Tuesday 1 December
Novelist Cormac McCarthy is to auction the typewriter upon which he has typed an estimated five million words. Cadbury is reported to be preparing to use its heritage as a brand at the heart of British culture to fight off hostile takeover bids. Having endured a troubling few days of marital disquiet, Tiger Woods concedes that he is not in fact perfect, something that the public had gathered from the international news storm that accompanied his “transgressions”; he then follows many other celebrities with no understanding of the concept of either hubris or irony by issuing a press release to ask the press to respect his privacy.

Wednesday 2 December
The five yachties in Iran are released after a not unpleasant few days of detention. After a wasted decade of fawning subservience to News Corporation by New Labour, Peter ‘Lord’ Mandelson deplores Rupert Murdoch’s “iron grip” on the pay-television market. MySpace, another part of the Murdoch empire, launches a music site. BBC4 announces a season to explore love and sexuality in literature. The United Nations launches a campaign to persuade FIFA and the major European football leagues to offer a small percentage of their sponsorship deals to fund education programme for children in poor nations; place your bets on the reaction from Planet Football. England have been seeded for the FIFA world cup in South Africa.

Thursday 3 December
The Museum of Fine Art in Boston is to loan the John Singer Sargent masterpiece The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit to the Prado in Madrid so that it may for the first time hang alongside the picture that inspired it, Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas; the MFA will be opening a gallery in London in November 2010. Public confidence in websites serving the “secondary ticket” market, previously known as touts or scalpers, is growing if growth in the market is anything to go by; Seatwave is reporting a 70% increase in revenues in the third quarter compared with last year. Amélie Mauresmo announces her retirement from professional tennis at the age of 29 with 25 titles, including two ‘grand slam’ titles, under her belt; “I don’t want to train anymore,” she says. The Football League is reported to be ready to declare that the owners of Leeds United are “fit and proper persons” but they will remain anonymous, which will qualify as another example of the football authorities’ unparalleled genius.

Friday 4 December
The draw for the FIFA world cup puts England in one of the easier groups; cue yet more speculation regarding what is now forty “years of hurt”. It seems that the government is preparing a bonfire of the quangos, with one in five set to disappear. Boxer Amir Khan plays the race card, saying he would be much more famous if he were white; his dad says that it is a bit of an odd thing to say. The strike of the Parisian cultural workforce continues, closing the doors of museums and galleries across the city.

Saturday 5 December
Poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, will be offering her take on the twelve days of Christmas for the festivities. Government ministers such as David Lammy are reported to be throwing their support behind the proposal by Demos to develop a form of civic national service for young people, an idea that found favour in the editorial of the second ever issue of The Leisure Review in August 2007 [have a look [ http://www.theleisurereview.co.uk/editorial/editorial02.html ] at the bottom of the comments page. Ed].

Sunday 6 December
KitKats: now officially Fairtrade-certified. There are signs of the credit crunch hitting property development on the Platinum Coast of Barbados; Simon Cowell’s latest house is not ready. A new approach to coaching at Stoke City as manager Tony Pulis and striker James Beattie come to blows over the Christmas party. Amir Khan offers poor value for money by retaining his light-welterweight world title in 76 seconds. Bradley Wiggins says he is now better than Lance Armstrong; The Leisure Review says he’s better than Eddy Merckx as well but Eddy’s well into his sixties by now.

Monday 7 December
Disney World in Florida is to twin itself with a town for the first time; it’s Swindon. Richard Wright wins the Turner Prize; his fresco at Tate Britain will be painted over on 4 January after the end of the Turner show. Shakira, Columbia’s other highly popular export, is speaking at the Oxford Union in her role as an ambassador for Unicef. Two hundred grand is the price in US dollars to take a trip into space with Richard Branson; two fifty if you don’t want to risk having to sit next to him. Dubai World, now described as “the stricken conglomerate”, could be set to sell off some of its assets, including stakes in Cirque du Soleil and the QE2. Wasps receive no sanction following their decision not to play on a muddy pitch at Sale last month. As he nears the end of his tenure as chair of the Football League, Lord Mahwinney reveals that one club chairman called him a communist and that you cannot run a football club if you are losing four or five million pounds a year, two statements that are demonstrably untrue.

Tuesday 8 December
One in four men in the UK aged 25 to 29 now live with their parents, according to the Office for National Statistics. Culture secretary, Ben Bradshaw, has formally supported plans for a Manchester depot for Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House. A new website, Oneplace, which features all local authorities’ inspection scores, goes live. Jockey Mick Kinane retires at the age of fifty. Silverstone reports a rush for tickets for next year’s British grand prix; 6,500 have been sold in 24 hours.


