Monday 1 October 2007
Damian Hirst reveals that he likes to do a bit of refurbishment on his sculptures every ten years or so, checking the glass, changing the formaldehyde, that sort of thing. Ned Sherrin, writer, director, performer and producer of the genuinely seminal That Was the Week That Was, dies at the age of 76. Radiohead announce that their next album will be available online and purchasers will be able to pay what they consider the work to be worth. A whole industry quakes. The cost of overnight accommodation in the UK hotel market has risen to such an extent that the Good Hotel Guide has abandoned its budget sector. The national average price for  room is now £200 for two people. Research commissioned by the Bookstart charity finds that school libraries are wasting away unused by pupils and underfunded by head teachers. Suggestions that a ten-mile barrage across the Severn estuary could provide 5% of the UK’s electricity needs starts the debate over the likely environmental impact of the scheme. While the financial world goes into meltdown and Swiss banking giant UBS announces its first losses for nine years with the cutting of 1,500 jobs, Goldman Sachs qualifies for an appearance in the Olympic Price Watch listing with its report of third-quarter profits of $4.26bn. Final planning permission is officially granted for the Olympic Park. “This,” says Lord Coe, “is another major milestone.”

Tuesday 2 October
The Turner Prize retrospective opens at Tate Britain with no sign of leakage from Mother and Child Divided. The city of Florence approaches debating meltdown as the laying of tracks across the Piazza del Duomo for a new tram system is discussed. Reports of Michael Frayn’s retirement are found to have been exaggerated as a new play from the Frayn stable appears on the list of coming attractions at the National Theatre. The Hamilton factor has had an impact on the British grand prix. Ten thousand tickets, twice as many as at this point last year, have been sold for the 2008 race.

Wednesday 3 October
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds publishes a report warning that the Norfolk Broads are under imminent threat of disappearance. Haynes continues the expansion of its range of titles with a workshop manual for the Spitfire; that’s the Battle of Britain aeroplane, rather than Triumph’s rusty roadster. Aardman, Nick Park’s Bristol-based animation company, announces that its next offering will be on the BBC. German construction company Hochtief pulls out of bidding for the 2012 aquatic centre contract, leaving the way clear for Balfour Beatty. Celtic beat Milan but the post-match talk is dominated by the Milan keeper’s delayed and apparently terminal reaction to being touched by a Celtic fan that had come onto the pitch.

Thursday 4 October
A Leonardo da Vinci painting stolen from Drumlanrig Castle in 2003 is recovered by police in Scotland. Wembley Stadium hosts a citizenship ceremony, apparently with all the curtains closed owing to a contractual issue with sponsors. Welcome to Britain.

Friday 5 October
Speculation is rife regarding the latest commission for the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. What could be going on behind the hoardings? Rents for retail space on Bond Street are now more expensive than Fifth Avenue, prompting much celebration among London’s landlords. McDonald’s announces that it will be launching free wireless internet access in all its restaurants (sic). Biomechanic experts report that the secret to Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking accuracy can be found in the movement of his arm. Strange. Belfast’s Crumlin Road jail has proved popular in its first week of opening as a museum and news that Sepp Blatter will be lobbying for a limit on the number of foreign players in club sides prompts Arsene Wenger to suggest that the restriction will “kill the Premier League”. A sporting nation holds its breath. Marion Jones, gold medallist extraordinaire in the Sydney Olympics, admits that she has used drugs. “I want to apologise,” she says, quite a few years too late.

Saturday 6 October
Jason Lewis arrives in London up the Thames after his human-powered journey around the world. It’s taken him thirteen years, two months and twenty-three days. To the surprise of everyone outside the England rugby squad, Australia manage to lose the quarter-final of the rugby world cup. The National Primary Headteachers’ Association condemns an “obscene rush” to academic work for young children; play is the way to learn until the age of six, they suggest. The Museum of Modern Literature in Germany wins the Stirling Prize.

