Monday 1 December
Art and Conflict, an exhibition of work created by military servicemen receiving support at Tyrwhitt House in Leatherhead, opens at the Together Our Space gallery in London. Mark Leckey wins the Turner Prize. Chelsea will be financially self-sufficient by 1 July 2009, says the club’s chief executive, Peter Kenyon. UK Sport says it is worried that the Treasury will not be able to honour its commitments to British sport in light of huge public borrowing.

Tuesday 2 December
The manuscript of Kerouac’s On the Road goes on display in Birmingham to mark fifty years since the publication of the novel in the UK; the manuscript is in the form of a continuous roll of paper almost one hundred feet in length. The International Olympic Committee turns down a bid by the European public service broadcasters for the 2014 and 2016 Olympic Games. Beijing gold medallist James DeGale announces a three-year professional deal with promoter Frank Warren and is highly critical of the amateur boxing governing body, claiming they could have persuaded him to stay amateur. Chris Hoy says he would like to represent Scotland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Andy Burnham announces an additional £29 million for British Olympic and Paralympic sport but warns this will be the final funding figure.

Wednesday 3 December
Environment Agency plans to sell off 22 lock-keepers’ cottages are scrapped after a protest from MPs and river users; the agency will retain ownership of 52 lock houses and residences. UK Sport announces its funding packages for Olympic and Paralympic sports, some £304 million in total; with some grants yet to be confirmed, Darius Knight, a member of the table tennis elite programme, says his dreams of winning a gold medal at London 2012 are over if his governing body does not get more money. Cambridge University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology hosts a dedication ceremony to settle a Maori artwork moved from a Portsmouth naval base.

Thursday 4 December
Liza Minnelli returns to the stage in New York after a ten-year absence. Transport secretary Geoff Hoon announces that the decision on Heathrow’s third runway will be delayed. It seems that Southern Housing, which uses private and public money to build affordable homes, is to join the consortium building the 2012 Olympic village, a deal that could bring £300 million into the project. The British Museum announces that it is to invite the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew to create a full-scale Indian garden in its forecourt next summer. Roy Keane will have time to visit the exhibition after he resigns as manager of Sunderland. The England cricket team returns to India to resume their tour.

Friday 5 December
Honda announces that it will be leaving Formula One, citing an inability to continue shovelling cash into Bernie’s furnace. London Zoo’s Bobby, a 25-year-old gorilla, dies. A high tide floods Venice and reignites the controversy over Project Moses, the scheme to build barriers at entrances to the Venice lagoon. Bloomsbury Publishing buys Wisden, the cricketers’ almanac.

Saturday 6 December
The Royal Hampshire County Hospital has spent £500 on umbrellas as part of a ‘walk to work’ initiative. Reports from France suggest that the traditional village café is under threat from shrinking rural populations.

Sunday 7 December
The Royal Academy will mark the five hundredth anniversary of the birth of Andrea Palladio with a full-scale exhibition next year. High dudgeon at the opening night of the season at La Scala as Giuseppe Filianati is replaced in the leading role of Verdi’s Don Carlo by American tenor Stuart Neill. Unrest in Amsterdam as the city council plans a ‘clean up’ of the city’s coffee shops and prostitution.

Monday 8 December
Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson provides 5,000 Guardian readers with a limited edition download of one of his works. “Leisure conglomerate” Whitbread cuts the expansion of its Premier Inn hotel chain by a third to reflect gloomy trading predictions. ITV is spending so much money on football that it can no longer find the cash to cover the Boat Race; 7.6 million people tuned in last year.

Tuesday 9 December
John Milton, one of England’s greatest poets, was born in Cheapside in London 400 years ago today. Former England cricketer Chris Lewis is arrested at Gatwick on suspicion of smuggling cocaine. David Ross, founder of the Carphone Warehouse, stands down from a number of posts, including his role on the 2012 organising committee, following an inquiry into his share dealing. Meanwhile Lord Coe tells the culture select committee that he is inclined to give priority for 2012 tickets to members of sports clubs. David Tennant pulls out of the press night of Hamlet after injuring his back. Blur announce a reunion gig, which sells out in two minutes. Plans to turn the Von Trapp family home in Salzburg into a hotel are scrapped after local protests. According to the DCMS, 78% of UK residents are pleased that London is hosting the Games. Oliver Postgate, creator of Bagpuss, the Clangers and Ivor the Engine, dies at the age of 83.