Wednesday 9 December
Alistair Darling’s budget promises spending cuts for the public sector. Sir Simon Rattle’s Berlin Philharmonic will be coming to London for a series of concerts in February 2011; book early. The EU grants the pizza napoletana protection under the traditional speciality guarantee rules. A jazz fan calls the police to a jazz festival in Spain claiming that what he was hearing was not jazz and therefore, according to his doctor, a threat to his health. The Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens opens a six-month exhibition exploring the subject of love and sex in ancient Greece. “The Greeks were anything but prudes,” says museum director, Nicholaos Stampolidis. An expert panel is to recommend to the government that a single unit should be set up to investigate corruption in sport. Hope Powell, coach of the England women’s football team, says she might consider working in the men’s professional game if the right job came along.

Thursday 10 December
The former director of Notts County, who was at the time also director of the club’s supporters’ trust, says that he now regrets handing over the club to Munto, a private corporate concern, along with £170,000 of funds raised by supporters’ donations; sad to report but it’s a bit late now. Months of speculation and much nail biting (in the TLR office anyway) is ended by an announcement that Bradley Wiggins is to join Team Sky. Still on a bike, the IOC accepts the recommendations from cycling’s international governing body to revamp the Olympic programme, balancing the medals for men and women but ditching the individual pursuit, the holders of which both happen to be Brits.

Friday 11 December
Julian Lloyd Weber visits Venzuela to see El Sistema, the state-sponsored music teaching programme that has delivered spectacular results, for himself. Speaking of the English version, schools secretary, Ed Balls, says, “Music can be a powerful agent of social change.” Dave Brailsford expresses his disappointment at UK Sport’s latest funding announcement, which saw British Cycling’s elite funding cut by half a million pounds while £13 million is to go into sports in which Great Britain has little or no history of Olympic participation. Rafael Benitez finally concedes that Liverpool FC’s financial state means that the club’s priority is reducing its debt rather than winning trophies. Tim Dutton’s enquiry in Sport England’s unaudited £20 million funding account concludes that the possibility of improper payments cannot be ruled out but no legal action against those distributing or receiving the funding is to follow.

Saturday 12 December
Tiger Woods says he is to take an indefinite break from all things golfing to focus on sorting out a few domestic issues. Robin Ticciati, 26, makes his debut as the principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Ken Loach is honoured at the European film awards for a lifetime of work in film.

Sunday 13 December
Plans to require 11 million volunteers in schools and nurseries to have Criminal Records Bureau are to be significantly revised in the face of persistent lobbying. The New Economics Foundation publishes a report that explains why hospital cleaners are worth far more to society than bankers. Ryan Giggs is named as the BBC sports personality of the year. Kieran Fallon says that the horseracing industry is rife with drug abuse; the whole of Newmarket is, he suggests, permanently on one. Toby Booth, head coach of London Irish, says, “There is no room in this sport for thuggery”; to the surprise of some, he’s talking about rugby. In a touching display of the true value of the much valued virtues of loyalty and partnership in sport, Tiger Woods’ corporate sponsors rush to drop him.

Monday 14 December
Having dismissed the need for a ban on advertising to children some years ago, the government publishes a report saying that children should be taught to be more media-aware to prevent them falling prey to the machinations of advertisers; answers please to the Department for Children, Schools and Families. Nike says that it will be standing by Tiger Woods during these difficult times. The Louvre hands back five fragments of an ancient wall painting to Egypt after lengthy discussions and an agreement that they were stolen from Luxor in the 1980s.

Tuesday 15 December
Dr Anthony Galea, an American sports injury specialist, is being investigated by the FBI following allegations that he has supplied performance-enhancing drugs to sportsmen and women; it goes without saying that Tiger Woods is one of his former patients. Outcry at the world pie-eating championships in Wigan after pies from somewhere other than Wigan are used in the competition. A rare collection of sexually explicit Gillray caricatures and cartoons are handed to the Victoria and Albert Museum having spent more than a century under lock and key in the Home Office.

Wednesday 16 December
Milton Keynes and Plymouth are on the list of venues should the Football Association manage to persuade FIFA that they should host their world cup competition in England. A shareholders’ revolt at the Punch Taverns annual general meeting votes down the remuneration proposals for its board; the company lost £400 million last year and wrote down the value of its estate by £600 million but the board still felt they should have enhanced pension contributions and big pay-offs. Culture secretary, Ben Bradshaw, says that he would not want to see gold medals at the expense of grassroots participation.

