Sunday 1 July
Henman Hill moves north as Wembley hosts the retro-fest that is the Concert for Diana. Saudi Arabia, home to the world’s first desert snow centre, has come over all environmental with plans for an indoor garden that will be five times bigger than the Eden Project. British engineers are involved. The smoking ban comes into effect in England. Newby Hall near Ripon reports the theft of a Chippendale table valued at £500,000, possibly stolen to order. Keep ‘em peeled.

Monday 2 July
Staying with the light-fingered leitmotif, police figures suggest that a bicycle is stolen every five minutes in England and Wales, a 10% rise on 2001 figures. Jamie Murray puts his oar – some say racquet – into the debate on British tennis and laments the focus on British failure. “People in this country seem to want players to mess up,” he says. “They love the losers.” However, he says that the LTA is quite right to pay for his brother’s coach. The Japan Sumo Association cancels its recruitment tests for the first time in its history after they failed to attract a single new recruit. Jeremy Hunt MP takes over the shadow culture brief from Hugo Swire, whose comment that museums would be able to charge entrance fees under a Tory Government is thought to have cost him the job.

Tuesday 3 July
ITV chairman Michael Grade accuses broadcasters of “casual contempt” for viewers during a speech to the Royal Television Society. The BBC annual report promises viewers more on-screen innovation but more repeats. RNLI lifeguard Shane Davies prompts a full-scale air-sea rescue and a RNLI enquiry as to how he got trapped in sea caves with a friend while on duty. Tony Blair takes time out of his busy post-PM schedule to open a library in his soon-to-be-former Sedgefield constituency. With an eye on the 2010 world cup, FIFA officials swallow something hard and jagged as the South African government release figures showing 19,000 people were murdered in the country last year. Pub group Greene King tells its share-holders that their experience of the smoking ban in Scotland stands them in good stead for the English equivalent. Rumours begin to circulate that the new home secretary, Jacqui Smith, is a caravan afficionado. Watch this space. The run-in to the arrival of the Tour in London focuses on who has and who hasn’t signed the “I haven’t doped” declaration. Two of the teams yet to sign say they will in a minute. Ken Bates’ attempts to pick up Leeds United on the cheap are foiled when Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs turn down Colonel Ken’s offer of eight pence in the pound on the club’s sizeable debts.

Wednesday 4 July
The British Museum unveils plans for a new 1,000 sq metre, £100m gallery to house its blockbuster exhibitions. The Broon cabinet is complete, including a DCMS team with James Purnell as secretary of state. As the rain falls at Wimbledon, plans for next year’s tournament includes more public screens on which to show the covers in place. It seems someone may have been cheating in Formula One. Is it Bernie?

Thursday 5 July
Communities secretary Hazel Blears unveils plans to give a direct say in how local authorities spend their money so leisure professionals could be in for a welcome boost. It seems that when oil companies are seeking to ‘entertain’ government officials they still look to leisure, with Wimbledon, Goodwood and the crown jewels at the Tower of London among the big tickets. George Melly, musician, surrealist and all-round liver of life, finally decides enough is enough at the age of 80. A squall off Dun Laoghaire, south of Dublin, puts 110 children into the water during a sailing regatta. All are rescued unharmed. Authorities in Rio de Janiero cancel the Brazilian leg of the Live Earth concert programme as the police are too busy with the city’s drug gangs to provide security for the gig.

Friday 6 July
James Purnell’s first speech as culture secretary is made at the National Portrait Gallery and reveals plans to free the culture sector from targets in favour of excellence. The Live Earth gigs kick off around the world, generating carbon footprints, cyncism and musical enthusiasm in almost equal measure. Charles Kennedy is “given some advice” by transport police when he persists in smoking out the window of the train to Plymouth. Billy Bragg and Mick Jones visit Wormwood Scrubs to promote the Jail Guitar Doors campaign to provide musical tuition for inmates. Moira Cameron becomes the first yeoman warder (beefeater to you and me) at the Tower; it has only taken 522 years. Svennis finally finds a job! Mr Eriksson is unveiled as the manager of Man City.

