Saturday 1 November
The unity of the England cricket team is preserved by their humiliating defeat at the hands of a West Indies XI in the Stanford Series. KP is gracious in defeat, suggesting that his team didn’t need the money anyway. As the economic crunch hits home, Mills and Boon reports a sharp rise in sales of their uniquely romantic approach to literature. The first day of the hunting season sees some 40,000 people taking part in hunts, according the not-disinterested Countryside Alliance. The Oxford Spires Rotary Club has stepped in to save the annual Poohsticks competition and Oxford City Council is the first local authority to be accused of cancelling Christmas by promoting a ‘Winter Light’ festival.

Sunday 2 November
Lewis Hamilton wins the Formula One championship on the last bend at Interlagos, prompting huge celebrations in his home town somewhere in Switzerland. BBC director general Mark Thompson suggests that the days of super-celebrity salaries could be at an end. The press notes that there are now more than one thousand officials and officers employed to work on the London 2012 project. East Ayrshire Council is trialling a scheme that will reward pupils making healthy lifestyle choices in the canteen with ethical reward points for overseas aid schemes. Paula Radcliffe wins the New York marathon and British Cycling wins fourteen out of seventeen golds in the Manchester round of the track world cup; British cyclists won all eight women’s events. Not so good in the rugby league world cup, where England is thrashed 52-4 by Australia.

Monday 3 November
TUI Travel, a cruise company running trips to exotic destinations, cancels plans to have Liverpool as its home port after learning that it would not be able to use the refurbished Pierhead; the company explains that the allure of its allotted berth opposite a Bootle scrapheap has paled. David Starkey throws his weight behind protests against an extensive development opposite Hampton Court Palace and the Scottish Executive grants outline planning permission to Donald “The Donald” Trump for his dune-invading golf course.

Tuesday 4 November
The British Educational Suppliers Association explains that modern school pupils need bigger furniture than their 1960s predecessors to prevent bad backs and other physical ailments. Israeli police solve the 25-year-old case of the theft of antique watches from the LA Mayer Museum for Islamic Art; in a classic case of “the usual suspects” they think it was the now deceased Naaman Diller, a notorious pilferer of the time. Triesman of the FA solves the impasse with the Jamaican Football Federation by postponing payment of the JFF’s £135,000 debt until after the 2010 world cup. Burnham of the DCMS describes the Stanford Comedy of Cricket series as “hollow” while Lord Brailsford of Velodrome reckons he’s got eight months to persuade the IOC to bring sexual equality to the Olympic cycling competition. Meanwhile, over at athletics, Charles van Commenee has taken a fifth of athletes off the UK Athletics funding programme. “Charles is a tough guy,” observers Natasha Danvers, whose annual stipend is safe.

Wednesday 5 November
Jamie Oliver tells a Commons committee that the problem of obesity is all about lack of education rather than poverty or class; his message of ‘education, education, education’ fails to resonate but some MPs appear to have a distant recollection of the phrase. Outside the Palace of Westminster frenzied apiary enthusiasts stage a protest to call for more action on the decline of honey bees. First thing this morning the FA launches an enquiry into allegations of racist abuse by one Mr J Barton of Newcastle but by the afternoon they have decided not to bother.

Thursday 6 November
After his Tuesday all-nighter, Barack Obama is back in the gym first thing in the morning. The Commons public accounts committee criticises the amount of money spent on administration by lottery grant-givers; an example of the Big Lottery Fund spending 3p per pound on admin while the Arts Council spent 35p was offered as bad form. Olympic Price Watch stumbles back into action after a long holiday to note that the cost of the proposed identity card scheme has risen to £326m; surely good value and even more so were it actually to work, a possibility which no one has actually entertained. The Vue cinema chain announces plans for ‘adults-only’ screenings of non-adult films to allow film-goers to avoid the irritation of having to share their personal space with younger film-goers. The chief exec of the Security Industry Authority, the organisation that licenses doormen and bouncers, resigns after his company was found to have been employing unlicensed staff. Cannabis use is apparently dropping among young Britons; look for an accompanying drop in Crunchie bars and the decline of listlessness as a lifestyle choice. Blur could be getting the band back together and Chessington Zoo has been warned that the fences around its lions may not be quite big enough. US author and playwright John Wolfson is to bequeath his collection of Shakespeare folios to the Globe theatre in London when he’s ready to go. Nottingham unveils a statue of Brian Clough in the city centre and English Heritage announces a £330,000 grant for the preservation of Bletchley Park, the famed Station X of the Second World War. Bernie Ecclestone, one of the wealthiest, whitest and, let’s not be coy about it, shortest of men in world sport, decides the persistent racial abuse of Lewis Hamilton by Spanish Formula One fans was nothing more than a joke. “These things are just people expressing themselves,” he says, with no sense of irony. The Olympic Delivery Authority reveals its plans for London’s Olympic park.

