Thursday 1 November
It seems that the Isle of Wight is planning to become the first island in the world to run entirely on renewable energy. Wave power and waste from cows will play significant roles in this green future. Attempts to turn Sherborne House, the eighteenth century stately home, into an arts centre have foundered after a failed lottery bid so the house is to be sold. Two albums of art works supplied to Hitler and Goering to help them choose works of art looted by Nazi forces after the fall of Paris in 1940 are put on display in Washington. Did any members of the Olympic family shudder as China warned that unauthorised protests will not be tolerated at next year’s Olympics? Let’s hope so. Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe sets the governmental cat among footballing pigeons when he tells a sports industry summit that players’ wages and rising ticket prices are the obscene signals of an unsustainable business model. He singles out John Terry’s wages and Chelsea FC’s spending. Chelsea is quick to point out the minister’s errors: Terry doesn’t earn £150,000 a week, actually; it’s closer to £130,000. Phew! That’s alright then. What’s happening with tennis? Now Martina Hingis announces she failed a drugs test at Wimbledon and will be retiring, although she denies ever taking illegal substances. Gambling, thrown matches, drugs? It’s almost as though tennis is becoming a proper sport.

Friday 2 November
Peterhouse College, Cambridge cuts down on its May ball schedule owing to the impact of organising the ball on academic standards. It will now be held every three years, rather than every two. The Led Zeppelin reunion is delayed after Jimmy Page breaks a finger in rehearsal. Just how hard do you have to spank a plank to break a finger? Former tennis coach Claire Lyte, convicted of sexual activity with a minor last month, is sentenced to two years.

Saturday 3 November
The British Toilet Association unveils a community toilet scheme in which businesses are paid to open their toilets to the public. Apparently Liverpool only has two automatic public toilets in the city. It seems that Tamworth Council has asked that posters for the revue Naked Boys Singing, recently transferred from a successful run in New York, are strategically covered. Joe Calzaghe adds two new belts to his own WBA super-middleweight title and Frankie Gavin becomes Britain’s first world amateur boxing champion at lightweight, prompting claims of a new golden age of British boxing.

Sunday 4 November
Paula Radcliffe returns to the marathon, her first since giving birth, and wins in New York in a time of 2 hours 23 minutes and 9 seconds. Confirming CIWEM’s insistence of the link between art and the environment, the latest Batman film has had to abandon plans to have lead actor Christian Bale emerging from the waters of Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour as the pollution levels are far too high.

Monday 5 November
The Art Fund announces grants of £1m to each of Bristol Museums, the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne and the Birmingham City Museum with the New Art Gallery, Walsall. Hugh Howitt of Blackpool becomes the first landlord to be fined under England’s smoking legislation. Work begins on a new 208m wheel in Beijing. The £47m project will not be open for the 2008 Olympics as a result of “design changes” and, no doubt, the usual project cock-ups. Heads may yet literally roll. Television and film script writers go on strike in the USA over copyright issues. Our pot and kettle department reports that Alex Ferguson says there should be a limit on foreign players and UK Sport is concerned that Clive Woodward’s role with the British Olympic Association could duplicate some of their work. German television shows a report that claims some 140 professional tennis matches could have been fixed since July 2002. Does this mean that the LTA will be reassessing how it spends its money? A few quid in the right places and we could have a Wimbledon champion at last.

Tuesday 6 November
Ever the music industry innovator, the little purple genius that is Prince is to sue fans who include his image and lyrics on their adulatory websites. Rumours that he will be forcing his way into bedrooms and ripping posters off the wall are thought to be unfounded. Police say they will not be looking for anyone else in the strange case of the deceased hen harriers, England’s rarest birds of prey. Rumours that Prince Harry, early front-runner in the suspect stakes given his proximity to the shooting and the smoking gun in his hands, has lost sleep over the incident are thought to be unfounded. The Football League signs an £88m annual deal with Sky and the BBC to screen matches.

