Tuesday 1 February
Sir Nicholas Serota helps launch the Google Art Project, which offers online digital representations of masterpieces from museums around the world. The man in charge of encouraging everyone to give up their time to volunteer as part of the ‘big society’, Lord Wei, knocks the whole idea into a cocked hat when he announces that he has had to cut back on the hours he gives to the big society job because he doesn’t have enough time to earn a living and see his family; any questions, PM? Radcliffe and Maconie are moving to the afternoon slot on 6 Music with Jo Whiley stepping into their Radio 2 slot.

Wednesday 2 February
Rupert Murdoch launches a newspaper published online (we think he saw it here first). It’s the Institute of Fiscal Studies next: they tell Georgie Osborne to make sure he has a plan B just in case his economic policy of slashing public spending in the teeth of a depression (which isn’t working) doesn’t work. After Lord Wei’s discovery that the big society won’t work Phil Redmond, who helped David ‘Dave’ Cameron launch the whole scheme in Liverpool, says that the big society won’t work because the cuts to local government spending make it impossible. Meanwhile, a long way from Liverpool, at PMQ the prime minister says he will “listen to all the arguments” during the consultation over the sale of public forestry. The Duchess of Cornwall is to be the latest royal to pop into Ambridge to take part in The Archers. The Ashmolean in Oxford is to host a display of Macedonian treasures, many from the burial chamber of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Retailer JJB Sports is thought to be on the verge of running out of cash. Gary Neville announces his retirement from football. And Gavin Henson is to leave Saracens after one appearance to play for Toulouse. And Ian Thorpe is back in training for London 2012.

Thursday 3 February
Two thirds of public sector staff fear for their jobs, according to latest polls. Big society shrinkage shock: now Liverpool, the big society flagship authority, has pulled out saying that the process has been “subsumed by the cuts”. Joan Bakewell uses her maiden speech in the Lords to defend public funding for the arts. The Blue Peter garden is to be reinvented in Salford when the BBC moves much of its production from London. Plans for the Hepworth Wakefield gallery are unveiled; the £35 million gallery will open on 21 May and honour sculptor Barbara Hepworth who was born in Wakefield. A group of English local authorities are preparing to sue FIFA, claiming that the £250,000 they each contributed to England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup was wasted owing to FIFA having already decided on the outcome of the bidding process.

Friday 4 February
Ministers are apparently planning to move the May Day bank holiday to the autumn. Mohammad Amir, Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are to face criminal charges of conspiracy regarding actions in the second Test against England last summer. With Superbowl weekend upon us, in the US it seems highly likely that the next gridiron football season will be subjected to industrial action as a dispute between players’ unions and the team owners rolls on. It may not be strictly relevant but President Hosni Mubarak, currently suffering some difficulties in Egypt regarding his job security, is thought to have a family fortune amounting to some £43 billion; he must have worked very hard at his job.

Saturday 5 February
Authors, celebrities and civilians take part in the Big Shh, a read-in-cum-sit-in to protest against the fate of our local libraries across the country. The Britannia Hotels business has apparently paid £20 million for the Pontin’s brand. Across the Atlantic Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, is enthusiastically glad-handing his compatriots Pastor Maldonado and Jhonattan Vegas, formula one driver and pro golfer respectively, despite his previous disparaging comments on these most bourgeois of sports. In the US it seems that comedian Bill Maher has sent rightwing commentators into apoplexy by suggesting that what makes the NFL (what the Septics refer to as ‘football’) is so successful because it is based on socialist principles.