Saturday 7 July
Le Tour arrives in London and a million people come to town to see the show. Bicycle use among adults in the UK is up 40% since 2001. Figures suggest that more people now ride a bike for recreation than play soccer.

Sunday 8 July
One man dies and another is seriously injured when five men jump from Clacton pier, prompting coastguards to warn again against the dangers of ‘tombstoning’. The RNLI launches a new jet-powered lifeboat that can be launched in only one metre of water. Kent goes mental for the Tour, taking the estimated total of spectators for the race’s weekend visit to the UK to four million. Two people are gored by bulls at Pamplona and FIFA withdraws its ban on international matches in La Paz, Bolivia’s lofty capital. Federer matches Borg’s five-in-a-row Wimbledon achievement and Britain finally gets a Wimbledon champion as Jamie Murray wins the mixed doubles with Jelena Jankovich.

Monday 9 July
In his inaugural speech as president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Bill Bryson proposes that the whole of the country is turned into a national park. “It’s all lovely and there’s not much of it,” he says. Australian scientists pour cold water on elite sports performers’ love of ice baths for recovery. Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme is so overcome by the British reaction to the sight of acres of lycra and a bit of watery sunshine that he makes rash promises to return. “It is not possible for us not to return,” he says.

Tuesday 10 July
The Commons public accounts committee warns that better financial controls will be needed if Olympic costs are to be kept below the projected £9.3bn. Sebastian Faulks is to take on the task of recreating Bond for a new novel next year.

Wednesday 11 July
Plans for a supercasino in Manchester are scrapped by the new administration. Mr Brown’s announcement provokes both celebration and dismay but most surprised are MPs who first hear about it in Parliament rather than on the Today programme. A Charity4Children reports says that hundreds of thousands of children will be wandering about with nothing to do over the summer. “The number of teenagers who go off the rails is a problem for us all,” says Lily Allen, who should surely know of what she speaks. In Northern Ireland the fact that events to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne provoke concerns over air pollution are seen as a major step forward. Anthony Minghella upsets everyone who’s not even good at one thing by announcing he’s to write the libretto for a new work for the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The England football team are offered another highly plausible excuse for failure when it is announced that they will play their penultimate Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia on a synthetic pitch. The FA reaction is to send four people – four people – to inspect the surface.

Thursday 12 July
A Leeds restaurant puts batter scraps on the menu for £2, provoking outrage among everyone north of the Watford Gap and complete bafflement by everyone south of it. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority announces plans for a new, slimmed-down curriculum for eleven- to fourteen-year olds, freeing up to 25% of the school week for new classes geared to the needs of individual pupils. Michael Eavis suggests that the online-only booking system for this year’s Glastonbury created an audience that was too middle-class and too middle-aged. Sports Direct, Mike Ashley’s discount retail chain, buys 60% of outdoor retailer Field and Trek for £5m; Sports Direct shares finished the day at 187.5p, down from the February float price of 300p. Hopkins Architects unveil initial drawings for the 2012 velodrome, which will have a lovely roof.

Friday 13 July
Los Angeles collides with Planet Beckham as David arrives to play for The LA Galaxy. “It’s all about the football,” he says, while his wife works out the camera angles. Gordon Brown puts his tennis serve under scrutiny when he announces plans for a minimum of five hours school sport every week, with an emphasis on competitive sport. The Metropolitan Police is fined £75,000 plus £50,000 cost following the drowning of two boys in a police swimming pool at which one lifeguard was on duty in July 2002. Wembley Stadium reveals that the pitch will be relaid this summer and again at the end of the year after a motorsport event. And to think the Wembley was once world-famous for the quality rather than the frequency of its pitch. Salam Sdiri is minding his own business waiting for the next round in the long jump competition at the Golden League meeting in Rome when he is hit by a stray javelin. He was taken to hospital and later discharged with minor wounds.

Saturday 14 July
The Navy Club in Cypress, southern California gets round to apologising for discriminating against Tiger Woods due to the colour of his skin when he was seven.