Sunday 7 October
It seems that a large stretch of the reclaimed Essex coastline could be allowed to flood to create a 728 hectare wetland. The RSPB reckon it could cost £12m but that the ecological benefits could be immense. Nine cities in the UK will be part of a Light Nights initiative, which will bring late-night torch-lit art events to city centres as an alternative to the great British tradition of getting lashed up. The Italian government has a telethon to raise €3.5m to restore some of its cash-strapped and crumbling architectural and cultural gems. Lewis Hamilton fails to secure the F1 world championship with a bit of a tyre misunderstanding but James Toseland, another English motor sport wunderkind, secures the world superbike championship.

Monday 8 October
Learning Through Landscapes warns that dull play environments in schools could be adding to the problem of bullying. Six people, including Kieren Fallon, face charges relating to horse race fixing at the Old Bailey. Andris Nelsons, a 28-year-old Latvian, is the new conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Donald Trump arrives in Scotland to pursue his plans to build a golf course on protected sea dunes in Aberdeenshire. With high winds expected, he keeps his hat on. Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, the latest in the Unilever series of Turbine Hall works at Tate Modern, is unveiled. It’s essentially a large crack in the floor. Red faces at the 2012 offices as the canoe slalom venue is found to be severely contaminated. A new venue six miles away but still in the borough of Broxbourne will be put before the IOC.

Tuesday 9 October
The Daycare Trust suggests that many families are paying for childcare that should be free under a government scheme for early years education. Michael Forbes says that he won’t sell his farm to Donald Trump. “He can go back to his own country and bother someone else,” he says, much to The Donald’s chagrin. Day two of Shibboleth and it seems a few people have fallen down it. The Howard League for Penal Reform manages to find that 95% of ten- to fifteen-year-olds have been victims of crime by including being hit or threatened at school in the definition of what constitutes ‘crime’. The DCMS sighs with relief when the Chancellor unveils the pre-budget report. The department will receive an inflation increase, figures described by Sir Christopher Frayling, chair of Arts Council England, as “a very good result”.

Wednesday 10 October
France opens its first museum dedicated to immigration at a time when the subject is very much the topic of political debate de jour across La Manche. A general thumbs up from critics as Radiohead’s new album is released as a pay-what-you-like download. Environment Agency chief executive Lady Young explains to a commons committee that flood defences had not failed this summer but had been overwhelmed; it’s a subtle but important difference, particularly when your £24k annual bonus is at stake. Culture minister Margaret Hodge presents the Better Public Building award to the Dalby Forest visitor centre in North Yorkshire. John Armitt, chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority, admits that the final cost of the Olympic stadium will be £496m, 77% higher than the bid book estimate. The point is, he tells the Greater London Authority, that the bid book prices were 2004 prices and inflation and VAT were not included. Seb Coe ticks off the GLA, describing London’s sporting facilities as cause for “abject shame”.

Thursday 11 October
The annual Frieze Art Fair, London’s biggest contemporary art fair opens. Twenty-two pubs and off-licences are facing fines (up to ten grand) and bans from selling alcohol (up to three months) for repeatedly selling booze to under-age drinkers. A “survey” finds that average pocket money for teenagers is now approaching a grand a year. After forty-odd years on the short list, Doris Lessing is awarded the Nobel prize for literature. Seven- to eleven-year-olds are apparently permanently stressed as a result of school tests and the world’s problems, a survey finds. Meanwhile, English Heritage, supported by an A-team of British historians, pleads with the government to reverse decades of funding cuts, which, they estimate, have cost the heritage sector some £100m. To no one’s surprise a study commissioned by French wine producers finds that British men are drinking less beer and more wine. Strange that. Russian culture minister, Alexander Sokolov, bans a photograph titled Kissing Policemen (An Epoch of Clemency) from an exhibition of contemporary Russian art in Paris. “If this exhibition appears it will bring shame on Russia,” says a clearly highly repressed Comrade Sokolov.

Friday 12 October
Seduced, an exhibition of erotic art, opens at the Barbican in London. Inspector Knacker has popped in and given the official nod. “We’re kosher,” says Barbican artistic director, Graham Sheffield. Sighs of relief at the Arts Council (as it now isn’t) with James Purnell’s announcement of an additional £50m for them by 2011. “This is fantastic news,” said Peter Hewitt, ACE CEO. “the government has acted on the case we have made for the arts.” The Queen unveils the National Armed Forces Memorial in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

Saturday 13 October
England only go and beat France in the semi-final. Blimey. England’s footy team even win a game, along with Scotland. It’s catching.

