Saturday 1 December
Storms hit the UK, bringing 60-foot waves to the west coast of Ireland, where intrepid surfers ignore coast guard warnings and get amongst it. Speculation regarding the identity of the England football manager continues; Jose Mourinho is current favourite and he’s got a blueprint for success, apparently.

Sunday 2 December
Sir Richard Eyre, former director of the National Theatre, warns of a cultural apartheid which denies millions of people access to high culture. Speaking of which, the Spice Girls world tour kicks off in Vancouver. Rising rents in Brick Lane, the heart of London’s East End Bangladeshi community, are changing the culture of the area as corporate businesses move in, forcing traditional restaurants out. The GB cycle team start the world cup season where they left off: with medals.

Monday 3 December
Gibson launch a self-tuning guitar. Channel 4 is to scrap its schools’ output in favour of an online initiative. A Victorian theatre at the former Middlesex home of a physician, Johan Haydon Langdon Down (who first described what is now known as Down’s syndrome), is unveiled after a £68,000 restoration. Down believed music and drama were vital to the welfare of patients and all staff had to be able to sing or play an instrument. Proposals to cut £15bn from the defence budget causes unrest within the cabinet. The defence budget is currently £34bn. Jay Hunt is appointed controller of BBC1; she leaves her post as director of programmes at Channel Five. Meanwhile Bob Shennan, controller of BBC Radio Five Live has jumped to Channel 4 Radio. Mark Wallinger wins the Turner Prize, presented in Liverpool. Nicholas Penny is confirmed as director of the National Gallery. Police are investigating the shooting of sea eagle on a grouse moor in east Scotland. A number of retail groups, restaurant company Clapham House and pub group Regent Inns among them, issue warnings about the impact of the current financial climate on profits and plans for expansion. Sir Keith Mills, one of the key figures in London’s successful 2012 bid, is to sell LMG, the company that owns the Nectar card system, and earn £161m along the way. Muttiah Muralitharan takes his 709th Test wicket to succeed Shane Warne as cricket’s leading wicket taker. A change of tack at Sport England raises the interesting prospect of finding Wembley Stadium’s naming rights among the organisation’s assets.

Tuesday 4 December
The Scottish executive uses powers found in the 1997 Town and Country Planning Act to call in Donald Trump’s golf course project for reconsideration. Aberdeen’s local council had refused planning permission for the “£1bn project” and The Donald had threatened to stomp off to Ireland. A satellite navigation system for motorists that will include historical and cultural points of interest along the route is launched.

Wednesday 5 December
Communities secretary Hazel Blears starts the ball rolling on the project to provide role models for British black youth with four prominent figures: fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, entrepreneur Tim Campbell, policeman Leroy Logan and political campaigner Simon Woolley. Justice secretary Jack Straw (sic) announces plans for three new ‘super prisons’ which will cost of £2.7bn. Sam Mendes is to direct the Opera Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne in 2010. The DCMS is to provide a £50m grant for an extension to the Tate Modern gallery in London. The whole project will cost £215m. Sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis admits he has missed two drugs tests since 2005 and is therefore only one away from a potential ban. “My two are for being lazy,” he explains. The drugs test he failed in 2005 was for cannabis. Meanwhile, reformed drug cheat David Millar is voted onto the Wada athletes committee. It seems it isn’t our imagination: Dolly Parton really has turned up in Rotherham to promote the Imagination Library literacy scheme.

Thursday 6 December
Actor Pete Postlethwaite is to perform King Lear at the Everyman Theatre, where he learned his trade, as part of Liverpool’s year as capital of culture. Amy Winehouse is nominated for six Grammy awards. Let’s hope she makes it to February, when the winners will be announced in Los Angeles. The Vatican has discovered a Michelangelo sketch for the dome of St Peter’s. The Indian supreme court has ruled that women should not be banned from working in bars selling alcohol. UK Sport’s anti-doping role will be passed to a National Anti-Doping Agency (Nada) by 2010.