Friday 7 November
UN officials are in Bath investigating a planned housing development to see whether it should result in the rescinding of the city’s world heritage site status. Research by Glasgow University finds that in areas with green spaces the gap between the number of deaths among high income earners and the number of deaths among people on low incomes was half that of areas with no open space; the translation is that parks and open spaces are Good Things. The second Cromarty film festival will include the world’s smallest drive-in cinema, which has been constructed aboard the Cromarty Rose ferry and will take two cars. Damon Albarn’s opera, Monkey: Journey to the West, is to include China on its international tour. Tate Britain has lent 112 Turner oils and watercolours for an exhibition in Moscow. Walt Disney reports a 13% drop in year-on-year quarterly earnings and Hornby sees profits drop by a third. Maradona turns up at various Premier League training grounds, where players rush to embrace the self-confessed drug user and notorious cheat as part of a big anti-ethical sporting love-in.

Saturday 8 November
Joe Calzaghe beats Roy Jones Junior at the Garden to take his record to 46 fights undefeated. Rebecca Adlington says she should win the BBC sports personality of the year award rather than Lewis Hamilton. Police have found poisoned baits on estates in Tayside after investigating the deaths of a buzzard and a sea eagle. Bristol is found to be the UK’s most sustainable city.

Sunday 9 November
Press reports suggest that Chelsea are considering a move to Battersea, building a stadium in the shadow of the power station. The new government of the Maldives has anticipated rising sea levels by buying some land to which the population can move when the time comes. The Vendée Globe round the world race starts off the coast of France with some 300,000 spectators to see the solo crews off. Laura Robson wins her first professional tennis tournament in Sunderland, prompting an outbreak of cigars and drinks all round at the LTA. Surely nothing can go wrong?

Monday 10 November
Gloucestershire’s Soudley FC have to cancel their home fixtures following damage to the pitch by wild boar. The Department of Health unveils nine “healthy town” pilots in which £30m will be spent to explore how people’s behaviour can be changed in favour of healthy lifestyles. Mr Arsenal, David Dein, says London football clubs must do something about their ticket prices. South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba dies at the age of 76.

Tuesday 11 November
The QEII is off to be a hotel in Dubai, once it gets off a sandbank off in Southampton Water. Martina Navratilova is going into the celebrity jungle; can Roger Draper be far behind? The paper mill that pumped pollutants into Lake Baikal is finally closed after decades of campaigning by Russian environmentalists. Australian authorities announce a summer-time ban on tourists going across the Simpson Desert; it’s just too hot, too far and too dangerous. Peter Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, says that applying the same drug-testing arrangements to the Premier League that are applied to other sports – saying where you will be for a specified hour each day – would amount to “an invasion of privacy” and would be “a step too far”. He’s paid a million a year, you know.

Wednesday 12 November
A review of higher education suggests the development of “pick-and-mix” degrees to be pursued over a lifetime of study rather than a set course timescale. The V&A unveils plans for a £120 million refurbishment, to include new medieval and renaissance galleries. A virtual reconstruction of ancient Rome is launched online. Yellowstone Club, a Montana ski resort for the super-rich, files for bankruptcy. Ben Ainslie is named World Yachtsman of the Year for the third time.

Thursday 13 November
Amy Pollard files for divorce from her husband, David Pollard, because she claims he is having an online affair in Second Life; or rather his avatar is, with someone else’s avatar, or something. The RCA opens its Secret event, in which the public can buy postcard-sized works by anonymous artists for £40, some of whom prove to be very famous indeed. Brian Mawhinney, chairman of the Football League, says his organisation is “running out of patience” with Sir Trevor Brooking’s approach to football development. Prince Edward is to step into his father’s shoes as president of the CCPR. Dave Brailsford tells the UCI to tell the IOC that there should be more women’s cycling events in the Olympics.

Friday 14 November
The Natural History Museum in London opens a major Darwin exhibition to mark the two hundredth anniversary of his birth next February. Convicted Loyalist killer Michael Stone is found guilty of attempting to murder Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont in 2006; his defence was that he had been armed to the teeth with an axe, three knives, a fake handgun and a bomb as part of a piece of performance art. Mexico City authorities are “improving the quality of life” of its older residents by handing out free Viagra to men over seventy. China’s ministry of culture is to outlaw miming for musical performances; would-be Marcel Marceaux are thought to be safe, for now. Cristiano Ronaldo’s agent suggests that it’s time for contract renegotiations to “mark his performance on the field”; £120,000 a week just isn’t enough for Premier League pouting. Oh, and Prince Charles is sixty. Lovely.

