Monday 1 August
The big society in action department: more than 2,000 charities are having to cut staff and services as a result of local authorities’ funding crises. Britons spent £988 million at the cinema box office last year (tickets only, so not including the ludicrously expensive pick and mix) but the number of British films being made in the UK fell to 79, a record low. After years of campaigning, work has begun to refurbish the Herne Hill velodrome, thanks in part to a bequest from a local enthusiast. England thrash India in the second Test to come within a hair’s breadth of official world number one status. Encouragingly large crowds gather at Carlisle racecourse for its first race meeting with only female jockeys. A canoeist, 17-year-old Will Carus, is drowned in the Thames during the Richmond marathon canoe race. In Barcelona a 50-year-old man is gored to death during a bull-running festival.

Tuesday 2 August
Tony Parsons is to spend a week as writer in residence at Heathrow airport. The appropriately surnamed Vince Cable reveals that planned changes to the copyright laws will make it legal to copy music from CD to MP3 formats. The Department of Health’s IT programme has to date cost £11 billion and, according to the Commons health committee, has been “unable to demonstrate” any benefits. A £4 million campaign is launched to restore Moat Brae in Dumfries, the house where JM Barrie (James Matthew, since you ask) grew up and was inspired to create Peter Pan; the trust plans to create a national centre for children’s literature. The Sea Cadets are to be sued by the parents of Jonathan Martin, who died after falling from the rigging of a training ship during the Sea Cadets’ 150th anniversary celebration.

Wednesday 3 August
The Great British Beer Festival kicks off in London. Sixty percent of teenagers reckon they are “highly addicted” to their smart phones, according to an Ofcom survey. Radio listening is on the rise after five consecutive years of decline; the BBC accounts for 55% of all listening. Readymoney Cottage in Fowey, former home of author Daphne du Maurier, is up for sale.

Thursday 4 August
The world’s stock markets experience a day of tumbling values and panicking traders; plan C, anyone? Wrest Park in Bedfordshire is opened to the public following extensive restoration to its historic gardens. Last-minute booking for holiday destinations shows a return to favour for some familiar destinations, including Crete and Spain. The website for the government’s new e-petition scheme for parliament (log on, demand the government brings back hanging and parliament debates the motion before doing nothing) crashes on the first day. Meanwhile, former world champion athlete Liz McColgan is to stand trial for assaulting her husband. The Globe theatre in London announces that it is to build a two-storey theatre with a roof to enable winter performances. In Tehran there are multiple arrests after hundreds of people cool off in the summer heat with a water pistol fight. HTC confirms that it will not be renewing its sponsorship of Mark Cavendish’s cycling team for next year.

Friday 5 August
Questions regarding the whereabouts of the cabinet as another burst of financial mania takes hold do not provide comforting answers for the British tourism industry; the PM is in Tuscany, the chancellor is in California and the deputy PM (it’s Nick Clegg) is in France. A report by the Local Government Association and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council suggests that public libraries will require volunteers and community groups if they are to survive. The communities secretary, the never knowingly under-lunched Eric Pickles, wants local authorities to list all their assets to see what could be sold off to raise £35 billion.

Saturday 6 August
Riots in north London after the police shoot Mark Duggan in the street. The local government minister (it’s Bob Neill) reckons that the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), surely by definition two of the most conservative organisations in the country, have been orchestrating a “left-wing” smear campaign against the government’s proposed changes to the planning system; both organisations have rebutted the claims. A report by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health suggests that 30% of local authorities provide sunbeds and other artificial tanning facilities in leisure centres, prompting vocal concerns from health experts.

Sunday 7 August
The Edinburgh festival seems to be awash with Hollywood actors getting all theatrical and still in America Knoedler of New York, one of the world’s leading galleries, is among a number of organisations and individuals caught up in claims of a conspiracy to sell forged works of some of America’s leading 20th-century artists. Back home, after a few short months free of the shrill hyperbolic self-importance of professional football, it’s back with a Football League programme and the erstwhile Charity Shield; more cricket, anyone? In Hyde Park the 2012 Olympic triathlon course gets a testing with part of the world championship series.