Sunday 6 February
It seems that an alarming number of British racehorses are sent for slaughter at the end of their competitive lives instead of being sent off to a relaxing retirement on a farm. Lottery funding is bringing high-quality cinema presentations to rural communities. A new cache of correspondence from René Magritte shows his detailed interest in the presentation and marketing of his works. Jonathon Porritt reckons the leading environmental organisations have betrayed the nation by keeping quiet over government plans to sell off the nation’s forests. The FA launches an initiative titled Just Play to encourage people to play the game in any format, even the playground games of their youth; they will then count them in their development statistics. In Japan the national sumo association cancels a tournament following allegations of extensive match fixing; it is the first time a tournament has been cancelled since 1946. Some managers involved with SuperLeague, the women’s professional football competition scheduled to start in April, are complaining that foreign imports are restricting opportunities for home-grown players. Guitarist Gary Moore dies aged 58.

Monday 7 February
Beryl Bainbridge is to be given a posthumous award at the Man Booker prize awards. Concerns at the 2012 athletes’ village site regarding the safety of the current workforce. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies, unkindly christened Paint Never Dries by some critics when it opened, receives seven Olivier nominations. Concerns across the country for the future of tourist information centres. Ministers are politely considering calls for music to be included on the national curriculum of approved subjects. Having been an integral part of the London 2012 bid in which the future of the Olympic stadium was guaranteed, Mike Lee is now part of the Spurs team saying that they should be allowed to knock it down and kick everyone out who is not interested in Premier League football.

Tuesday 8 February
Manchester City Council announces the full impact of its revenue cuts, including libraries, leisure centres and public toilets among the facilities that are to be closed. Housing minister Grant Shapps weighs in to the debate by suggesting that this is an example of a Labour council making a political point with unnecessary cuts to frontline services. The British ski instructor is apparently becoming the snow-bound equivalent of the Polish plumber on French ski slopes since the monopoly of the Ecole du Ski Francais was ended. Gray and Keys, the Stadler and Waldorf of Premier League punditry, are to join radio station TalkSport.

Wednesday 9 February
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper warns of the danger of sex trafficking at the London Olympics. The school Olympics is among the many government projects that are suffering from delays associated with the government’s reforms. It seems that West Ham are likely to be named as preferred bidders for the post-Games London 2012 stadium.

Thursday 10 February
Twitter could be up for sale; estimates run to $10 billion although the company doesn’t yet make a profit. The makers of the Guitar Hero video games says that there will not be any new versions. Culture minister Ed Vaizey says that he will not be intervening in local disputes on behalf of the arts and libraries. The chief executive of Blacks Leisure quits following the failure of takeover talks. Spurs reckon they will take legal action if they cannot take over the Olympic stadium.

Friday 11 February
A group of local authorities win their case against the education secretary Michael Gove’s cancellation without consultation of the Building Schools for the Future programme. It’s official: West Ham and Newham are the preferred bidders for the Olympic stadium; Spurs and Leyton Orient are considering a legal challenge while athletes and athletics spokespeople urge West Ham to keep its promise on retaining the track for the long term. Martin Amis says that only brain injury could induce him to write for children. The King’s Speech looks set to sweep all before it, all cold comfort for the UK Film Council which helped fund it and is due to be closed on 1 April as part of the quango cull. Leaked memoranda from VisitBritain suggests that royal weddings have not traditionally brought more overseas visitors, in fact quite the opposite. An apparent partial U-turn on the sale of forests as 15% of England’s public forests are taken off the market until the fate of the rest of the Forestry Commission’s land has been decided. JJB Sports is to close 95 of its retail outlets as it fights to stave off bankruptcy. The World Anti-doping Agency says that it is to refocus its attentions on police work to catch drugs cheats, rather than only testing athletes. Yorkshire County Cricket Club will not be bidding to host an Ashes Test in 2013 or 2015 because they cannot afford to put their hat in the proverbial ring.

Saturday 12 February
London Fashion Week is upon us and Erin O’Connor launches a campaign to stop the practice of airbrushing fashion images. Across La Manche in Paris, where it’s fashion week every day, Christian Lacroix, founder of the fashion house that went bust in 2009, is trying his hand at museum curating, directing a show at the Musée du quai Branly. Back home, two horses are electrocuted in the parade ring at Newbury racecourse. PJ Harvey may well become the first musician to be appointed as a war artist.