Saturday 15 November
The major cultural issue of our times gains momentum: John Sergeant is still in Strictly Come Dancing. Elsewhere it seems elephants like Elgar, according to Belfast Zoo, and half of the UK’s adults think children pose an increasing danger to society, according to Barnardo’s research. East German artist Gert Hof has been commissioned to recreate the Colossus of Rhodes to stand beside, rather than across, the harbour.

Sunday 16 November
Just when we thought everyone was clear about the dangers of sun tanning it seems that a drug to produce that golden glow is being traded illegally and snapped up by the pale and wan.

Monday 17 November
Gateshead Council has no plans to sell the maquette of the Angel of the North, despite its £1 million price tag acquired on last night’s Antiques Roadshow. Furore in Italian cultural circles as Mario Resca is appointed  by the government’s culture ministry to run the nation’s museums; his qualifications include twelve years working for MacDonald’s. Alan Shearer’s mate says that the island-haired Geordie king over the water would “like the job”. Meanwhile Lance Armstrong says he is concerned that he might be attacked by the crowd during his Tour de France comeback.

Tuesday 18 November
Liverpool FC are to attempt to trademark the Liver bird, much to the annoyance of the city council, which is consulting m’learned friends to stop the city’s symbol falling into the hands of the Yanks. Maradona is in Scotland for an Argentina friendly and is still rattling cages, this time about the 1966 final; let it lie, Madge, let it lie. Speaking of which, Dwain Chambers says that he will not be going to court anymore; his 2012 dream is now dead.

Wednesday 19 November
John Sergeant jumps from the Good Ship Strictly before the electorate have the chance to give him the push. The National Heritage Memorial Fund provides a £10 million grant to the ‘Save the Diana and Actaeon’ fund; Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, says they are half way to the £50 million target. A metal detectorist finds an iron age gold collar in a field in Nottinghamshire; experts are delighted and value the perfectly preserved piece at £350,000. Ornithologists call for a return to “lazy gardening” to give the declining sparrow population some insects to eat. Eri Yoshida is announced as the first woman to play professional baseball in Japan. Thousands of people gather in Macedonia to plant six million trees as part of a mass forestation drive. The Lawn Tennis Association does a new deal with the All England Club in which the governing body will receive 90% of the revenue surplus from Wimbledon and in return sell its 50% share of the company that owns the Wimbledon site. The Wembley Arena may yet be pressed into service as an Olympic venue as part of cost-cutting measures.

Thursday 20 November
As the credit crunch gets even crunchier, some of the artists (are they artists?) working in Damien Hirst’s workshop are told that they are to be made redundant. Bernie’s wife, Slavica Ecclestone, files for divorce and opens up the path towards what could be one of the largest divorce settlements yet seen. Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Madonna untie the knot, leaving Mr M open to carry on making more films. Twenty-seven towns around the country have bid to become university centres under a government initiative. The beavers are coming: seventeen beavers scheduled for release in the Scottish countryside arrive at Heathrow. Physical activity problems in China: teachers and pupils are protesting against government orders that all pupils are to be taken for a run outdoors every day until April (there’s a sliding scale of compulsory distances according to age of pupil). The EU launches Europeana, an online repository of literature, art and culture that will build into a huge repository of knowledge; ten million hits in the first hour cause the inevitable crash. The 2010 Tour will start in Rotterdam, with organisers saying that the city offered continuity with the achievements of London as a venue for the Grand Depart. The rugby league world cup was a financial success, according to the organisers, bringing a profit of £2 million.

Friday 21 November
Tate Britain announces plans for “the sensation of the spring” with an exhibition of Anthony Van Dyck’s works. Just up the road, Sotheby’s displays Turner’s The Temple of Jupiter Panellenius, which will be auctioned in New York in the new year. William Gallas is stood down as Arsenal captain after the publication of his ‘autobiography’ in which he slags off his team mates.

Saturday 22 November
Ricky Hatton wins in Las Vegas with rumours that his inter-fight dietary habits may be under review. Andre Tchaikowsky, the Polish concert pianist and composer who died in 1982, is revealed to be the original owner of the skull being used by David Tennant in the current production of Hamlet at the RSC. Work has started on the Museum of the Mob, that next attraction to add to the understated charm of Las Vegas.

Sunday 23 November
Residents of Auvers-sur-Oise, a village made famous by Pissarro, Cezanne and Van Gogh, launch a campaign against plans to build on the riverbank. Malaysia’s Islamic council issues a fatwa against the practice of yoga; it’s to do with its Hindu roots. Philip Pullman is among a group of authors who have taken up metaphorical arms against a Chesterfield school that is planning to remove its library in favour of online resources.