Sunday 15 July
The little purple genius that is Prince launches his new album, Planet Earth, with a free copy for every reader of the Mail on Sunday, a paper picked, no doubt, for the prevalence of Prince fans among its readership. The average student’s room contains £4,200 of kit and is in danger of getting nicked, says, you’ve guessed it, an insurance company. China announces a ban on the export of all antiquities dating frm before1911 in an effort to curb the disappearance of many works of art. Also announced is the closure of the branch of Starbucks that was within the Forbidden City in Beijing. Meanwhile, Iceland is the top of the European table for countries giving its citizens a long and happy life. Paris starts its Velib scheme of 10,600 bicycles available to rent from 750 stations around the city and Oscar Pistorius, “the fastest man on no legs”, is disqualified for running outside his lane in Sheffield. He’s not happy. Britain’s rowering squad are: they have won the world cup for the first time since it began in 1997.

Monday 16 July
Hold on to your turntables: it looks like the vinyl single is on a come-back, according to the BPI. Apparently there’s been a big jump in the sales of singles on the allegedly retro format as teenagers discover the romance of proper records. The National Consumer Council report, Watching, Wanting and Wellbeing, suggests that children are losing out on family experiences as a result of TV and computers being used as “electronic babysitters”. Charles Saatchi’s new gallery, off the King’s Road in London, will be free to enter following a sponsorship deal with auctioneers Phillips. The Queen’s swan marker and swan warden take to the Thames in pursuit of their swan-upping duties. Metronet, the company undertaking the £17bn upgrade of the London Underground as part of a public-private partnership, is staring financial collapse in the face, threatening the rail link to the site of the London Olympic Games, which is now looking really good value for money.

Tuesday 17 July
The Children’s Society say that their poll suggests that 61% of parents don’t get enough time with their children. The three-month India Now festival starts in London today, promoting the capital’s ties with the “booming Indian economy”. Following the success of the Grand Depart in London, British Cycling is thinking about starting a British team to join the ranks of the professional peloton. Graham Brown of the R&A warms up the Professional Golf Writers’ annual dinner for the Open at Carnoustie with a speech littered with racist and sexist gags.

Wednesday 18 July
Get the conkers out, says secretary of state for children. Ed Balls, gets stuck into his job with a speech saying children should be encouraged to explore and be adventurous. The fall out over the TV premium phone line scams sweeps up Comic Relief among revelations of the BBC’s transgressions. The Commons transport select committee proposes raising the age at which one can obtain a driving licence to eighteen. Transport for London, the public agency responsible for all of the capital’s transport infrastructure and services, pours £750m to keep the Metronet deal afloat. Gary Player claims that at least ten current players on the professional golf tour are taking performance-enhancing (as opposed to sleep-preventing) drugs. The Royal and Ancient apologies for Graham Brown’s speech. Graham was “horrified at learning the impact of some of his remarks,” said R&A chief executive, Peter Dawson. Will he be losing his position on the rules committee to demonstrate that golf at least aspires to find a way out of the dark ages? Have a wild guess. German television pulls coverage of the Tour when Patrick Sinkewitz is shown to have tested positive for testosterone.

Thursday 19 July
The final Harry Potter book goes on sale at midnight and the queues have begun to form. Seven cabinet members, including the home secretary, admit to having tried cannabis but not one – not one! – seems to have derived any pleasure from it whatsoever. After eighteen years, at last a computer programme that can win at draughts, says Dr Jonathan Schaefer, a Canadian expert in artificial intelligence. Graham Brown is sent home from Carnoustie, where he was due to serve as referee “because of media interest in the matter”. Meanwhile, the R&A is reportedly launching a campaign to become an Olympic sport.


Friday 20 July
Harriet Harman confesses to smoking cannabis “once or twice” at university but now only takes “the odd glass of wine”. The war against obesity opens on a new front with news that two Australian engineers unveil a TV that responds to hand signals, removing the need to actually find the remote control, the only exercise that some of us get. Floods continue to create new seaside tourism opportunities for towns across England.

Saturday 21 July
Lewis Hamilton, the fresh-faced, four-wheeled superstar de nos jours, finally puts a foot wrong by shunting his motor at the Nurburgring and ending up in hospital. Unharmed, he returns to the fray but fails to find the podium for the first time. In a rare – and let’s face it, underwhelming – attack of footballing conscience the Premier League announces a £90m ‘solidarity payment’ to the Football League over the next three years.