Sunday 13 February
The prime minister (yep, still Dave Cameron) goes on the offensive in the defence of the big society idea, offering £100 million “transition funding” to charities and outlining plans for a “big society bank”. The BBC Trust reckons that Radio 4 should try to appeal to a wider and younger audience, presumably unaware that they also offer Radio 1. A damaged electricity cable is thought to have been responsible for the incident at Newbury racecourse.

Monday 14 February
The NSPCC reckon that almost one in five secondary school children have been “severely abused or neglected” during childhood. Dave Brailsford reveals that it is increasingly difficult to find anyone involved with the management and coaching of professional road cycling that has not been at least associated with teams involved with doping. Meanwhile, it seems likely that Alberto Contador will have a one-year ban overturned by the notoriously indulgent Spanish Cycling Federation. Ronaldo, one-time Brazilian football legend, announces his retirement at the age of 34. Sir George Shearing, the London-born jazz pianist, dies in New York aged 91.

Tuesday 15 February
Prices for London 2012 tickets are announced. Protests against government spending cuts include some people sending their OBEs back. Take That are named best band at the Brits. The north-south health divide in the UK is the widest since 1965, says a study in the British Medical Journal. The Harp on Chandos Place in London is named CAMRA pub of the year. The chairman of the Football League, Greg Clarke, says that the organisation is heading for a precipice of unsustainable debt. No surprise as Alberto Contador has his drugs ban reversed. UK Athletics admits it will be almost impossible to fill the Olympic stadium for athletics meets after the Olympics.

Wednesday 16 February
The government “terminates” its consultation on the sale of a quarter of a million hectares of state-owned forestry. Health experts involved with the government’s alcohol control policy are to walk away in response to the influence of the drinks industry on the process. The Duchess of Cornwall is on The Archers. A total of one million young people aged 16 to 24 will be out of work soon. Radio 3 is once again to broadcast live music. Communities secretary Eric Pickles admits he got his facts wrong when condemning a 78% rise in local authority chief executives’ pay; he was looking at the figures for chief execs of FTSE 250 bosses. Lance Armstrong is to retire again.

Thursday 17 February
Pity President and Mrs Obama: they are to spend three nights at Buckingham Palace in April. A study of ME finds that exercise is a significant contributory factor in treating the illness. Seven children’s writers are in the top ten of the most borrowed authors from UK libraries last year. Banksy’s film is nominated for the Oscars and he’s taking time out to do some work in LA. Belgium has now had no government for 250 days but they seem to be thriving. The Greek prime minister denies that his government is planning to privatise Greek national treasures to balance the books.

Friday 18 February
We’re all in this together department: Barclays paid corporation tax in 2009 equivalent to 1% of its £11.6 billion profits. The Mears brothers are found guilty of deception following their more than disappointing Christmas Lapland theme park in the New Forest. Margate has the highest proportion of empty shops in the country but is pinning its hopes on culture for its future: the Turner Contemporary gallery is scheduled to open in March. Simon Rattle is in town for concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic. Kim Gavin, the man behind the Take That Circus tour, is appointed artistic director for the London 2012 closing ceremony. In India the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, one of the cricket world cup venues, fails its fire safety test. In Manchester the latest round of the track cycling world cup sees Jason Kenny beat Sir Chris Hoy in the sprint semi-final. As the streets of Bahrain fill with protestors and bloodshed, Bernie Ecclestone is confident that the Formula One grand prix is still scheduled to take place in a few weeks.

Saturday 19 February
In Birmingham Mo Farah sets a new European record in the indoor 5,000m and gives the credit to his coach, Alberto Salazar; Farah is to relocate his family to Oregon to be coached by Salazar full time. In Manchester Malaysia’s Azizulhasni Awang redefines the phrase “a nasty splinter” with a piece of the velodrome track sticking out of both sides of his calf after a crash in the keirin.

