Saturday 1 January
Theatre “colossus” Peter Brook ends his 36-year tenure as director of the Bouffes du Nord theatre in Paris; he’s now 85. Roman Abramovich is funding a British tour by the Moscow theatre company Sovremenik; there will be Chekov. Experts from the Courtauld Institute are travelling to Bhutan to help with restoration of centuries-old paintings within the country’s temples and monasteries.

Sunday 2 January
The Office for Budget Responsibility says that the government’s austerity drive is going to adversely affect attempts to reduce the national deficit. Housing minister Grant Shapps asks Liverpool city council to delay knocking down the house in which Ringo Starr (as he then wasn’t) was born. The post of Scotland’s poet laureate is still to be filled three months after Edwin Morgan, the first and last (last as in previous) holder of the post, stood down. Gilbert and George will be unveiling new works this month at the White Cube gallery in London before the works go on a world tour. Will the Bikeability scheme, which provides cycle training for children, survive the disappearance of Cycling England in the vainglorious bonfire of the quangos? A 98% approval rating among parents and children suggests it may yet have a future. Spain introduces stringent anti-smoking regulations in public places. The Little Baron notes that West Ham’s plans for London’s Olympic stadium include a running track and that Tottenham’s do not.

Monday 3 January
Protests in the Forest of Dean against the selling off – some say privatisation – of all Forestry Commission land in England, currently a policy of the current Conservative-led government. Actor Pete Postlethwaite dies aged 64.

Tuesday 4 January
In London it seems big musicals are bucking the recessionary trend; The Lion King, for example, is breaking box office records, taking more than £34 million during 2010. The government is going to scrap the regulations that dictate the size of measures of alcohol sold in pubs; here comes the schooner to complicate rounds yet further. Disgruntlement in Rome among hoteliers, who now have to charge customers €3 a night bed tax. In Los Angeles MySpace is planning to cut half its 1,100 workforce as it deals with the competition from Facebook.

Wednesday 5 January
After two days of evenly matched Test cricket, England take charge of the fifth Test in Sydney. A Warhol owned and refined by the late Dennis Hopper (he used a gun to add the  personal touch to the work) goes on sale in New York. China and India are set to join the Venice Biennale. The new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is to have racist epithets (essentially the N word and ‘injun’) expunged. HMV is planning to shut 60 of its UK stores. Sepp Blatter sets up a FIFA taskforce to explore improvements to the game of football, including, he suggests, more than three points for a win and an end to drawn games.

Thursday 6 January
The Commons public administration select committee says that the bonfire of the quangos has been a cock up, poorly managed and costing more than it will save. The Olympic Park Legacy Company reckons there will be one million visitors a year to the Anish Kapoor tower on site. The proposed high-speed rail link will have two million trees to combat noise pollution. The Procession of Calvary by Bruegel the Younger will be staying at Nostell Priory after funds are raised to save it from sale abroad. Sport England unveils plans to get more women playing sport, including netball, street games and cycling. The Rugby Football Union unveils a new structure for the organisation; Rob Andrew’s period in sole charge of elite performance is likely to come to an end. Cuba is to reopen to cruise liners, having pinned its hopes of economic recovery largely on tourism income. Former British heavyweight boxing champion Gary Mason is killed in a cycling accident aged 48.

Friday 7 January
Blimey: England have actually won the Ashes in Australia. Shameless, the television tale of Mancunian penury, is to be adapted for the US. The English National Opera is to broadcast opera live and in 3D. It is estimated that 800 libraries – one fifth of the total – are to be closed as local authorities attempt to make ends meet; and, as Ed Vaizey said before he got into government, the closure of libraries “is outrageous and offensive to everyone who ever cared about books and reading”. Zoe Smith, 16-year-old Commonwealth Games weightlifting medallist, has had her funding cut for being overweight.

Saturday 8 January
Withdrawal of the £38 million annual funding for Creative Partnerships, a scheme that improves the teaching of arts in schools, draws protests from many, including Sir Ian McKellen, who was able to point to the PwC research that shows every pound invested in the scheme generated 15 in economic benefits. The England and Wales Cricket Board is looking forward to a post-Ashes cash bonanza this summer from ticket sales and sponsorship. The British Medical Association reckons that art classes and leisure activities in hospitals would speed patients’ recovery. Having reached the age of 70, Barry Dennis, one of the last of the great showmen on the rails and perhaps Britain’s best-known bookie, is to retire; his son Patrick will be taking over the business if not the high-profile approach.