Friday 7 December
Children at school are studying too many lightweight poems, says Ofsted. The 2,500 oil paintings held by the Government Art Collection are now available in a catalogue with 319 illustrated pages. An insurance company estimates that bringing up a child in Britain costs £186,000, some £7,000 of which goes on leisure and recreation. It’s not enough, we say! The race-fixing trial which includes former champion jockey Kieran Fallon among the defendants collapses; relief all round for those in the dock. Karlheinz Stockhausen, giant of musical modernism, dies at the age of 79. New Nobel laureate, Doris Lessing, warns against the inanity of the internet and its seduction of a generation. The Royal Philharmonic Society and Classic FM launch a campaign to “refocus attention on the ear in a society increasingly dominated by the eye”.

Saturday 9 December
Berlin is planning a big wheel of its own, which at 185m, will be Europe’s tallest. In late night Las Vegas Ricky Hatton falls in the tenth against Floyd Mayweather. Keiran Fallon’s relief lasts all of 24 hours; French racing authorities announce that he has tested positive for a banned substance.

Sunday 10 December
Joe Calzaghe wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and his dad, Joe, wins the coach of the year gong. Football coach Margaret Simmons is acknowledged as Unsung Hero.
 National Express takes over the London to Edinburgh rail route and promises one hundred days of action to tackle the reputation acquired for the route by GNER.

Monday 10 December
The Centre for Cities finds that the UK’s small cities, such as Aldershot, Oxford and Telford, are among the most popular places for people to live. Led Zeppelin’s much anticipated reunion gig at the Dome goes off unhindered by finger injuries. The government announces plans to reshape childhood for the most disadvantaged families. Free nursery care is a key part of the plan, as is five hours of arts education a week, personal mentors and emphasis on health and fitness; there will be £385m for playgrounds and youth centres. Diane Lees is appointed director of the Imperial War Museum. In perhaps the only Olympic Price Watch story that matters, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell reveals the current budget for the Olympic Delivery Authority: £6.09bn; other costs, including £2bn contingency, could take the total to £9.35bn. Jose decides he doesn’t want to be England manager after all.

Tuesday 11 December
The British Library announces that it has acquired Harold Pinter’s store of unpublished material, including correspondence, for £1.1m. Las Vegas is to open a museum dedicated to its mob-related history. Paula Radcliffe will be among 42 leading British athletes taking part in a special ‘heat camp’ in South Africa next month.

Wednesday 12 December
Sustrans’ Connect 2 project won the £50m People’s Lottery prize, beating three other short-listed schemes; ITV says that 282,000 people voted, 42% of whom supported the winning scheme. The case of the Bolton art fakers (see World of Leisure passim) claims another victim: the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gauguin sculpture, for which it paid $125,000 in 1997, was made in a shed in Greater Manchester rather than in a studio in Tahiti. Russia’s foreign ministry announces that it is to close the British Council’s regional offices. Organisers of a exhibition of terracotta warriors in Hamburg offer refunds when it admits that the sculptures are fakes, rather than 2,000-year-old members of the Qin dynasty Terracotta Army. Merrill Lynch issues a sell note on Sports Direct, the company that the bank helped to float on the Stock Exchange. Lily Allen is to be on the judging panel for the Orange Prize for Fiction next year. Marion Jones is banned from attending the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Thursday 13 December
Plans for a new academy school in Birmingham dedicated to the performing arts are revealed by academies minister, Lord Adonis. Three weeks after announcing a ‘root and branch’ review of its own ability to deliver an international game plan of appropriate quality, the FA appoints Fabio Capello as England manager on what is rumoured to be a £6.5m a year contract. British actors are a feature of the short list for the 2008 Golden Globes. It seems that Aldershot is the front runner as base for the British team in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Damien Hirst donates four pieces from his own collection to the Tate.

Friday 14 December
The Savoy, one of London’s most famous hotels, closes its doors in preparation for a £150m refit. Culture professionals will note that the hotel’s origin was as a few rooms attached to richard D’Oyly Carte’s theatre. International Leisure Development reveals plans for a 2,000 hectare casino complex, Gran Scala; the scheme will include 32 casinos, 232 restaurants and 500 shops, attracting 25 millions people a year to one of Spain’s driest regions. Meanwhile, one of the UK’s biggest gambling groups, Gala Coral, announces losses 11% bigger than last year. Fabio Capello is appointed manager of the English national team by the Football Association on a starting salary of £6.5m a year.