Sunday 20 February
Campaigners say ancient woodlands are still under threat from new planning rules. David Cameron announces plans to open all public services to private sector competition, ending what he terms “a state monopoly”. Oliver Letwin admits that the government’s ‘nudge unit’, funded to the tune of half a million quid, may well not work. The Church of England is to receive £5 million government funding to promote community cohesion. In Jerusalem novelist Ian McEwan picks up a book award and uses his acceptance speech to criticise Israel’s attitudes and actions in Palestine.

Monday 21 February
Staff at the Grant museum, part of the University College London, have discovered the bones of half a dodo while moving the 70,000 items in the collection to new premises; they seem to have been mislabelled among crocodile bones. The Ministry of Defence has wasted £8 billion on delayed or cancelled projects, according to the Commons defence committee. Bunhill Fields, a London cemetery founded for nonconformists, is to be declared a Grade I listed park. Bahrain cancels its grand prix, saving Bernie the trouble of trying to justify a car race in a war zone (although he would have been happy to do it). Plymouth Argyle FC announce they will be appointing administrators, prompting a 10-point penalty.

Tuesday 22 February
The Olympic velodrome is unveiled as the first venue to be completed in the Olympic Park. Adele is the first recording artist since the Beatles to have two top-five records in the UK singles and album charts at the same time. The New York Met is to stage an exhibition of the work of fashion designer Alexander McQueen later this year. Save the Children say that 1.6 million young people live in severe poverty in the UK, a situation that is “a national disgrace”.  Many stately homes are reporting rising visitor numbers on the back of film and television dramas.

Wednesday 23 February
The government is planning to allow a number of local authorities to retain the finance raised from business rates. John le Carré is to give his archive, which comprises 85 storage boxes, to the Bodleian library in Oxford. The Youth Hostel Association is being accused of “selling off the family silver” with plans to sell off some of its buildings.

Thursday 24 February
Sir Paul McCartney is planning to write a ballet (three words: the Frog Chorus). Barry Hearn is threatening to “sue everyone” if Leyton Orient, who are not going to be the tenants of the London Olympic stadium, are not helped to build a new ground.

Friday 25 February
The Ministry of Defence is to sell off the British Forces Broadcasting Service. In Madrid there is a family-based, art-oriented spat at a collection hanging in the Thysen-Bornemisza Museum; the widow of the museum’s eponymous collector wants to sell some of the works that are currently on display, a move condemned by her stepdaughter.

Saturday 26 February
A new social research project, Understanding Society, commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council, is published offering what is claimed to be the most comprehensive investigation into the life of the nation ever undertaken. Experts at King’s College London reckon that the “pornification” of modern culture is driving requests for cosmetic surgery. England beat France in the Six Nations, with Jonny Wilkinson becoming the most prolific scorer of international points in the process (again).

Sunday 27 February
The Ministry of Sound is marking it 20th anniversary with a photographic exhibition of its glory days. Birmingham City win the League Cup, their first major trophy since the 1960s. England’s cricketers tie a world cup game with India with a score of 338. The King’s Speech wins four Oscars, including best film.

Monday 28 February
The government outlines plans for a high-speed train route through the home counties between London and Birmingham. Surrey and England wicketkeeper Steven Davies reveals he is gay to general acclaim and support across the cricketing and wider sporting world. Meanwhile on Planet Football, it seems that Ashley Cole managed to shoot a sports science student with a high-calibre air rifle while “larking around” at the Chelsea training ground.



the world of leisure
February 2011

Thursday 3 February:
A group of English local authorities are preparing to sue FIFA, claiming that the £250,000 they each contributed to England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup was wasted owing to FIFA having already decided on the outcome of the bidding process.



Saturday 5 February:
Comedian Bill Maher has sent rightwing commentators into apoplexy by suggesting that what makes the NFL (what the Septics refer to as ‘football’) is so successful because it is based on socialist principles.

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