Monday 24 November
Boris Johnson says that young people should be given greater access to high culture rather than being steered towards contemporary culture. The IOC arrives in London for the Beijing Games debriefing. The great, the good and the wealthy turn up for the opening of the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar, part of the Gulf state’s efforts to establish itself as an international cultural destination. Tim Montgomery admits that he won the 4x400 at the Sydney Olympics after taking testosterone and human growth hormone; although he never tested positive during his career he was banned for two years after the Balco scandal. Modern pentathlon announces that shooting and running will in future be combined into a single leg of the quasi-military multi-sport event. Richey Edwards, one-time guitarist and troubled soul of the Manic Street Preachers who disappeared in 1995, is declared dead.

Tuesday 25 November
Culture secretary Andy Burnham begins the search for a replacement for Andrew Motion for poet laureate; Mr Motion, the first holder of the office not to be buried with the title, will stand down in May. Local authorities are to be given the power to stop licensed premises offering price promotions on alcohol. The Royal Shakespeare Company reports a 50% drop in teachers coming to them to learn how to teach Shakespeare since Sats and their Bard-related content were dropped for 14-year-olds. The sick note, part of the NHS since its inception, is to be replaced by fit notes as part of government plans to reduce the estimated £100 billion a year lost to the economy by sick leave. There’s a bizarre and depressing difference of opinion in evidence to the Commons culture select committee when Simon Warr, chairman of the Lap dancing Association, explains that lap dancing clubs are not intended to provide sexual stimulation while Peter Stringfellow explains that they are “but so is David Beckham in his Calvin Kleins”. There will also be a difference of opinion among clothing retailers: Calvin Klein will be delighted; Emporio Armani, the company that actually employs Mr Beckham at great expense to be photographed in their undercrackers, less so.

Wednesday 26 November
The House of Lords has upheld a challenge by a cyclist who claimed that the police had no right to demand advance notice of the route of the monthly Critical Mass bike ride through the capital. Seven bridges in London over the Thames are given listed status to prevent unsympathetic development. Atlantic Records become the first music label to have digital revenues outstrip physical sales. Terrorist attacks in Mumbai put the England cricket tour in jeopardy. Sheffield United win their case for compensation from West Ham over the Carlos Tevez affair in the high court.

Thursday 27 November
The Rugby Football League becomes the first national governing body of sport to sign up to Stonewall’s anti-homophobia campaign. Graham Norton announces that he is to take to the West End stage in La Cage aux Folles and the BBC says there will be less swearing on their channels. The Royal Academy’s annual report shows that the From Russia exhibition was attended by 400,000 people over its twelve-week run. The British Olympic Association says that it has secured tickets for the immediate families of athletes to watch 2012 events.

Friday 28 November
The Olympic sailing venue at Weymouth is officially opened. Roy Kinnear – sorry, Joe Kinnear – says that he offered Alan Shearer a coaching job at Newcastle but the Blessed Alan turned it down.

Saturday 29 November
Jorn Utzon, the architect who designed the Sydney opera house dies at the age of 90. Police in Bolton unveil plans to give late-night revellers bubble-blowers in an effort to defuse violent situations. Some 92% of architects in a Building Design magazine survey thought that there was still not enough emphasis on design in the Building Schools for the Future initiative. Hilary Lister, a quadriplegic sailor from Faversham in Kent, announces that she plans to circumnavigate the British Isles next year. Christine Ohuruogu is named the British Olympic Association’s athlete of the year. Fergie (the splenetic football manager rather than the minor royal or the American pop star) says he’s not going to retire. China has its first horse-racing meeting with legal gambling. England’s cricketers arrive back at Heathrow following the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Sunday 30 November
Charities are reported to be facing a £2.3 billion hole in their finances as the credit crunch hits donations; among them is the Royal Opera House which has 16% of its income down to charitable giving. It seems that Saddam Hussein’s riverside palace in Basra may yet be restored and turned into a museum. Installation of new stained glass windows, designed by Helen Whitaker, begins at St Mary’s near Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane ground; the originals were taken down during the war and put down a mine for safekeeping but they haven’t been seen since.




the world of leisure
November 2008

Saturday 1 November:
Oxford City Council is the first local authority to be accused of cancelling Christmas by promoting a ‘Winter Light’ festival.







Monday 3 November:
the Scottish Executive grants outline planning permission to Donald “The Donald” Trump for his dune-invading golf course.






Tuesday 4 November:
Burnham of the DCMS describes the Stanford Comedy of Cricket series as “hollow” while Lord Brailsford of Velodrome reckons he’s got eight months to persuade the IOC to bring sexual equality to the Olympic cycling competition.







Tuesday 6 November:
Olympic Price Watch stumbles back into action after a long holiday to note that the cost of the proposed identity card scheme has risen to £326m; surely good value and even more so were it actually to work, a possibility which no one has actually entertained.

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