Wednesday 7 November
Lord Drayson stands down from his day job as minister for defence and tells his boss that he will be attempting to fulfil his ambition of winning Le Mans. The Olympic Delivery Authority unveils plans for the 2012 Olympic stadium. The HOK design will, they claim, deliver a practical and affordable stadium for the Games at a cost of around £496m. Thomas Schutte’s sculpture, Model for a Hotel, is unveiled on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. It’s original name – Hotel for the Birds – was deemed to be inappropriate given the mayor’s war on pigeons. The Balearic islands are to freeze all building on the most sensitive parts of the coast in an effort to halt the blight of tourism development. Golfer Melissa Reid turns pro and says she would be happy to stay with Clive Woodward, who has been coaching her for the past twelve months, “for the next ten or fifteen years”. What will Lady Woodward have to say? The University of Salford’s centre for the study of gambling has been commissioned by a number of governing bodies and the CCPR to produce a risk assessment of the threat to sport presented by gambling.

Thursday 8 November
Almost four million Britons are bloggers, according to a survey of online habits. But is it art and will the Arts Council be able to claim them in their figures? The UK National Defence Association says that more money should be spent on Britain’s armed forces. They suggest that the annual defence budget of £33bn, just over 2% of GDP, should be increased by more than £10bn to bring it up to 3%, not forgetting the point that some of the nation’s foreign aid budget is being wasted and could be better employed increasing troop numbers from their currently lowly total of around 100,000. According to Old Etonian David Cameron, Manchester is a failing city that only Tory education policies can save. He also suggests that the Co-operative movement represents good old fashioned Tory values. Can he not be helped? The Ronald Reagan presidential library has lost some 80,000 artefacts from its museum. As there was only 100,000 to begin with, this represents a significant failure of curatorial security standards. In some sort of comment on the nation’s culture, hundreds of people queue all day, some overnight, to buy a phone.

Friday 9 November
Glasgow is to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, having beaten Nigerian capital, Abuja, to the coveted prize. Gordon Brown apparently made a few calls in the run up and Alex Salmond is confident that the CWG will be “the greatest sporting event our country has ever seen”. The Academy of Urbanism present awards to Sheffield’s Peace and Winter Gardens, Grainger Town in Newcastle and Buchanan Street in Glasgow; Berlin won the European city of the year award. Sales of Scalextric increased by 30% in the last six months thanks largely to a renewed interest in motorsport led by Lewis Hamilton. Damon Hill explains to the sports minister that Silverstone could still lose the British Grand Prix even if it does spend £30m on upgrades. “There is a very definite trend towards Formula One being regarded as a promotional activity of a national government,” says Damon.

Saturday 10 November
More than 1,700 public employees have been sacked or disciplined for internet or e-mail misuse over the past three years, according to recent research; government departments are among the harshest of employers. A bore hole, wind turbines and hydro-electric power are some of the plans being considered as part of proposals to ‘green’ the Palace of Westminster. Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe urges the FA to show some commitment to its plans to develop and lead the women’s game.

Sunday 11 November
An Italian football supporter is shot dead by police during a confrontation involving Lazio and Juventus fans at a motorway service station in Tuscany. News of the incident sparked a number of riots at games around Italy and the police say that the shooting was “a mistake”.

Monday 12 November
The World Travel Market is in London this week and a handily timed report suggests that ‘debauchery tourism’ is now a recognised travel industry niche and ‘diaspora tourism’ – people travelling to visit their country of origin – is a growth area. A pall of smoke hangs across London as a disused warehouse goes up in flames within the Olympic site. British film is having a pay day following the success of British productions.  £420m was spent on film production in Britain in the first half of 2007; inward investment stood at £324m, the best six-month figure since 2004. A Turner watercolour, The Lake of Lucerne, valued at £2m, has been placed under a temporary export bar until 11 January 2008. Japanese engineers have created ‘melody roads’ by cutting grooves in the tarmac to create a musical resonance within the passing car.