Wednesday 10 December
Police are pursuing sixteen Spurs fans following racist and homophobic abuse of Portsmouth player, and former Tottenham icon, Sol Campbell. An impressive collection of fine art worth £15 million and which includes works by Turner, Burne Jones and Rossetti has been accepted by the Treasury in lieu of death duties. The British Library is to mark the five hundredth anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII with an exhibition curated by David Starkey. Confusion for television viewers in Italy when the RAI channel cuts any suggestion of homosexual content from the film Brokeback Mountain. Katherine Grainger is installed as a steward of the Henley Royal Regatta while still competing, an honour only previously granted to Messrs Pinsent and Redgrave. Roger Draper signs a new five-year deal with the LTA for a rumoured £400,000 a year.

Thursday 11 December
The BBC unveils proposals under which it would share its digital technology with commercial broadcasters. Oxford University reveals that its under-21 rugby squad is being sent on a diversity course following allegations of racism and anti-semitism among their ranks. A national child measurement programme shows that no progress has been made in tackling childhood obesity since last year; almost one in four children are obese or overweight when they start primary school. Former Velvet Underground stalwart John Cale, who was born in Carmarthenshire, is to represent Wales at the Venice Biennale. LOCOG unveils plans for keeping the traffic moving during London 2012 and the BOA says that funding for Sir Clive Woodward’s elite coaching programme is almost in place. With the banking industry in crisis cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, reveals that there has been a 33% rise in applications for the civil service fast stream; 22,000 people are chasing 500 posts.

Friday 12 December
The pound plunges against the dollar, bringing predictions of a cross-Channel tourism boom. The BBC says that it will not be screening Crufts after some disagreement over what constitutes animal cruelty. Manchester rejects road charging and Innsbruck will host the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in 2012.

Saturday 13 December
Natural England is planning to re-introduce 150 sea eagles to the Fens but is running into objections from landowners and some ornithologists. The Revolution Continues, an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art at the Saatchi Gallery in London sets a new record for visitors to a contemporary art exhibition, some 525,000 people.

Sunday 14 December
Chris Hoy wins the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, beating Lewis Hamilton and Rebecca Adlington by some distance. Liz Forgan is put in the frame as the likely occupant of the chair at the Arts Council, the first of her gender to take the role. Ian Gibson MP suggests the recession would be a good time to introduce a 5% tax on sponsorship and transfer deals in the English Premier League. Yoko Ono opens a retrospective of her work at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. It seems that the gleam of the Guggenheim in Bilbao has been dulled by accusations of financial mismanagement. Arsenal and England striker Kelly Smith is named among the five-person short list for world player of the year.

Monday 15 December
The Melton Mowbray pork pie is to receive regional production protection from the EU next year. A Commons committee report explains that a Department of Transport efficiency drive actually cost £80 million; bad news for the tax payer but a cracking story for Olympic Price Watch. Intrigue in Berlin as an actor suffers a dangerous wound after a prop knife is swapped for a real knife; accident or foul play, asks Das Plod. In Paris life models go on strike for better pay; it seems taking your clothes off in the name of art is not as rewarding as it should be. The world of professional snooker awakes to find claims of match-fixing in its midst. Evander Holyfield says that he has no time for those who think that 46 is too old to be boxing. India stage a 387 fourth-innings run chase to defeat England in Chennai. British Cycling reveals that its membership has now reached 25,000. David Sparks, British Swimming’s very own ‘Mr Swimming’, calls on the international governing body to rule on the use of high-tech suits so that competitors have a level playing field.