Sunday 9 January
“We’re all in this together” update: good to see the chancellor of the exchequer enjoying his leisure during his holiday to Kloisters. Researchers at McGill University in Canada suggest that music produces the same feelings of euphoria produced by food or drugs. In Spain the state broadcaster, TVE, is to stop showing bullfighting, prompting protests among those for whom killing animals in public is an intrinsic part of Spanish culture. Scotland is exploring the possibility of hosting the grand départ of the Tour de France.

Monday 10 January
“We’re all in this together” update encore: after all the bluster and manifesto promises there are to be no restrictions on the banking sector. MusicWeek magazine has studied the best-selling singles of 2010 and decided that rock and roll is dead. Edinburgh Zoo is to receive a giant panda from China. Rumours that the remake of film The Great Gatsby might be in 3-D provokes eye-rolling among cineastes. The FA’s new sponsor, Vauxhall (the motor manufacturer rather than the bridge), is keen to revive the home international tournament, last played in 1984 (Northern Ireland are the current holders).

Tuesday 11 January
The Institute of Contemporary Arts appoints Gregor Muir, a respected and highly credentialled gallerist, as its new executive director. In Spain City of Culture opens in Santiago de Compostela amid criticism that the €400 million cultural centre is not sustainable culturally or financially. Figures from UEFA show that more than half the football clubs in Europe’s top division are running at a loss. Stuart Pearce could be the coach to take the British football team into the London Olympics.

Wednesday 12 January
The World Economic Forum in Davos is to make sure that there are some women among the delegates as part of their “gender parity programme”. VisitBritain research into the preferences of potential visitors to the UK sees visiting Welsh castles at the top of the list. The Queen’s diamond jubilee will be marked by a touring exhibition of portrait photography; it will open in June in Edinburgh. The manufacture of Jammie Dodgers on the Wirral is to come to an end following a decision by Burton’s Foods to close its Moreton biscuit factory. Tottenham’s plan for the London Olympic stadium is to knock it down.

Thursday 13 January
Ten large-scale bronzes arrive in London near parliament, the work of Mexican artist Rivelino, part of a European tour commemorating Mexican independence. Plans for a “super sewer” across London are drawing protests from residents who will see their parks used as works sites until 2021. Two thousand jobs to go at Manchester City Council and councils say the poorest will be the hardest hit by cuts. Coming of Age, an exhibition of works by artists such as Renoir and Degas in their later years, opens in Newcastle as part of an ageing and health campaign. The TUC reckons that selling off Forestry Commission land could result in millions of pounds being lost in tax revenue. Even the Tote, the state-run bookmaker, avoids tax by using off-shore business ruses. Tottenham MP David Lammy, says that Spurs should be forced to drop ‘Tottenham’ from the club’s name if it moves to the Olympic stadium; West Ham’s bid for the stadium, working with Newham council, will keep the running track.

Friday 14 January
Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, writes that moving the 2012 Olympic marathon from the streets of the Olympic borough, as was originally promised, removes the last vestiges of connection between residents and the London Games. Mayor Boris cannot help sniggering as he reveals that there is going to be a huge blue cock on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, the work of artist Katharina Fritsch. Creative Scotland, the Scottish government’s arts agency, is to fund up to 1,000 Highland retreat residencies for artists creating new work.

Saturday 15 January
Tate Modern’s record-breaking Gauguin exhibition has drawn criticism for the crowded galleries that visitors were obliged to endure. Warnings that a deadly virus affecting oaks and other trees in Britain’s forests could have a devastating impact. It seems that Berlin’s Mitte district, the traditional haunt of artists and bohemians, is being eaten up by monied professionals moving in. Footballing legend Nat Lofthouse dies aged 85.

Sunday 16 January
The music industry is to release singles and albums for sale and for radio play at the same time in an effort to beat piracy. If hundreds of thousands of pounds a week were not enough, it appears that many of the UK’s top footballers are exploiting tax loopholes on image rights to avoid taxes totalling some £100 million a year. The manager of Northern Ireland’s women’s football team, Alfie Wylie, calls for a “cost-effective” home international tournament for women’s sides to be instigated. Italian film director Marco Bellocchio has had funding for his Berslusconi-based satire withdrawn, a result, he claims, of state censorship.