Thursday 17 December
Jonathan Ross is reported to have offered to take a 50% pay cut if his BBC contract is renewed, a move that would leave him scratching around on £3 million a year. In a nod towards the great days of the punk wars, Rage Against the Machine shock the nation by swearing on Radio 5 Live. Sport England publishes the Active People survey, showing a rise in the number of people involved in informal and non-team activities such as cycling and running; the Active Survey project has so far cost £5.5 million for three surveys. An American doctor who has spent five years on the run from US authorities pursuing him on fraud charges is found in a tent on Mont Blanc. Record company Chrysalis reports a boost in sales on the back of its rights to some of the Michael Jackson back catalogue. Tennis player Richard Gasquet has the overturning of a ban for cocaine use upheld in the face of an appeal by the World Anti-doping Authority; he claimed that the cocaine was only in his system because he kissed a woman in a nightclub and she had the drug in her system; and the International Tennis Federation said ‘fair enough’. The Queen gets on a scheduled public train from King’s Cross to Sandringham for her Christmas holidays; her glum expression suggests that she has already entered into the spirit of commuting.

Friday 18 December
Tory MP Philip Davies has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ask whether it is offensive to ‘black up’, even if you are white and impersonating a person of colour. The Arbeit Macht Frei sign at the entrance to Auschwitz has been stolen. Inspector Knacker has now taken to questioning people painting urban landscapes under the provisions of the Terrorism Act. Terry Wogan signs off as presenter of the Radio 2 breakfast show after a thousand years at the helm. A Paris court orders Google to pay a €10,000-a-day fine for digitising books in contravention of copyright laws. Sixteen Tottenham players are to be disciplined following a manager-defying Christmas party in Dublin. Watford FC has avoided administration, apparently. The Duel in the Pool, a Ryder Cup for swimming held in Manchester, has seen five world records and Michael Phelps.

Saturday 19 December
All go for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is now saying that the organisers of the London Olympics are failing to promote equality and diversity as promised in the London bid document. Government plans to ban happy hours and drinks promotions are reported to have been shelved following lobbying from the drinks industry. Chris Hollins wins Strictly Come Dancing. Welsh rugby international Gareth Thomas confirms that he is gay. Mark Hughes is sacked as manager of Manchester City.

Sunday 20 December
Apparently the literary salon, a throw-back to the Enlightenment and the Belle Époque, is making a comeback. The Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, opens up another chapter of the safeguarding debate with revelations of his own family’s experiences of child abuse. Rage Against the Machine keep Simon Cowell’s latest X Factor pop poppet off the top of the Christmas charts. Nairn in Scotland has been named as the second-best up-and-coming destination in the world by Trip Advisor. Laura Dekker, the 14-year-old Dutch sailing prodigy [see World of Leisure passim] has gone missing. It seems that Google has managed to avoid UK tax liabilities totalling £450 million thanks to some clever off-shore accounting. Mark Hughes airs his disgruntlement over his sacking despite the £3 million it will have cost the club to chuck him out; in his first press conference new City boss Roberto Mancini strengthens Hughes’s case for constructive dismissal by revealing that he had been talking to the club’s owners about the job for a month or more. The stolen Auschwitz sign has been recovered, albeit in three separate pieces.

Monday 21 December
This year’s pre-Christmas parental toy panic includes the vain search for Lego products; but you’ve got to get the right ones. Research in the medical journal Archives of Disease in Childhood suggests that even children who are not obese are less fit than previous generations. Wakefield Trinity reveal plans for a new stadium as part of their campaign for a place in the Super League. Sailor Laura Dekker is found safe and well but in the Caribbean rather than Holland. Pete King, co-founder of Ronnie Scott’s, dies at the age of 80.

Tuesday 22 December
A gathering at Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice while South African Freddie Maake claims that as the inventor of the vuvuzela, the soon-to-be ubiquitous terrace trumpet, he should be raking in the royalties. To the surprise of many the US Competition Commission decides that there is no problem with Ticketmaster and Live Nation merging, to create a near-monopoly of the American event ticketing market. Manchester City admit that they were looking for a replacement for Mark Hughes but not in December as suggested; they actually started several months earlier in the summer. Craig Levein is named as manager of the Scottish football team with a clear understanding that he will overhaul the national coaching structure at all levels.

Wednesday 23 December
The Church of England is reported to be drawing up plans to target children as young as two as part of a recruitment drive. The NHS National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse says that the number of teenagers seeking help for alcohol and drug problems is at a record level but that heroin and crack use seems to be falling. The RSPB says that almost 60% of Britain’s rarest birds have increased in number. Michael Schumacher is to be back behind the wheel of a Formula One car next year with the Mercedes, née Brawn, team.

Thursday 24 December
Legendary boxing trainer Terry Lawless dies at the age of 76.

Friday 25 December
The Leisure Review’s World of Leisure takes a Santa-induced break.