Tuesday 16 December
The annual health survey for England suggests that obesity has doubled in the last fourteen years. Liz Forgan announces herself “delighted” with the post of chair of the Arts Council, a position she will assume in February 2009. The National Trust launches an appeal to raise the £4.3 million required to save Seaton Delaval, a grand baroque house near Whitley Bay. Paul Ince is relieved of his duties as manager of Blackburn Rovers. Former cycling world road race champion Johan Museeuw is given a suspended sentence for his role in a 2003 doping case; Museeuw had admitted using EPO is the final year of his career. Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong uses his blog to moan about the number of times he is being dope tested. The World Boxing Council is to investigate Shane Mosley following allegations of drug use in 2003 and the Italian Olympic Committee bans Mirko Deflorian for cocaine use even though the Italian winter sports governing body had cleared him. Vodafone ends its sponsorship of the England cricket team and on Planet Football the Premier League reckons it will buck the economic trend when it negotiates its TV deals in the new year. And it emerges that Sport England has given the FA £24.6 million for grass-roots development. 

Wednesday 17 December
Celebrated theatre director Peter Brook announces his retirement from his post at the Bouffes du Nord, the Paris theatre he has led for the last 34 years. Ructions in the Ashes match between the Australian and England blind cricket teams as the Aussies suggest one of the England players can see a bit too well. Culture secretary Andy Burnham unveils plans to provide free theatre seats to people under the age of 26. Tate Britain is to recreate an exhibition of William Blake’s paintings next year, two hundred years after the original show was savaged by the critics. Rumours that Allen Stanford is planning to go off with his big box of money begin. Meanwhile the chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board has a pop at the BBC for its failure to cough up the £300 million the ECB demanded for rights to televise Test match cricket.

Thursday 18 December
Lockerbie town hall unveils a memorial window in memory of the 270 people killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103. Oakwood Leisure Ltd, which runs the Oakwood theme park in Pembrokeshire, is fined £250,000 following the death of Hayley Williams who fell from one of the rides in 2004. The Audit Commission warns that a recession will bring a wave of social problems with which local authorities will have to deal. The economic crisis is also bringing an upswing in applications to state schools as the private sector feels the squeeze. The Berlin Philharmonic launches the world’s first digital concert hall to broadcast performances live over the web. General Pinochet’s old house in Santiago opens as a museum, bringing both celebration and protest from the good people of Chile. Birmingham City main man David Sullivan criticises the police over the protracted corruption investigation that saw him and Karren Brady arrested some time ago. Barclays suggests that its sponsorship of the Premier League might be about to come to an end.

Friday 19 December
Commander Sue Akers of the Metropolitan police warns that gangs are getting younger and more violent. The Science Museum is to make a bid for a NASA space shuttle and is hoping to raise the £30 million price. Planners approve a property development on the Thames opposite Hampton Court Palace, much to the dismay of Historic Royal Palaces.

Saturday 20 December
Becks arrives in Milan for a two-month loan at Real. Damon Albarn reveals that an Eccles cake played a key role in reuniting him and Graham Coxon, and hence Blur, for some summer gigs. FIFA confirms that hosts for the 2018 and 2022 world cups will be decided at the same time; Sepp Blatter expects England to put in a strong bid.

Sunday 21 December
A Natural England report shows the hen harrier to be in danger of extinction within the UK as a result of illegal eradication by gamekeepers. The Victoria and Albert Museum is in talks to open a V&A outpost in Blackpool.  A local government ‘think tank’ suggest that local authorities should engage the interest of young people by using inspiring street names. 

Monday 22 December
Toyota commits itself to competing in Formula One. The yngling class is to be axed from the Olympic sailing programme by the International Sailing Federation. The International Cycling Union asks the Court of Arbitration for Sport to extend Alexandre Vinokourov’s drugs ban to rule him out of the next Tour de France. Simon Clegg resigns as chief executive of the British Olympic team; Clive Woodward is immediately in the frame. A five-year-old boy drowns in a swimming pool at a hotel near Disneyland Paris.

Tuesday 23 December
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency says that Belfast’s big wheel should not be allowed to remain next to the City Hall; operators suggest that the wheel has become a symbol of the city’s resurgence and should remain. Meanwhile, in Singapore a fire traps 173 people in the world’s tallest observation wheel for six hours; two people are taken to hospital. Galloway Forest Park in Scotland may become Europe’s first official dark sky park if plans outlined by the forest officers come to fruition. China is to have its own answer to Broadway and the West End: a 32-theatre complex in the northern suburbs of Beijing. 