Sunday 22 July
Chris Rapley, who takes up his post as chief executive of the Science Museum in September, argues that moves to reduce the global birth rate, and hence the global population, would be an effective method of reducing global warming. “I’m not advocating genocide,” he says, to everyone’s relief. Padraig Harrington wins a play-off to win the Open at Carnoustie and launches a nationwide pronounciation crisis.

Monday 23 July
Cabinet minister David Miliband suggests that we should stop assuming that every youngster is a one-person crime wave waiting to happen. Housing minister Yvette Cooper says that half the additional 40,000 homes that the government wants to build each year should be social housing. The Caravan Club goes to the palace, celebrating its centenary with a garden party at Buck House hosted by the Duke of Edinburgh. The Dubai Tower reaches 512m, becoming the world’s highest building and Durham seamer Ottis Gibson becomes the first bowler to take all ten wickets in a championship innings for thirteen years. Publishing house Bloomsbury works out that its latest Harry Potter sold over 2,600,000 copies in the first twenty-four hours of sales, making it the UK’s fastest selling book.

Tuesday 24 July
A UK Film Council report finds that the British film industry contributed £4.3bn to the UK economy in 2006, an increase of 39% on 2004 figures attributed to the tax incentives introduced for film-making in the UK. Normal service resumed at the Tour de France with pre-race favourite Alexandr Vinokourov testing positive and removed from the scene. English Heritage reveals its sixteen “basket cases”, the most important buildings at risk across the country; sheds, stations and pumping stations are among the examples. Gordon Brown suggests the honours system should acknowledge the achievements and contributions of ordinary people volunteering for their communities. Brighton and Hove Albion, that shining jewel of south-coast sporting achievement, get the go-ahead for a new stadium at Falmer, ten years after someone sold the Goldstone Ground.

Wednesday 25 July
Meanwhile, in our ongoing Olympic Price Watch feature, it seems, according to the National Audit Office, that the Department for Work and Pensions lost out last year on £2.5bn as a result of benefit fraud. After twelve months of prevaricating, Downing Street reveals the people who were invited to get their knees under the previous prime minister’s dining table. Those of a delicate sensibility look away now: Fiona Phillips, Richard Madeley and Steve Maclaren were among the many celebs breaking bread with the Reverend Tone. In the interests of perspective, yet more Olympic Price Watch: two aircraft carriers at £3.9bn, out of a defence budget that will rise in 2011 to £36.9bn. Tourism chiefs in Greece may sympathise with their British counterparts but from a different end of the weather spectrum: it’s 45 degrees centigrade in the shade in Athens and forest fires are raging. A new £4m plant is opened in Port Talbot to turn old car tyres into, among other things, artificial sports pitches and Liverpool FC unveils plans for a new £300m, sixty-thousand-seat stadium in Stanley Park. Has anyone noticed that four of the six architectural offerings short-listed for the Stirling Prize are leisure buildings?

Thursday 26 July
The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council suggests that the government might like to extend the scheme that allows art works to be donated to the nation in lieu of taxation, a little initiative that has brought precious objects worth more than £25m into public ownership over the last twelve months. Charles Saumarez Smith has a leaving party at the National Gallery where his five-year reign as man in charge is coming to an end. Children’s minister Beverley Hughes plans an extra £184m of government funding over three years for a network of youth centres. French newspaper Liberation announces “La mort du Tour” after race-leader Michael Rasmussen is sacked by his team for inconsistencies in his “I didn’t do it” story. Work starts on the Olympic stadium with the demolition of a disused print works on the site. Five years to go: anyone worried?

Friday 27 July
The Queen marks her sixtieth wedding anniversary with an exhibition of wedding-related finery which opens at Buckingham Palace today. Ed Balls, whose job title is ‘children’s secretary’, says that every Asbo for a young person represents a failure. Local authorities in Manchester have voted to move forward on a traffic congestion initiative that would see every car entering the city centre as a failure. The proposed £5-a-trip fee won’t bother John Terry, captain of Chelsea and England, should he want to drive to an away game. He’s just about to trouser £135,000 a week for the next five years. Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club announce a £8.2m revamp of Trent Bridge, bringing capacity to 17,200 in the process.