Tuesday 13 November
Croydon announces plans for a radical regeneration plan that will transform the town into an environmental beacon with a thirty-storey ‘sky garden’ at its centre. Architect Will Alsop is to mastermind the plan. Hugh Grant’s grin will be just that much wider today after his Warhol goes under the hammer in New York and fetches just over £11m, a pretty good return considering he is thought to have paid £2m for it a few years ago. Lord Krebs, principal of Jesus College, laments the absence of a continental-style drinking culture in his home town of Oxford, a part of which is apparently known (possibly just to Lord Krebs and his  high table friends) as ‘Vomit Alley’. The outcry about a nation drowning in alcohol doesn’t go as far as posh people so  Majestic is able to announce that sales of fine wines costing £20-plus a bottle have risen 17.5% in quarters two and three this year without condemnation. The FA, the governing body of the national game, says it is powerless to act when a certain Mr Barton (see World of Leisure and numerous investigations passim), now resident in Newcastle, kicks a fellow player straight in the nethers in full view of 50,000 people and a less than thrilled TV audience. In Italy the footballing authorities suspend Serie B and C games for a week after the weekend’s riots, ignoring politicians’ calls for a far more stringent reaction.

Wednesday 14 November
The SNP announces its first spending plans for Scotland and a nation’s cultural sector holds its breath. French digital TV transmitters will go live in November 2011 and could interfere with TV reception in southern Britain, just in time for a fuzzy picture of the Olympics. Further evidence that if the government were serious about addressing the nation’s health they should nationalise Eastenders and Corrie comes with the admission from a Church of England spokesman that the Vicar of Dibley had probably played a significant role in the number of women being ordained; more women than men entered the priesthood in 1996. Leeds City Art Gallery is to auction a Damien Hurst drawing for a pound a ticket to raise funds for charity. The day before the Tutankhamen exhibition opens at Tony’s Millennium Tent Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities reveals it is in a huff because the British Museum won’t give an answer to a request to borrow the Rosetta Stone for the opening of Egypt’s Grand Museum in 2012. The first Eurostar on public service leaves St Pancras for the Continent. Downing Street is now getting involved with the question of foreign players in the domestic football leagues (could somebody please explain that it’s all too late; the game was sold for cash years ago and we’re left with the husk). The public accounts committee quizzes the organisers of the 2012 Olympics to find out why the velopark has been downsized. There’s also the small matter of the estimated £9.3bn the Games are now likely to cost and that includes spending the £2.7bn contingency fund. And speaking of large amounts of money, the LTA seems to be paying Brad Gilbert plenty for nowt as his coaching relationship with Andy Murray is now at an end.

Thursday 15 November
Pinewood Studios announce plans for a £200m expansion of its facilities to encourage film-makers to come to Britain; two thousand residential units are included in the plan. Some relief as a government survey of school pupils aged between ten and fifteen find that 80% of them say they have never taken drugs and 50% want to go to university. After an eleven-year rebuild, a Mark 2 Colossus code-breaking machine is started up at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire; sun spots apparently make its first decoding run for over sixty years a bit difficult. The FA gets stuck in to the culture of illegal payments and vested financial interests in professional football by throwing the book at, er, Luton Town. A report from the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation, titled It’s Time, finds that fewer than 20% of women do sufficient exercise to benefit their health.

Friday 16 November
Shaun Greenhalgh is jailed following having sold art treasures that had actually been knocked up in his garden shed. Bolton Museum had paid him and his parents, who were accomplices, £44,000 for a statue that was said to be over three thousand years old. Picador, an imprint of Pan MacMillan, announces it is to end publication of hardback novels next year. Apparently it’s a “moribund market”.

Saturday 17 November
With the gig scene booming, the Academy Music Group, the UK’s biggest owner of live music venues, announces plans to open three new concert spaces with capacities of over 2,000. Scotland goes out of the Euro 2008 competition following a last-minute goal from Italy, while Israel beating Russia gives England a lifeline. Surely nothing can go wrong now?

Sunday 18 November
St Bartholomew the Great, one of the finest churches in London and one of the very few with surviving Norman architecture, is to become the first functioning parish church to charge visitors an entry fee, so if you want to see where Hugh Grant almost got married in Four Weddings, it’s now four quid. A team at the London Assembly is looking into the possibility of charging a levy on theatre tickets to help refurbish the capital’s theatres. The fall out from Brad Gilbert’s sacking by Jamie Murray continues, with some questioning of the wisdom Mr Draper’s decision to invest £750,000 a year on a coach for a single player. “People in the game are laughing at the LTA,” says “a colleague”. Andy Strangeway invents an alternative to Munro-bagging by announcing that he has spent the night on every one of Scotland’s islands, all 162 of them. Get set, go!