Saturday 26 December
Much reaction at airports around the world in response to the attempt on Christmas Day to explode a bomb on a plane flying into the US but across the UK the Boxing Day sales continue to draw the crowds. The BBC is deemed to have ‘won’ the festive TV battle; 10.9 million people, 45.9% of those in front of the TV at the time, watched Eastenders on Christmas Day. Sir Steve Redgrave says that the real measure of the success of the London 2012 legacy will come in the years after the Games. “Everything [about the London Olympics] seems to be very short-term at the moment,” he says. The Caravan Club of Great Britain has calculated that caravanners contributed £400 million to the rural tourism economy in the UK in 2009.

Sunday 27 December
Plans for a new high-speed rail system to minimise internal air travel could include a new central London terminus to cater for those travelling by rail to the capital from the Midlands. Culture minister Margaret Hodge is reported to be planning legislation that will allow the British Library to archive websites, which are increasingly recognised as an important, but ephemeral, publishing medium. Japanese engineer Takuo Toda breaks the world flight record for a hand-folded paper aeroplane: 26.1 seconds. Walt Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, has had his pay package reduced by 58%, estimated by industry observers to be down to $21.6 million.

Monday 28 December
The final edition of Melvyn Bragg’s Southbank Show features the Royal Shakespeare Company. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills issues guidance to parents whose adult offspring are still under the parental roof. Professor Adrian Bejan, a US-based academic, thinks that the golden ratio beloved by artists over the centuries may explain some elements of the evolutionary process. Facebook now has 350 million users (200 million more than at the start of the year) and has reached what has been described as “the verge of profitability”, having raised $716 million from investors in the past five years.

Tuesday 29 December
Stockport College has recruited 20 students to the UK’s first professional darts academy, which combines three days a week of tutoring in the noble art and two days of another subject.

Wednesday 30 December
The storyline in The Archers about the creation of a community shop has seen a soaring number of inquiries to the Plunkett Foundation, an organisation dedicated to just such developments in the ‘real world’. Organisers of the FIFA world cup in South Africa are working hard to find enough bed spaces for visiting supporters; cruise ships are likely to be recruited. Meanwhile, England’s cricketers win a Test match in South Africa to show their footballing compatriots how to do it. Everton FC says that it is to begin fresh talks with Liverpool City Council regarding a new stadium, the latest plans for which were turned down. We’re through the looking glass now: Tony Adams is invited to edit Radio 4’s flagship, the Today programme, and in an extended plug for Adams’s own rehab clinic for wayward footballers, he invites Joey Barton to share his thoughts with the nation. “Most footballers are nobs,” says Barton, showing that not all that time facing his own demons has been wasted. No debts at Stamford Bridge, says Roman, after converting £340 million of loans to equity, which could signal a period of belt-tightening on the Fulham Road. An avalanche on Ben Nevis claims the lives of two climbers.

Thursday 31 December
Down at Broadcasting House PD James follows in Mr Adams’s stud marks as guest editor of Today, calling in the BBC’s director general, Mark Thompson, to put him straight on a few things about the cultural behemoth he heads. The Department of Work and Pensions reckons that the number of centenarians in the UK will reach 22,000 by 2020. Apparently Cardiff now has the largest concentration of media jobs in the UK outside London, something to do with the Doctor Who factor. Chinese authorities have arrested 20 sports officials in a crack down on corruption in football, an area in which China is said to be first class. TLR’s Olympic Watch raises its head from a semi-retired, semi-prone position to note that the UK taxpayer has so far spent £26 billion on bailing out the banking system. Portsmouth FC has not paid its playing staff this month, the third time this has happened this year. AT&T decides that Tiger Woods is not good for its image and dumps him from their ads. OBEs for the mainstays of Status Quo, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt. “I’m not sure we deserve it,” says Rossi, “but fuck it.”



the world of leisure
December 2009

Tuesday 1 December:
Having endured a troubling few days of marital disquiet, Tiger Woods concedes that he is not in fact perfect, something that the public had gathered from the international news storm that accompanied his “transgressions”; he then follows many other celebrities with no understanding of the concept of either hubris or irony by issuing a press release to ask the press to respect his privacy.




Thursday 3 December:
The Football League is reported to be ready to declare that the owners of Leeds United are “fit and proper persons” but they will remain anonymous, which will qualify as another example of the football authorities’ unparalleled genius.





Sunday 5 December:
Government ministers such as David Lammy are reported to be throwing their support behind the proposal by Demos to develop a form of civic national service for young people, an idea that found favour in the editorial of the second ever issue of The Leisure Review in August 2007 [have a look at our prescience. Ed].

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