Monday 8 August
Rioting is spreading across London and to what the London-centric media might call ‘the provinces’. The Commons home affairs select committee is to hold an enquiry into the “toxic mix” that has led to disorder. It turns out that Ipswich Natural History Museum’s rhino had its horn stolen last month, a reflection of the current value of rhino horn equating to twice the price of gold. In Spain the tradition that family-run businesses close for August seems to have been set aside in an effort to combat financial hardship.

Tuesday 9 August
The prime minister is back from Tuscany to tackle disorder on the streets and even Mayor Boris has shown his face, taking a right telling off in Battersea. Meanwhile the 2012 beach volleyball venue hosts a test event, with the even sun arriving on cue. In New York the exhibition of Alexander McQueen’s work at the Met is the city’s biggest draw and in Paris someone has come up with a 24-hour baguette vending machine.

Wednesday 10 August
The UK’s rarest spider, the ladybird spider, is being released by conservationists in Dorset. There are concerns among some art experts regarding the National Gallery’s decision to reduce the number of warders who watch over the gallery’s individual rooms; two rooms per warder is a threat to the security of the works on display, they say. The Premier League is wondering whether the police might recommend calling off some or all of the season’s opening fixtures.

Thursday 11 August
The fall out from the recent riots continue with the government deciding that it was all the fault of the police. Spurs’ first home game of the season is to be postponed in light of the state of Tottenham High Road. Gautam Gambhir, one of India’s opening batsmen, says rather pointedly, “It’s very easy to be number one in the world: it is very difficult to sustain it.”
In Rome police have arrested a number of centurions who have been found to be extorting money from tourists and in the US the Texas Rangers, a baseball team of some note, are trying to stop the Mexican wave; discouragement includes signs warning “Any children doing the wave will be sold to the circus.” Steve Mullings, a Jamaican sprinter, is reported to have failed a drugs test.

Friday 12 August
There are calls from some MPs – following the prime minister’s lead – that social networking sites should be “shut down” during times of “civil unrest”. Some sports brands are apparently upset by the negative publicity caused by their clothes being seen as the rioters’ threads of choice. Meanwhile, a number of rappers explain that while they might have predicted riots they did not actually cause them. Bristol’s celebrated balloon fiesta starts today and Edinburgh is hoping to tempt the world’s leaders to a cultural forum immediately after the 2012 Games in London. It seems that the Qatari royal family has bought the Olympic Village for £557 million with a view to renting the properties.

Saturday 13 August
Ed Miliband goes to Tottenham, takes his tie off and says that we need to give people a stake in their own society. Nigel Kennedy reckons show-off violinists (ahem) are destroying Bach’s legacy and Harvey Goldsmith says that rock music must take risks to survive. England’s cricket team is now officially number one in the world rankings. The plane trees that line the Canal du Midi, one of the Unesco world heritage sites, are being felled in an attempt to prevent the spread of a fungal disease that is attacking the trees.

Sunday 14 August
Cav wins the Olympic warm-up event, taking the sprint on the Mall amid bright sunshine and big crowds. Disquiet in the cruise industry as complaints about Liverpool dock’s public funding continue. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s charitable foundation is to fund a youth theatre in Inverclyde. In Venice there is a row over a replacement for the Ponte del Accademia; a steel replacement for the wooden structure is upsetting a great many people.

Monday 15 August
David Cameron has considered the facts and pronounced on the solution for Britain’s “slow-motion moral collapse”: more police officers need to receive riot training. Pottermore, JK Rowling’s online resource for Potterphiles, is already generating huge traffic and its not even been launched yet. The Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge is planning an exhibition of treasures from the Hapsburg empire. A campaign has been launched by musicians to convince the Department for Education of the importance of music, a subject that has suffered from being left out of the English baccalaureate. BBC3 will be extending its broadcasting hours to cover the Olympics. The Grand National course at Aintree is to have some of its fences, including Becher’s Brook, made a little easier.