Monday 19 November
The Northern Rock crisis appears on the Olympic Price Watch radar with news of the £22bn of emergency loans made by the Bank of England, which has chosen not to take control of the bank in return for its investment. The British Beer and Pub Association says that fewer than fourteen million pints are being sold a day in the UK, a 49% drop compared to the high point of 1979. Children’s secretary Ed Balls warns that new policies are required to help children make the difficult transition from primary to secondary school. Meanwhile, Transport for London says that the collapse of Metronet and the private finance initiative for the London Underground means that the £150m cooling scheme for the Tube will have to be shelved. Amazon launches an electronic book, called the Kindle, which it confidently expects to replace the paperback. Former home secretary John Reid attends his first meeting as chairman of Celtic FC and is barracked as “a war criminal”.

Tuesday 20 November
A government-funded study finds that circus animals are no worse off than animals kept in other forms of captivity. Four circuses in the UK still use animals. Alfred Brendel, thought by many to be Britain’s finest living pianist, announces he is to retire next year when he will be 77. A group of investors is planning to build a brand new water park, including facilities for scuba diving, white-water rafting and surfing, in (wait for it) Phoenix, Arizona, where the temperature exceeded 110 degrees on thirty days this year. Genius! Camra, the campaign for real ale, points out that yesterday’s British Beer and Pub Association figures do not include the sales from the UK’s 500-plus microbreweries, which are apparently booming.

Wednesday 21 November
That’s it then. England are finally out of Euro 2008. The pitch at Wembley was noticeably poor after it had hosted a game of American football a few weeks ago, but nothing the hosting of a motorsport event next month won’t put right. The Institute of Education lament the fact that the guitar is likely to overtake the violin as the most popular instrument for children to learn. The Cutty Sark Trust says that it will need an additional £9m and a further year to restore the famous clipper after the fire six months ago. Transport secretary Ruth Kelly says that not having a third runway at Heathrow would damage the economy of Britain and outline planning permission is given to Donald Trump’s plans for a golf resort near Aberdeen.

Thursday 22 November
Researchers at Bristol University suggest that children born in the autumn and winter are sportier than those born in warmer seasons. The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford opens its £4m extension with the help of Michael Palin and Cabinet Office minister Ed Milliband suggests that ministers should be coached for their roles. A project based in Abu Dhabi, called Kalima, is to undertake translation and publication of books into Arabic; the UN has identified a lack of foreign translations as a restriction on Arab intellectual life. Having sacked the man it was sure was right for the job, even though he wasn’t first (or second) choice, the FA gets behind its chairman, announces an internal review, takes joint responsibility for the failure and then blames the players. The impact of England’s exit from Euro 2008 is being assessed. Steve McClaren is £2.5m better off but Sports Direct, the noted replica shirt retailer, sees its shares drop by 15%, which equates to £110m of company value, and some estimates reckon a total of £1bn in losses to the economy.

Friday 23 November
The Listed Properties Owners Club wants the regulations on listed building consent to be amended to allow energy-saving additions. New York’s murder rate is likely to be below 500 for the year, a significant cultural achievement considering there were 2,245 murders in 1990. This would give NYC a murder rate of 6.1 per 100,000 people; London has 2.1. Venetian tourism officials predict that by the end of the year a record twenty million people will have visited La Serenissima. Sports minister James Purnell weighs in for the England national team debate: “The test is whether this is a world-class way of running football in this country, and clearly it is not,” he says testily. The IAAF annuls all Marion Jones’s results back to September 2000 and asks for the prize money back.

Saturday 24 November
The Royal College of Art hosts its annual anonymous art fair and a few lucky art aficionados pick up a Hirst, an Emin or perhaps an unknown dauber for £40 a pop.

Sunday 25 November
Manchester hosts a marathon recital of the sonatas of Domenico Scalatti, who wrote 555 such pieces during his life, by the Royal Northern College of Music. There are suggestions in the Sunday papers that the government is about to put renewed emphasis on sports performance at the expense of participation. As the post-McClaren hand-wringing continues, England’s women’s football team beats Spain at the New Meadow, Shrewsbury, to stay top of their qualifying group for their Euro competition. It seems that the Pantheon, one of Paris’s most celebrated landmarks, has had its clock fixed by the Untergunther, a group of cultural guerrillas that had secretly established a workshop for its members to go about their illegal but wholly laudable work. Will it never end? England are now moaning about the draw for the 2010 world cup.