Monday 17 January
Numerous MPs, among them Tory former health secretary, warns against the government’s rushed and high-risk reform of the NHS. Ricky Gervais’s hosting of the Golden Globes awards illustrates that the nuances of British culture are often a mystery to many. A new ‘official’ Sherlock Holmes novel is to be written by Anthony Horowitz with the blessing of the Conan Doyle estate. Tottenham’s bid for the Olympic stadium includes a multi-million refurbishment of the Crystal Palace athletics facilities to compensate for getting rid of the 2012 track; and the stadium; and any link with the local community; and any of the original London 2012 bid promises. In Italy the lost tomb of Caligula is discovered to the south of Rome when a bloke arrested loading a 2.5m statue onto a truck shows police where he found it.

Tuesday 18 January
A judge finds that a Cornish hotel who refused to allow a same-sex couple to share a double bed were guilty of discrimination. In the USA there seems to be a quiet campaign to suggest that The King’s Speech, the film widely tipped for Oscar success, is antisemitic by ignoring George VI’s role in failing to aid Jewish refugees fleeing Germany. Back in the UK Segway scooters are banned from Britain’s pavements following a fine imposed on a man riding one in Barnsley. The mayor of Helsinki is to spend the equivalent of £1.6 million on a feasibility study to open a branch of the Guggenheim in the city.

Wednesday 19 January
We’re all in this together, part plenty: Goldman Sachs is handing out bonuses worth £10 billion to its staff. Ralph Fiennes’ debut as a film director is to be Coriolanus, which will be shown first at the Berlin film festival. London’s Southbank centre is to host a four-month celebration of the 1951 Festival of Britain, which was held on the site. Accusations of conflicts of interest in the Olympic Park Legacy Company as fingers are pointed at Tessa Sanderson, OPLC member and recipient of Newham council funds for her athletics academy. Meanwhile, London 2012 board member Tessa Jowell, says that the West Ham bid is the only honest proposal. It appears that England rugby international Delon Armitage was involved in a “fracas” during an attempted drugs test on New Year’s Day.

Thursday 20 January
The RSPB estimates that one in five species of birds native to the UK are in danger as a result of dropping numbers. Shakespeare’s Globe in London announces that it is to stage each of Shakespeare’s plays in a different language, 38 in all, as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. Police have recovered paintings believed to have been stolen from museums in Glasgow 15 years ago. Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, says that if the London 2012 stadium loses its athletics track the whole of the London bid will have been a lie. Meanwhile, sports minister Hugh Robertson surely reveals that he is a reader of The Leisure Review by suggesting that football is the worst-governed sport in the country.

Friday 21 January
Liverpool’s embassy in London is about developing business, says Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool council. Remember Steph Brennan, the physio implicated in, and subsequently struck off following, the Harlequins ‘bloodgate’ affair? He’s been, er, un-struck off by the high court. Athletes of various persuasions are adding their voices to protests regarding the potential disappearance of the 2012 track. The RFU is to subject candidates for the post of performance director to a series of “psychological tests” to make sure they get the right man (and it will be a man) for the job.

Saturday 22 January
Anne Robinson is to front a books-based version of Desert Island Discs on the BBC to precede and highlight world books day, which is on 3 March. A YouGov poll shows that three quarters of those asked are opposed to the privatisation of the Forestry Commission. Andrew Motion and other leading poets launch an exploration of Englishness in an effort to reclaim St George from the iconography of the far right. Six local authorities are to go to court to contest the government’s cancellation of investment under the Building for Schools programme.

Sunday 23 January
It seems that British tattoo artist Thomas Hooper is now the darling of the skin art world in New York. It also seems that a move towards football in the UK becoming a summer game might start in the north east of England with proposals for the Russell Foster Tyne and Wear Youth League to do just that. Meanwhile, still on Planet Football but a bit further south, Sky Sports brains trust, Andy Gray and Richard Keys, are recorded ranting on about why Sian Massey’s possession of ovaries renders her brain incapable of understanding the rules of the game; as the media coverage kicks in, the coats of Messrs Gray and Keys look to be hanging by the shoogliest of shoogly pegs. Lord Coe says that supporting West Ham’s bid for the Olympic stadium is a moral obligation and decision upon which depends the reputation of the UK as an athletics nation.

Monday 24 January
Noted anarcho-syndicalists, the CBI, reckon that the Conservative-led government is being “careless” with its cuts and is damaging any hints at an economic recovery. Derek Walcott wins the TS Eliot poetry prize. Keys and Gray are stood down from covering tonight’s soi disant ‘big game’ for fear of them having to open their mouths again, thus revealing the contents of their brains. Redditch council is planning to use heat from a crematorium for one of its swimming pools. The City of London Corporation, the City of London’s local council, reveals that expenditure has outstripped tax receipts for the first time. To no one’s surprise the Olympic Park Legacy Company has postponed the decision, scheduled for next Friday, on the tenant for the Olympic stadium.