Saturday 28 July
A leaked government report apparently suggests that rising childhood obesity will not be halted until 2050, by which time half of all primary-age boys will be obese. Meanwhile, doctors warn that news of a ‘polypill’ that could reduce blood pressure could take the focus off healthy lifestyles, resulting in no net benefit to health.

Sunday 29 July
Iraq’s victory in the Asia Cup brings a moment’s football-related relief to a nation in post-invasion meltdown. England women’s under-nineteen football team reach the final of the European under-nineteen championship, losing 2-0 to Germany in extra time. A forest ranger in the Canary Islands confesses to starting the fire currently raging through the open spaces of Gran Canaria. It seems his contract was about to expire and he wanted to keep working. Meanwhile, in Rome, the carabinieri arrest two men outside the Colosseum for the crime of kissing in public. Expect a huge swathe of Serie A players to be banged up as soon as the footy season starts. As the Tour de France rolls to a diminished finish in Paris, organisers suggest that national teams, possibly including a British team, could be considered for next year’s start. Franz Beckenbauer suggests that there is only one serious contender to host the 2018 football world cup. He thinks it’s England.

Monday 30 July
A report from Play England suggests that only 20% of children play outside each day in the streets and parks near where they live, compared with 70% a generation ago. A dictionary of Pitmatic, a dialect of the North-east’s miners for the last 150 years, is published. Ingmar Bergman, legendary film-maker, dies at the age of 89. Olympic Price Watch: widening 51 miles of the M6 will cost £2.9bn over the next three years, equating to £897 per inch. Members of The Broon’s cabinet look worried as a medical study suggests that smoking a joint is five times more harmful than a single cigarette. Manchester United say there is plenty of demand for their product despite the apparent disappearance of a waiting list for Old Trafford season tickets; they are now available on general sale to the public. David Millar will ride for Slipstream next year, a new team established with the specific aim of bringing ethical principles to professional cycling. Chapeau et bonne chance!

Tuesday 31 July
The Commons environment, food and rural affairs committee suggests that the government should offer financial incentives to promote freight on Britain’s waterways. They note in passing that the projected 5% cut in funding for British Waterways would be “a disaster”. Scientists in the US find that a combination of drinking coffee and regular exercise can lower the risk of developing skin cancer, which is presumably welcome news to Ken Macintosh MSP, who is proposing a bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban the use of sunbeds by anyone under the age of eighteen. The Earl of March brightens the start of the Glorious Goodwood meeting on his ancestral racecourse by moaning about declining dress standards among the punters. “There’s too many chavs,” he says, fiddling with his cufflinks. The battle against obesity gains a new foe with the arrival of petrol-powered rollerskates but the sale of choccy biccies is down by 17% over the last five years, the result, says Mintel, of increased health awareness. Not to be outdone by Bergman, legendary Italian film-maker Michelangelo Antonioni calls ‘Cut!’ at the age of 94. An England cricket captain finds himself apologising for his team putting jelly beans on the pitch. Shall we just declare an end to professional sport and have done with it?



the world of leisure
July 2007

A Charity4Children report says that hundreds of thousands of children will be wandering about with nothing to do over the summer. “The number of teenagers who go off the rails is a problem for us all,” says Lily Allen, who should surely know of what she speaks.



Tour de France boss Christian Prudhomme is so overcome by the British reaction to the sight of acres of lycra and a bit of watery sunshine that he makes rash promises to return. “It is not possible for us not to return,” he says.




In his inaugural speech as president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Bill Bryson proposes that the whole of the country is turned into a national park. “It’s all lovely and there’s not much of it,” he says.




Gordon Brown puts his tennis serve under scrutiny when he announces plans for a minimum of five hours school sport every week, with an emphasis on competitive sport.




Get the conkers out, says secretary of state for children. Ed Balls, gets stuck into his job with a speech saying children should be encouraged to explore and be adventurous.





Has anyone noticed that four of the six buildings short-listed for the Stirling Prize are leisure buildings?





Olympic Price Watch: widening 51 miles of the M6 will cost £2.9bn over the next three years, equating to £897 per inch

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