Monday 26 November
An insight to British culture: a beach chalet on Chesil Beach goes on the market for £280,000 and national spending on bacon now tops £1bn a year, thanks to the popularity of ‘premium’ rashers. Nicholas Penny is installed as director of the National Gallery and a municipal art gallery in Catania, Sicily announces a major art theft, including pieces by Rembrandt and Guido Reni among 51 works of art; the only problem is that the theft happened thirteen years ago. The newly emboldened ‘root and branch’ FA are to call Sir Alex Ferguson to account for his abuse of the referee at the weekend.

Tuesday 27 November
Christine Ohuruogu is cleared to run for Great Britain by the British Olympic Association. “Others must learn from my lesson,” she says. The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 announce plans for a service that will enable viewers to download archive programmes. Margaret Hodge tells Parliament that she will consider adding details of the Welsh flag to the Union Flag. The recently deceased Norman Mailer wins the coveted Literary Review Bad Sex Award,  presented for inept descriptions of sex within contemporary literature, while the RAC Foundation calls for government to build a minimum of 372 miles of additional roads each year to cope with growing traffic demand (there’s a clue in the title of the organisation). German telecoms giant T-Mobile announces an immediate end of its long association with professional cycling as a result of the culture of doping in the sport.

Wednesday 28 November
Amy Winehouse cancels her tour to spend, we hope, rather more time with her doctors than her dealers. Harry Redknapp is one of five individuals arrested on suspicion of fraud. “It’s other people involved,” he says. Six artists are named as potential fillers of the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2009; they are Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley, Yinka Shonibare, Jeremy Deller, Anish Kapoor, and Bob and Roberta Smith (aka Patrick Brill). Zara Phillips becomes the first member of the royal family to receive an MBE, this for services to equestrianism. England has dropped from third to nineteenth in the international league of children’s reading abilities. Computer games are replacing books as the focus of children’s leisure time, hence the fall. UK Athletics announces that it is to cut its staff, currently some one hundred individuals, by a third on the same day that figures from the latest Labour Force Survey show one in eight of British workers are working more than 48 hours a week; this rises to one in six in London.

Thursday 29 November
Aberdeen’s infrastructure committee reverses the decision of the Formartine local area committee to approve Donald Trump’s golf resort proposal; the Donald is not happy. The Irish FA ends its ban on games taking place on Sunday. Plans for a boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde canals at Grangemouth in Scotland are unveiled. It seems that it’s going to look like two horses’ heads. It’s Olympic Price Watch time again as the National Audit Office report shows that major Ministry of Defence weapons projects are £3.5bn over budget. Former Midnight Oil frontman, Peter Garrett, is named as environment minister in the new Australian Labor government. Derek Mapp resigns as chairman of Sport England. He says, “Pushed”: DCMS says, “Jumped”.

Friday 30 November
With no trace of irony, Joey Barton announces he is shocked by the viciousness of the Newcastle crowd. The BBC Sports Personality of the Year competition gives its usual bizarre picture of British sport with the shortlist upon which viewers may vote. Christine Ohuruogu and Lewis Hamilton are on the list. Evel Knievel, motorcycle daredevil extraordinaire, dies aged 69.





the world of leisure
November 2007

The outcry about a nation drowning in alcohol doesn’t go as far as posh people so Majestic is able to announce that sales of fine wines costing £20-plus a bottle have risen 17.5% in quarters two and three this year without condemnation


Damon Hill explains to the sports minister that Silverstone could still lose the British Grand Prix even if it does spend £30m on upgrades. “There is a very definite trend towards Formula One being regarded as a promotional activity of a national government,” says Damon.


Almost four million Britons are bloggers, according to a survey of online habits. But is it art? And will the Arts Council be able to claim them in their figures?


Police say they will not be looking for anyone else in the strange case of the deceased hen harriers, England’s rarest birds of prey.

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