Tuesday 16 August
The London 2012 basketball test event begins with the GB team hoping to show that they can cut it among the big boys and girls. A number of Lib Dem MPs reckon the prime minister’s hard-line reaction to the recent rioting is, to quote just one, “Bonkers, bonkers, bonkers.” A study of 400,000 people over eight years in Taiwan suggests that exercising for just fifteen minutes a day can increase life expectancy by three years. Retail experts reckon that shoppers are trading down in their choice of brands and the Glazers are apparently planning to float Manchester United on the Singapore stock exchange to raise $1 billion.

Wednesday 17 August
Otters are now apparently evident in every county in England. Get your vinyl out: Black Sabbath are said to be in rehearsal with a view to a reunion. It seems that Aldborough, a small village between Harrogate and York, was the site of a huge Roman amphitheatre.

Thursday 18 August
Speculation over who might be entering the Big Brother house of the damned includes the name of the Speaker’s wife, Sally Bercow. Flash floods in many areas of the UK, including Bournemouth where canoeists take to the Lower Gardens. Paralympic cyclist Simon Richardson is seriously injured in Wales when knocked off his bike while training by a hit-and-run driver; his Paralympic career began when he was hit in a similar incident in 2001. In Italy the “minister for simplification”, Roberto Calderoli, is proposing a “solidarity tax” be applied to the nation’s highly paid footballers. Back home, the parliamentary Treasury select committee warns the chancellor (still George Osborne) that the government must wean itself off the private finance initiative, which, they say, offers poor value for money.

Friday 20 August
The centrepiece of the 2012 Olympic Park, the Westfield shopping centre, is opened for press inspection; arrive at Stratford by train and you’ll be obliged to take in its splendour en route to your seat. Karyn McCluskey, who has led an anti-gang community initiative in Glasgow, says it will take ten years to tackle the violence seen during recent riots. Apparently you can find a nasal tanning spray if you look hard enough around tanning salons and our less salubrious gyms but apparently it has serious side-effects. In Spain the start of the football season is to be delayed by a strike by players over unpaid wages. Still in Spain and still on Planet Football Getafe, a Madrid-based club, has urged its supporters to become sperm donors to breed the next generation of fans. In Beijing a friendly basketball match between China and the USA ends, almost inevitably, in a brawl.

Saturday 21 August
A 20-year project undertaken by some 60 scholars to produce a complete collection of the works of Ben Jonson is nearing completion; the result will be a seven-volume collection published by Cambridge University Press. Flight lieutenant John Egging dies after his Red Arrows jet crashes shortly after an air display near Bournemouth.

Sunday 22 August
In the USA crime rates continue to fall significantly – violent crime by 5.5% last year, murder by 4.4% and robbery by 9.2% – continuing a twenty-year trend but a recent poll shows that most Americans think crime is getting worse. The London School of Economics has calculated that cycling is worth £3 billion a year to the British economy. Those involved with running the Edinburgh festival fear that they will be left short of staff next year owing to the demands of the London Olympics. British Cycling’s Chris Sutton wins the second stage of the Vuelta e Espana, one of professional cycling’s three grand tours. Tony Blair comments on the English riots but to be honest we can’t bring ourselves to read it.

Monday 22 August
The Royal Opera House is to sell 1,500 costumes to make space in its warehouse-sized wardrobe. The Ministry of Defence has managed to find £1 billion down the back of its budget to spend on 14 Chinook helicopters. Fans of TS Eliot (can’t remember? Thomas Stearns) are trying to secure world heritage status for East Coker in Somerset, the village that Eliot celebrates in his Four Quarters; apparently its under threat from developers. India manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of a respectable draw by losing their last six wickets for 21 runs to hand England a series whitewash.