Sunday 14 October
Obesity will cost the UK £45 billion a year by 2050, according to a government inquiry. Tickets for Ian McKellen as Lear in Los Angeles are going for $1,700 a piece and work begins in Athens to move ancient sculptures 400m from the Acropolis to the new Acropolis museum. Ady Hurrell wins the world conker championship in Ashton, Northamptonshire. Sherwood Forest needs a £50m rescue plan if it is to survive as a recognisable oak forest, says the Forestry Commission. Tickets for McKellen as Lear are now up to $3,500!

Monday 15 October
Secretary of state for families, Ed Balls, tells a healthy kids conference that parents must do more to tackle their children’s obesity and underachievement. School sport, including “embarrassing kit” comes in for some flak from Mr Balls. Venice’s 60,000 residents will get their own water buses from January to separate the locals from the twenty million visitors a year that clog up the vaporetto all day. Warner Music announces that Led Zep’s back catalogue will be available to download in November for the first time. The FA takes out extra insurance for England players facing Russia’s ‘plastic’ pitch.

Tuesday 16 October
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety is recommending a 20mph speed limit for all traffic in residential areas; its report, Beyond 2000, is published today. Anne Enright’s novel, The Gathering, wins the Man Booker prize. Silverstone is to spend £30m to upgrade facilities and South Northants Council estimates that the track is worth around £40m to the local economy, all of which will cut little ice with the ever-elfin Bernie Ecclestone.

Wednesday 17 October
BBC director general Mark Thomas unveils plans to “reshape” the BBC by sacking some 3,000 people. England lose to Russia, making qualification for next year’s European Championship less than likely. No problems with the pitch though. Scotland follow suit and make a balls up of their game as well. A statue of Oliver Tambo, the beacon of the anti-apartheid movement who died in 1993, is unveiled in a park near the house in Muswell Hill in which he and his family lived in exile for thirty years. Asda report sales increases for last weekend of 34% in meat pies, 100% in beer and 57% in champagne.

Thursday 18 October
Umbro’s shares are up 30% after rumours of a Nike takeover bid gain credence. Johnny Marr, former Smiths guitarist and all-round rock legend, is to lecture on the composition and performance of popular music at the University of Salford. After a fourteen-day trial Clare Lyte, one of Britain’s leading tennis coaches, is convicted of molesting a 13-year-old girl while working as a coach at the LTA academy at Loughborough. The exhibition of contenders for the Turner prize opens at the Tate Liverpool in advance of the announcement of the winner on 3 December. Tesco makes much of its use of a barge on the Manchester ship canal to deliver wine in bulk from Liverpool docks to its bottling plant in Manchester; fifty lorry journeys a week will be saved, they say. Eurotunnel also did well out of the rugby world cup; pro forma sales were up by 10% in the third quarter.

Friday 19 October
The Sustainable Cities Index, published by Forum for the Future, puts Brighton and Hove top of the list. And that’s before they’ve got a proper football ground. A joint police and Home Office report suggests that 80% of CCTV cameras are of no real use in crime prevention owing to the low picture quality.

Saturday 20 October
‘Final heartbreak’ say the headlines; absolute miracle to get to the final says anyone who has kept up to speed with England’s performances in the rugby world cup. J K Rowling outs Dumbledore at a Q&A at the Carnegie Hall in New York. The immediate response from an audience of New Yorkers was a pause and then applause. Reaction across the Midwest may be less enthusiastic. The Cutty Sark restoration trust is trying to find £16m to continue the restoration.

Sunday 21 October
Wembley Stadium hosts a charity concert, described as a Muslim Live 8, for Darfur. Camelot will be quizzed by the Charity Commission over their decision to stop funding the Camelot Foundation (see World of Leisure passim). Lewis Hamilton completes the sporting weekend by failing to win the Formula One world championship at his first attempt.

