A national chain of school outfitters introduces a blazer with a 52-inch chest and trousers with a 42-inch waist.

Wednesday 11 April
Sir Peter Maxwell, master of the Queen’s music, gets his abuse in while he still can, accusing Tony Blair of platitudes with regard to the arts. He suggests that the government is “utterly philistine”. The Office of National Statistics household expenditure report shows that spending on recreation and culture makes up 12% of average household expenditure, a rise of 3% since 1971; spending on restaurants and hotels is also 12%, a rise of 2%. Speaking in Cardiff, the prime minister decides that now is the time for him to be “lurching into total frankness” and he starts by saying the recent run of knife and gun murders in London is due to a distinctive black culture. Russia’s chief medical officer admits that his nation has a serious drink problem. Russia now has 2.3m registered alcoholics with the average Russian getting through 34 litres of vodka a year. Taiwanese vet Chang Po-yu attempts to re-enact a modern, reptilian version of Albert and Lion and loses his arm in the process. Surgeons take seven hours to reattach it after zoo staff recover the limb from the croc’s jaws.

Thursday 12 April
Middlesbrough’s talking CCTV cameras issue their first apology for a very public but erroneous bollocking administered to a Ms Brewster on the occasion of her failing to litter the public realm. A team of UK scientists  publish a report suggesting a clear link between genetics and obesity. “Improving lifestyle is still the key to reducing the obesity epidemic but some people will find it harder because of their genes,” says Graham Hitman of London University.

Friday 13 April
Brazil files the requisite papers in the bid to host the 2014 football world cup. Columbia pulled out earlier this week and it seems that the Brazilians are number one in a field of one. Decision expected in November. Meanwhile, cricket’s  own world cup continues to ignite interest in literally hundreds of households around the world.

Saturday 14 April
Andy Murray breaks into the world top ten rankings just as John Lennon’s piano reaches the Ford Theatre in Washington DC on its ‘peace tour’. George Michael, who paid £1.5m for the instrument on the grounds that Imagine was composed upon it, thought that it would be a good idea.

Sunday 15 April
Culture secretary Tessa Jowell writes in The Observer that the arts should support the 2012 project with some of their lottery funding because the cultural Olympiad will be a huge success, the London Olympics will promote British arts and culture, and its only 5% of arts funding over four years. “2012 will be the final jewel in the crown for British culture,” she says. Lewis Hamilton continues his bid to become the next British sports hero with three Formula One podium finishes out of three.

Monday 16 April
Amora, Britain’s first permanent sex exhibition, opens in the Trocadero in London. “We want to improve attitudes,” says the director of exhibits. Sir Roy McNulty, acting chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, says insufficient planning was done on the budget at the outset of the 2012 project. After the driest April on record, water delays the start of play for Middlesex at Lord’s when sprinklers are left on by mistake. Those among the crowd that notice genuinely don’t mind the delay

Tuesday 17 April
England’s interest in the cricket world cup ends with a whimper after an embarrassing loss to South Africa. India’s supreme court ponders the legality of government plans to remove the food vendors from Delhi’s streets in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Wednesday 18 April
Mintel research suggests that Britons spent £60m on overseas trips for cosmetic surgery and operations last year. The ‘big five’ sports  meet to discuss how the 2012 project is threatening the grass roots in their sports. The Premier League’s multi-billion deal for the television rights for 2007-2010 will no doubt be mentioned briefly before someone quickly changes the subject. Dickens World, the new £62m literary theme park, opens its doors. “I want to be 110% Dickens,” says the commercial manager, Ross Hutchins. David Dein, main man in the back rooms of Arsenal, vacates the premises after 24 years. Michel Platini tries to raise the status of the Euro 2012 football championships by struggling Jack Rogge-style with the all-important envelope bearing the words ‘Poland and Ukraine’.

Thursday 19 April
Berlin zoo receives a death threat targeting Knut, the orphaned polar bear that is currently attracting 15,000 visitors a day. This follows months of arguments from some of the more excitable elements of the animal rights movement that the bear should be put down for its own good.

Friday 20 April
A report from the Marine Conservation Society suggests that there are almost 2,000 items of rubbish per kilometre on Britain’s beaches, almost double the number found in the mid-nineties. In a four-page feature in The Guardian Manal Omar tells the story of the consternation caused at her local David Lloyd centre by her arrival at the centre’s poolside wearing her five-piece “Islamic-style” swim suit. “I never felt so isolated and discriminated against as I have these past few weeks in Oxford,” she says.