Tuesday 23 August
In Notting Hill plans are being laid to put 16,000 police on the streets for this weekend’s carnival and The Travel Bookshop, star of that Richard Curtis film, is only a couple of weeks away from closing down. The government’s widely derided e-petition system [see WoL passim] may yet give rise to a parliamentary debate on the disclosure of documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster; in excess of 110,000 online signatures have been collected to date. Newport, previously famous for Goldie Looking Chain and its velodrome, may be able to add a Roman port to its list of attractions following some recent archaeological sifting. Youth workers in the prime minister’s own leafy Oxfordshire constituency are on strike in protest at the cuts to youth services. In Italy bridges are being covered in padlocks as lovers imitate the romantic gestures of the lead characters in Federico Moccia’s novel, I Want You. In China the ministry of culture has published a list of 100 music tracks that should be removed from Chinese websites and, even further away from home [Check the atlas. Ed], a fire on Richard Branson’s Necker Island has gutted the main residence.

Wednesday 24 August
The winter season at the British Library will include an exhibition of medieval illuminated royal landscapes. Tottenham Hotspur are still arguing the legal toss about the future of the London Olympic stadium and now it seems the mayor has been talking about an £8.5-million sweetener to help the club stay in the area and assist the regeneration of the community. The government has agreed to make public all cabinet papers relating to the Hillsborough disaster. In Germany there is national mourning for Loriot, the nation’s foremost humorist, at the age of 87.

Thursday 25 August
It seems that Alex Ferguson and BBC Sport have come to some agreement, enabling Sir Alex to stand in front of the Corporation’s cameras saying nothing at some length for the foreseeable future. England beat Ireland at cricket, although both teams have Irish captains.

Friday 26 August
A series of papers in The Lancet suggests that almost half of British men will be obese by 2030 and that only an immediate and dramatic change of government policy can prevent a weight-related pandemic. Speaking of government policy, Nick Clegg, still deputy prime minister, says that northern cities in the UK are likely to suffer from the government’s enforced shrinking of the public sector. Still on policy, apparently the government’s plans for a ‘review’ of the tax arrangements for amusement machines will sound the death knell for end-of-pier arcades. Playwright David Hare is awarded his second Pinter prize in acknowledgement of Hare’s works of outstanding literary merit. Michel Platini reckons that the professional game of football is “going pear-shaped” and that action is required “before it’s too late”. And if supporting evidence were required Italy’s Serie A will be delayed by a strike by players who do not want to pay Italy’s mooted solidarity tax, among other things. The IOC has told Doha that they might consider holding a summer Olympics in Qatar in the autumn so a bid is being prepared.

Saturday 27 August
A number of British paralympians warn that a government ‘review’ of the legal aid system will penalise the victims of serious accidents. In Tripoli, with Gaddafi now gone, queues form for the city’s latest tourist attraction, Gaddafi’s luxury palace-cum-compound. The Russians are apparently winning the race to set up a space hotel for unworldly travellers and in the UK a study by Imperial College London has calculated that between 2003 and 2009 £338 million of UK government tax credits were granted to US-produced films that used images to promote smoking. At the athletics world championships Christine Ohuruogo false starts in the first round of the 400m and is instantly out; cue tears of frustration and disbelief. Lee Pearson, multiple Paralympic gold medallist, reckons that disabled athletes should be more frank and open about their disabilities.

Sunday 28 August
The chancellor, Gideon ‘Oiky’ Osborne, tells Britain’s tax cheats that he is out to get them, that they cannot hide from their fiscal obligations to society, which may or may not exist for Tories and certainly will not be paid for by them if it does. Somebody notes that the £8.5 million that Boris wants to give to Spurs to help them, er, stay where they are contrasts sharply with the £2.8 billion personal fortune held in a tax haven by the owner of 82% of Spurs’s shares. The Notting Hill carnival starts with plenty of police and no obvious civil unrest. Where Ohuruogo leads, Usain Bolt follows, blowing out of the 100m final with a false start; just one, note, as decreed by the world governing body. AS Byatt says that her hero is Terry Pratchett for having caused more people to read than anyone else. The Blackpool Tower is to reopen after a £5-million refurb. In Istanbul Drs Bingur Sonmez and Erol Can have revived traditional Islamic music therapy for post-op patients with, they claim, significant results. In Liberia the Monrovian marathon is a marker of recently acquired peaceable circumstances.