Wednesday 24 December
Harold Pinter, actor, playwright and source of the adjective ‘Pinteresque’, dies at the age of 78.

Thursday 25 December
Noddy Holder lights a cigar and counts his royalties.

Friday 26 December
The Countryside Alliance suggests that hunts now have more than 300,000 supporters and that hunting is thriving since legislation to ban hunting with dogs. Goalkeeper Adam Federici scores in extra time at the correct end to earn Reading a point against Cardiff.

Saturday 27 December
From Harold Pinter’s last interview: “I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God created on earth, certainly greater than sex, although sex isn’t too bad either.” The National Trust says that another summer of bad weather could have a devastating effect on British wildlife. The FA is to release a video aimed at stamping out homophobia within football

Sunday 28 December
Donald Trump announces he is to establish his “official Scottish residence” at Menie House, a listed manor house near his proposed golf resort. With fund-raising for Titian’s Diana and Actaeon thought to be doing well, it seems that a small but significant percentage of works within national art collections are actually on loan from private owners, raising fears that owners will be tempted to sell as the credit crunch gets even crunchier. Stoke City’s footballing predicament is far too evident as its players start fighting with each other instead of the opposition, in this case West Ham. The Detroit Lions become the first NFL team to finish a season with a 0-16 record. Sir Michael Levey, art historian and museum director, dies at the age of 81.

Monday 29 December
A small fracas in Southport sees Stevie ‘Stevie G’ Gerrard nicked for affray. The Christmas number one single sells 311,000 copies – hard copy and downloads – taking Ms Burke’s sales of Hallelujah to 888,000. Plans are afoot to turn London’s Hippodrome into a casino and restaurant complex. The International Cricket Council agrees new testing rules for cricketers, falling into line with the WADA regulations. Droylesden are kicked out of the FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player.

Tuesday 30 December
The government announces plans to teach school pupils how to act as mentors to their peers. England’s Training and Development Agency for Schools reports on a surge of interest in public sector employment, particularly from those fleeing the credit-crunched private sector. Meanwhile National Gallery director, Nicholas Penny, suggests that the economic crisis will mean fewer blockbuster exhibitions as borrowing works from overseas becomes more expensive. And champagne sales in the UK this have dropped by a quarter compared to last year. Those tennis-playing wunderkinds the Murray brothers have signed up with CAA Sports and 19 Entertainments, the sports agents and management companies that serve so many of the high-profiled and highly wealthy in the world of sport and entertainment; the deal is alleged to be worth some £100m.

Wednesday 31 December
And speaking of peers, step forward Sir Chris Hoy, plus gongs for all his Olympian colleagues. New Year resolutions from among the Beijing medallists include “watching more TV” (Christine Ohuruogu and Ed Clancy), “doing my nails” (Victoria Pendleton) and a determination “to moisturise more” (Nicole Cooke). It seems the England cricket authorities are poised to sign a long-term deal with Indian cricket that will include five-Test series and Indian Premier League matches in the UK. VisitBritain says that visits to the UK by overseas residents will have dropped by 3% in 3008 but that the amount spent will have risen by a similar factor to a total of £16.4 billion; visits are likely to fall, they say, in 2009.


the world of leisure
December 2008

Monday 1 December:
UK Sport says it is worried that the Treasury will not be able to honour its commitments to British sport in light of huge public borrowing.




Tuesday 2 December:
Andy Burnham announces an additional £29 million for British Olympic and Paralympic sport but warns this will be the final funding figure.






Friday 5 December:
Honda announces that it will be leaving Formula One, citing an inability to continue shovelling cash into Bernie’s furnace.







Tuesday 9 December:
John Milton, one of England’s greatest poets, was born in Cheapside in London 400 years ago today.







Wednesday 10 December:
Confusion for television viewers in Italy when the RAI channel cuts any suggestion of homosexual content from the film Brokeback Mountain.







Saturday 13 December:
The Revolution Continues, an exhibition of Chinese contemporary art the Saatchi Gallery in London sets a new record for visitors to a contemporary art exhibition, some 525,000 people.










Monday 15 December:
David Sparks, British Swimming’s very own ‘Mr Swimming’, calls on the international governing body to rule on the use of high-tech suits so that competitors have a level playing field, so to speak.









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