Monday 22 October
A new translation of War and Peace hits the US bookstands. Controversy is focused upon its restricted pagination, its happy ending and the fact that the translator apparently doesn’t speak Russian. Apart from that, it’s fine. An exhibition of Russian art scheduled for the Royal Academy could be in jeopardy in light of the threat of legal claims against the works in lieu of corporate legal claims. The Department of Health publishes a report that shows a widening north-south divide in Britain. A six-month pilot project to give free school meals to all school children begins in Scotland. Meanwhile, in Rome someone has dyed the water of the Trevi fountain red to protest against or in favour of something. The Chinese have had to spend £28m diverting a river eight miles to supply water for the Olympic canoe venue. Whoops. Apparently 120,000 office hours were lost in the run up to the football season as everyone got their fantasy teams sorted online. Cycling’s governing body announces that it will undertake 8,000 competition dope testing and 7,000 out-of-competition tests.

Tuesday 23 October
The short list for the People’s Millions lottery competition, in which projects compete for a £50m grant with the final decision put to public vote, is down to four: Sherwood Forest’s oak revival project; the Black Country canal and caverns network; Sustrans’ Connect2 local pathways network; and the Eden Project’s Edge indoor desert. The decision will be made in December. The sports kit manufacturer Umbro, the Cheadle-based company that is outfitter to the England football team, is to be acquired by Nike for £285m. The FA are, to no one’s surprise, backing the deal. Eurostar carried 3.6% more passengers in the third quarter this year compared to last, thanks largely to the rugby world cup.

Wednesday 24 October
The Pushkin museum in Russia will not be sending any pictures for an exhibition at the Royal Academy unless “the British government provides us with absolute guarantees of their return”. Iran declares the presence of coffee shops within bookshops an illegal mixing of trades, meaning the literary groups and intelligensia will have to find somewhere else to meet. Hotel chain Holiday Inn is to spend around $1bn on revamping its 3,125 premises. Plans for a car-free Olympics are unveiled by the 2012 organising group but it seems the ‘Olympics only’ lanes will be still well used thanks to the 3,500 cars available to transport VIP and members of the ‘Olympic family’. Richard Caborn suggests that the commercial considerations of football should not outweigh good governance. Sepp Blatter is at the same dinner and no doubt nods sagely.

Thursday 25 October
Alp d’Huez is on the route for the 2008 Tour de France and all riders will have to have a ‘biological passport’ if they are to start. The government says it won’t be changing the law on smacking children and a statue of David Lloyd George is unveiled in Parliament Square. Sports retailer Sports Direct loses its only senior non-executive director when Chris Bulmer resigns following disagreements over the company’s corporate governance. The IOC announces that some of the outdoor events at the 2008 Games may have to be delayed if air quality conditions are poor. The DCMS tells Colin Moynihan, chair of the British Olympic Association, that there is plenty of financial transparency with the 2012 project and invites him to wind his neck in.

Friday 26 October
The London Film Festival shows Brick Lane, the filming of which had provoked protests in the East End of London, without obvious incident. British Airways decides to ban surfboards from its plans, prompting outrage from the British Surfing Association. Recent flooding in Madrid has caused problems at the Palau de les Arts, the city’s opera house. Its electrical circuits, air conditioning, rehearsal spaces and one theatre space were damaged in torrential rains and the city is now rowing with the architect, Santiago Calatrava. Betfair, the online bookmaker, is investigating “unusual market moves” around a tennis match at the St Petersburg Open on Wednesday. South African Thabo Mbeki suggests that post-world cup rugby development will focus on the grass roots.




the world of leisure
October 2007

Marion Jones, gold medallist extraordinaire in the Sydney Olympics, admits that she has used drugs. “I want to apologise,” she says, quite a few years too late.


The DCMS sighs with relief when the Chancellor unveils the pre-budget report. The department will receive an inflation increase, figures described by Sir Christopher Frayling, chair of Arts Council England, as “a very good result”.


A joint police and Home Office report suggests that 80% of CCTV cameras are of no real use in crime prevention owing to the low picture quality.


A new translation of War and Peace hits the US bookstands. Controversy is focused upon its restricted pagination, its happy ending and that fact that the translator apparently doesn’t speak Russian. Apart from that, it’s fine.

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