Saturday 21 April
Jackie Oakley’s commentary on Match of the Day, the first by a woman on the programme, fails to bring about the immediate collapse of professional football as many had predicted.

Sunday 22 April
The Department of Health is considering a BMA report on tackling smoking among children. Packs of ten, it seems, could be on the way out. Oxford professor Ann Buchanan publishes a report, ‘Barriers to Boys’ Attainment’, which says that an absence of a sports culture is to blame for educational underachievement in boys. Arts and sports administrators unite to warn that cuts in lottery funding to pay for the 2012 Olympics would undermine their institutions. A call for a Commons debate is likely. Sewage spills into the Firth of Forth, threatening wildlife and visitor numbers, while 36,000 people run the London marathon. NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg unveils plans for a congestion charge modelled on that of London.

Monday 23 April
St George’s Hall reopens in Liverpool. Finished in 1865, the hall is a neo-classical building that was described by the famous architectural assessor Pevsner as “one of the finest in the world”. Tennis fan and famed enlivener of international relations, Boris Yeltsin, dies. Meanwhile, psychologist Aric Sigman tells MPs that TV for young children could result in health problems, including obesity.

Tuesday 24 April
Tessa Jowell is among those MPs backing attempts to exempt Parliament from freedom of information legislation. Surely Ms Jowell of all people has nothing to hide? Meanwhile, a coterie of senior arts and culture figures write to MPs about the threat to the Olympic community legacy if the lottery is raided to fund the delivery of the Games. All England club chairman Tim Philips says Wimbledon is not planning evening sessions, although the new roof on centre court will give a “flexibility” that could, some argue, make such a thing possible, if it were desirable, which it isn’t.

Wednesday 25 April
Alan Ball, the youngest member of England’s 1966 World Cup squad, dies. The BBC Proms season is announced, including an evening of West End show tunes. “The last thing we could be accused of is dumbing down,” says Proms director Nicholas Kenyon. IOC president Jacques Rogge is questioned by journalists regarding China’s human rights record during a press conference. In the harsh light of the top table he bravely asks Hein Verbruggen to come up with an answer and sits looking at him pointedly.

Thursday 26 April
Stuart Kennedy, a professional strippergram who employs a policeman motif during his work, is charged for impersonating a policeman. Keith Khan, who takes up his position of head of culture for the 2012 Olympics in June, says that the London Games offers a chance for the host nation to rebrand itself. Mr Khan’s CV includes the Queen’s golden jubilee celebrations and the acrobatic performances at the Millennium Dome. The traveller’s favourite train, the Trans-Siberian, acquires a luxurious tint with the launch of a private train that offers tickets for a fiver shy of five and half grand. The Australian nation reaffirms its reputation for plain speaking when it bars Snoop Dogg from entry. The decision is taken on the grounds of his multiple convictions and the fact that “he doesn’t seem the sort of bloke we want in this country”. Government ministers all around the world wonder why they didn’t say that.

Friday 27 April
Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft and the 19th richest man in the world, is the latest festival of wealth to eye up an English football club. This time Southampton is under scrutiny. Russian cellist, conductor, campaigner and cultural icon, Mstislav Rostropovich, dies in Moscow at the age of 80. A survey in Germany suggests that the host of the 2006 football world cup is experiencing a surge in the birth rate nine months after Germany’s impressive performance during the competition.

Saturday 28 April
This year’s traditional raft of stories regarding unusual British summer weather has an original opening: an earthquake in Kent measures 4.3 on the Richter scale. This April is the hottest April on record, by the way. A scheme to recreate the layout of the Crystal Palace as it was rebuilt in Crystal Palace park is unveiled and it might include the water towers built by Brunel to feed the park’s fountains. Leeds are relegated to the third division for the first time in the club’s history; no word yet from Ken Bates. The cricket world cup finally ends in Barbados with an Australian victory; no one is surprised. Arsenal becomes the first British club to win the women’s UEFA cup, adding the trophy to this season’s Premier League and the League Cup.


the world of leisure
April 2007

The ODA announces the next phase of the 2012 project: ‘demolish, dig and design’ and a ten-point work programme. “We have hit every target so far,” says ODA chief exec, David Higgins."




Sir Michael Lyons is named as the 21st chairman of the BBC and immediately reassures radio listeners with his industry pedigree. “I don’t watch much television,” he says.






Arts Council England chief executive, Peter Hewitt, writes in The Guardian: “There is currently a view in Whitehall and Westminster that the arts sector can absorb the impact of the Olympics raid on lottery funding without visible impact. This is not true.”



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