Saturday 15 December
Victoria Keon-Cohen and Dunja Dnezevic explain why they and their fellow models have lobbied to be allowed to join the actors’ union, Equity. The Spice Girls stop squabbling long enough to take the stage on their first night in the UK.

Sunday 16 December
Kevin Whately’s added his voice to protests agains the development of a canal-side boatyard in Oxford. Elsewhere it seems plans are afoot to build a Christian theme park in the UK, following the model of the Holy Land Experience in Orlando. Junior teams at Empoli, an Italian local football club, go on strike in protest at the bad language, threats and actual violence that is a regular feature of the parental support on the touchline.

Monday 17 December
The Commons justice committee asks justice secretary Jack Straw if he’s sure he’s got his figures right regarding the £1.2bn price put on a prison building programme. Mr Straw thinks that the UK prison population will be 96,000 by 2014. The Arts Council lets 194 arts organisations that their funding will be ending next April; cue high dudgeon. Lincoln City are hoping to become the first women’s club to own their won ground; negotiations are ongoing to fund a football centre with a 2,000-seat stadium. At the other end of the footballing rainbow, Fabio Capell says past reputations will count for nothing in his team selections. He will also be taking a month to learn English, more than enough to become the most articulate member of a professional football squad. Brian Barwick, FA-supremo, admits that appointing a foreign manager represents a failure of the FA’s coaching system. Liverpool FC’s new stadium plans have had to be scaled down as a result of the trans-Atlantic financial downturn. Amsterdam’s mayor announces plans to clean up the red light district in order to cut crime relating to prostitution; opportunities for building restoration and lucrative property development could also be a spin-off, note some cynics. The British Olympic Association says that it will no longer accept mitigating circumstances for missed drugs tests. Sir Norman Reid, director of the Tate Gallery in the sixties and seventies, dies at the age of 91.

Tuesday 18 December
A good day for British cultural icons: Lewis Hamilton is banned from driving in France for speeding and Amy Winehouse is arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. Veteran leisure business figure Alan Jackson declines to join the board of Sports Direct, the sports retailing company that habitually has the word ‘troubled’ somewhere near. A clearly rattled Glen Hoddle suggests that Mr Capello shouldn’t get too fancy with his word skills. “Make it easy on yourself,” advises Glen. The IOC awards the digital broadcast rights for the Beijing Games to the Chinese state broadcaster, which already has the television rights.

Wednesday 19 December
Panic on Piccadilly as the Russian authorities withdraw permission for the transport of paintings to the Royal Academy’s exhibition scheduled to open next month. Olympic Price Watch: a new road bridge across the Firth of Forth will cost £4.2bn and take five years to build. Still in Scotland, it seems that EventScotland are discussing a start for the Tour de France. The fall out from Manchester United’s first team squad Christmas party hits the press: one arrest on suspicion of rape and pleny of tales of sleaze and excess.

Thursday 20 December
The Metropolitan Police Authority discusses the recovery of “full policing costs” from sports clubs, which currently pay only for policing in their grounds. Nicola Adedeji, a former house manager at the Barbican, wins her claim against the Corporation of London for sex discrimination and unfair dismissal; the case revolved around her requests for flexible working. The collection of art works amassed by the late RB Kitaj, including works by Freud, Hockney and Bacon, is to be sold at auction. Thieves get away with works worth £50m after a raid on the Sau Paulo Art Museum in Brazil. The England cricket team are bowled out for 81 in Sri Lanka and Paul Collingwood says the team is heading in the right direction. The FA appoints David Triesman, a Labour peer, Spurs season ticket holder and former member of the Communist Party, as its first independent chairman.

Friday 21 December
The government confirms that new legislation regarding the seizure of assets of foreign creditors is to be implemented on the hurry up in the new year, meaning that the Royal Academy exhibition is back on. Slow ticket sales for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are blamed on the uncertain economic climate; the weather forecasts might not be helping.