Monday 29 August
The Edinburgh fringe festival is reporting record ticket sales despite the world economy and the Scottish weather. The Environment Agency publishes a list of the best river clean-ups, including the Taff in Wales, which used to run black with coal, and the Wandle in London, which was in the 1960s officially a sewer. David Walliams is to swim the length of the Thames to raise money for Sport Relief but he will be starting at Lechlade rather than Tilbury. In China Ai Weiwei publishes an article fiercely critical of the Chinese authorities’ attitudes to civil rights. In Spain British Cycling have two riders in the top three of the Vuelta a Espana after the first week; one is Bradley, in third, and one is Chris Froome, who won the time trial to take the leader’s jersey. Oscar Pistorius becomes the first double amputee to compete in the athletics world championships and a group of German grandees working under the title of Vermogende fur eine Vermogensabgabe (or The Wealthy for a Capital Levy) are calling on the German government to raise taxes on the wealthy. In the UK the Centre for Policy Studies explains that “in the long term taxes on the rich can hit the less well-off most”. And some people are still wondering why there is rioting in the streets.

Tuesday 30 August
The charity Crisis warns that the rise in joblessness could result in a rise in homelessness among the middle class. Meanwhile the Chartered Management Institute has calculated that female business executives will receive parity of pay with their male counterparts in 98 years. A wide-ranging group of organisations, including the RSPB, National Trust and the CPRE, warn that the government’s proposed changes to the planning regulations will be hugely damaging for the environment, the countryside, local democracy and communities. In contrast the community secretary, Eric Pickles, suggests that the new rules will provide a huge opportunity for bowling clubs to take over unused land, lay lawns and expand their greensward empires. In North Armagh it seems there is a museum dedicated to the Irish republican movement but it is highly secret and you can only visit if you are invited via the “republican grapevine”. The MCC is to put its name to a series of property developments across India that will have a cricket ground and appropriate facilities as its focal point. Back home playground enthusiasm for Lego minifigures has sent Lego profits soaring. On Planet Football Manchester City demonstrate how ridiculously deep their financial pockets are by giving a contract to the nation’s most celebrated non-footballer, Owen Hargreaves,.

Wednesday 31 August
At the age of 70 Roger Allsopp becomes the oldest person to swim La Manche, taking 17 hours and 51 minutes. Chapeau, Monsieur! The Venice film festival does its thing, which seems to be providing a dazzling backdrop for George Clooney. In Ipswich the inquest into the death of David White, head of legal services at Suffolk county council, hears that he had felt under huge pressure from the radical reforms driven by the then council chief executive, Andrea Hill, to create a ‘virtual council’ in the image of the prime minister’s big society initiative. Hermès says it cannot keep up with demand for its luxury goods and there is a similar glut of luxury spending in the UK as the football transfer window closes, trapping some money-laden fingers as it is slammed shut. In the peloton British Cycling’s Bradley Wiggins takes the lead in the Vuelta, meaning that there are only several thousand kilometres, numerous mountains and two weeks between him and glory. Allez, mon brave.


the world of leisure
August 2011

Tuesday 30 August:
"A wide-ranging group of organisations, including the RSPB, National Trust and the CPRE, warn that the government’s proposed changes to the planning regulations will be hugely damaging for the environment, the countryside, local democracy and communities. In contrast the community secretary, Eric Pickles, suggests that the new rules will provide a huge opportunity for bowling clubs to take over unused land, lay lawns and expand their greensward empires.."

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