Tuesday 25 January
The King’s Speech gets 12 Oscar nominations. Sky Sports sacks Andy Gray but the release of unbroadcast film clips on YouTube suggests that someone at Sky is serving up a big old dish of revenge and serving it very cold. Jo Shapcott wins the Costa book prize, making it two wins in the last two years for a poetry collection. The BBC is to screen an adaptation of Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood this summer. Rupert Murdoch misses the conference of world financiers in Davos in favour of talking to culture secretary Jeremy ‘Berkshire’ Hunt about the ethics of cross-platform media ownership in the UK. The BBC World Service is to cut 25% of its staff. Deloitte reckons that 80% of local authorities have made no start on the PM’s ‘big society’, largely because no one in Whitehall has much of an idea of what it is all about.

Wednesday 26 January
Robert Keys rants on for an hour on TalkSport, a radio station for those footballingly inclined, by way of a confused and accusatory apology; he resigns from Sky Sport. A sack of the porcelain seeds that composed Ai Weiwei’s installation at Tate Modern is to be sold at Sotheby’s. The National Theatre’s new programme is to include a musical by Tori Amos and a new drama by Mike Leigh and Simon Russell Beale. Hornby unveils a track cycling version of Scalextric. In Japan the best seller lists are topped by 99-year-old poet Toyo Shibata, whose book has sold 1.5 million copies. Multiple Tour de France winner Alberto Contador is to be banned for one year following recent failure of a dope test.

Thursday 27 January
An NHS survey suggests that the use of drugs is declining in every age group. Government funding cuts will see the closure of 250 Sure Start centres, say a group of charities. Lancashire County Cricket Club is to reveal losses of £2 million losses and concede that the future of the club could be in doubt if a proposed redevelopment of their Old Trafford ground does not go ahead.

Friday 28 January
Lord Clark of Windermere predicts that the privatisation of the nation’s forestry could be this government’s poll tax. In Soho the Raymond Revue Bar is to reopen as a club called The Box, a US import. Library campaigners are planning to take Jeremy Hunt to court over the disappearance of libraries across the country. James Blunt’s mum says that said that people should leave her boy alone after criticism from some quarters regarding the number of posh people in the pop charts. Alberto Contador insists on his innocence and says he will fight to clear his name.

Saturday 29 January
It’s the RSPB’s great garden bird watch weekend. Melvyn Bragg says that government plans to sell off forests equate to an act of vandalism. Famous Belgian Kim Clijsters wins the Australian Open,

Sunday 30 January
Adam Potter talks about his 300m fall from Ben Nevis and concedes that he is not really sure how survived. Sark, the smallest of the main Channel Islands, has been declared the world’s first dark sky island, a title that may well attract telescope-toting tourists. Andy Murray fails to take a set off Novac Djokovic in his latest grand slam final mishap.

Monday 31 January
The prime minister says that even his family don’t think he knows what he’s doing; they were talking about the NHS specifically on this occasion but it’s clearly a trend. London 2012 begins whittling the 250,000 volunteers down to the 70,000 required; the Little Baron admits that it will be a rigorous process. The BBC announces it is to cut the Electric Prom series as part of its cost-cutting agenda. Communities secretary Eric Pickles rejects proposals from local authorities wanting to spread their budget cuts over four years instead of 12 months. Meanwhile the National Institute for Economic and Social Research is the latest in a long line of thinktanks urging Georgie Osborne to delay public spending cuts for the good of the economy. The football transfer window closes with the usual evidence of a game in robust financial good health or circling the drain before dropping into a bottomless pit of venality, depending on whom you support. Gareth Southgate has accepted the job of head of elite development with the FA. Work on a Tiger Woods-branded golf course and property development in Dubai is stopped indefinitely, reflecting a drop in property values in the region. Composer John Barry dies aged 77.


the world of leisure
January 2011

Sunday 2 January:
The Office for Budget Responsibility says that the government’s austerity drive is going to adversely affect attempts to reduce the national deficit.




Friday 7 January:
It is estimated that 800 libraries – one fifth of the total – are to be closed as local authorities attempt to make ends meet; and, as Ed Vaizey said before he got into government, the closure of libraries “is outrageous and offensive to everyone who ever cared about books and reading”.

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