Saturday 22 December
Alesha Dixon wins Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC. Environmentalist Adrain Phillips warns the National Park Societies that they must adapt to environmental changes if they are to survive; wind turbines, hydro-electric and solar schemes should be on their agenda, he suggests.

Sunday 23 December
The Palace launches its own website on YouTube, showing Royal footage from 1957 for those that would like to see it. Cricket Australia say that anyone found guilty of using racist taunts during the Melbourne test, which starts on Boxing Day, will be banned from the MCG for life.

Wednesday 26 December
A tiger escapes its cage at San Francisco zoo, killing one visitor and mauling two others. Manchester City Council adds a blue plaque to the Free Trade Hall, as it now isn’t, updating the details of the Peterloo Massacre, which took place on the site in 1819. Unlike the plaque already in place nearby, this one mentions the fifteen people who died and the six hundred injured by troops attacking the crowd gathered for a peaceful demonstration in support of electoral reform.

Thursday 27 December
After a few days of festive respite, the cultural world continues, revealing that Sting and his fellow Police men made some £66m from their US tour this year. Plans emerge from within Whitehall that the age at which one is allowed to drive a car solo may be increased from seventeen to eighteen. Also emerging from Whitehall advice from the children’s minister, Kevin Brennan, that parents should take their kids outside for an hour’s exercise a day over the holiday period. Cultural icon for the hard of thinking, Paris Hilton, seems to have spoiled it for everyone else in her family with the announcement that her grandfather, head of the Hilton hotel chain and son of the founder, is to leave almost all his £2.3bn fortune to a charitable foundation; his grand daughtdaughter’s idea of what constitutes money well spent is thought to have been a factor. Perhaps Ms Hilton should give Joey Barton a ring? Mr Barton is nicked at 5am in a Liverpool chippy after “an altercation”. As he’s already awaiting trial after a similar incident he’ll be spending the new year inside.

Friday 28 December
The Department for Children, Schools and Families suggests that boys fall behind girls in their educational achievement partly because nursery staff try to stifle their desire to play with toy guns. The BBC cops flak for its expenses bill, which includes plenty on lunches, leaving parties and opera tickets. The new year honours list probably includes some people who deserve recognition for their contribution to the nation’s cultural achievements but the print is very small. Reading FC striker Dave Kitson says he doesn’t own a car, although he does have a sit in some of his team-mates’ motors sometimes, thinking it’s all too flash and expensive.

Saturday 29 December
Prince Charles asks, perhaps not unreasonably, “Can’t anyone have a ride in peace?” as photographers try to capture him in full gallop on the Queen’s 20,000-acre Norfolk estate. Mancunian miserablist Morrissey donates £20,000 to the Salford Lads Club. Phil O’Donnell, captain of Motherwell FC, dies during a match. He was 35.

Sunday 30 December
The five-a-day advice for fruit and veg consumption is to be revealed as a bit of a lemon. Police officers in Northamptonshire are to trial weighted lassos as tools to rescue those at risk of drowning. The lassos have been developed by the RLSS. Calls to competitions held by the BBC will be capped at 15p, says the Beeb.

Monday 31 December
Culture secretary James Purnell brings the ‘immunity from seizure’ legislation into effect ahead of schedule to calm Russian fears over sending their artworks to the UK. The brand new tradition of fireworks on London’s South Bank makes its mark.



the world of leisure
December 2007

The government announces plans to reshape childhood for the most disadvantaged families. Free nursery care is a key part of the plan, as is five hours of arts education a week, personal mentors and emphasis on health and fitness


A change of tack at Sport England raises the interesting prospect of finding Wembley Stadium’s naming rights among the organisation’s assets.



It seems it isn’t our imagination: Dolly Parton really has turned up in Rotherham to promote the Imagination Library literacy scheme.


An insurance company estimates that bringing up a child in Britain costs £186,000, some £7,000 of which goes on leisure and recreation. It’s not enough, we say!

last month


other news


an independent view for the leisure industry








about us

contact us