Sunday 1 April
It seems that hopes of making a mint out of renting out your house for the London Olympics are proving groundless. Sir Peter Blake celebrates his 80th birthday by creating a new version of his Sergeant Pepper’s cover, inserting his own choice of admired individuals. The campaign to have the Elgin marbles returned to Greece resurfaces, including support from Stephen Fry. And finally, surely finally, well done Gavin Henson, who is suspended by Cardiff Blues after being self-confessedly drunk and disorderly on an early-morning flight from Glasgow to Cardiff; he concedes that going out on the lash all night and continuing to drink on the 7am flight, during which he pelted fellow passengers with ice cubes, was a mistake.

Monday 2 April
Tate Modern opens its Damian Hirst retrospective. It seems that the Olympic authorities are targeting burger vans around the Olympic Park. In Cardiff the Blues sack Gavin Henson and FlyBe ban him from their planes. In Italy Andrea Masiello, who plays for Bari in Serie A, admits taking money to score a deliberate own goal.

Tuesday 3 April
Remember the prime minister’s big society? He’s launching it again, this time with a £600 million fund to support grassroots social projects. The latest egg from the limping goose that is London 2012’s design output is a new artistic vision for a British Airways plane; designer Pascal Anson, mentored by (who else?) Tracey Emin, has come up with the radical concept of painting feathers on it (do you see what he’s done there?). Meanwhile Titian’s 1507 work The Flight into Egypt is to be displayed at the National Gallery, its first appearance in the UK, on loan from The Hermitage. Problems with Surrey County Council’s plans to use volunteers in its libraries as the courts back claims that there has been insufficient regard to issues of equality. In China Ai Weiwei has put webcams in his house and studio so that he is visible to everyone, including the Chinese authorities, 24 hours a day. Sport England cuts funding to the LTA by £530,000 after the governing body of tennis fails to deliver on participation targets. “Participation is our top priority,” says Roger Draper.

Wednesday 4 April
Hmmm. It seems that Amazon pays no UK corporation tax on annual sales of £7 billion. It also seems that the late and largely unlamented Edward VIII was among the pioneers of surfing, having had lessons in Waikiki in 1920. Edinburgh zoo’s pandas confirm suspicions that they are just too fat and lazy to escape the demands of evolution; they have failed to get it on during the three-day fertility window and will sit on their arses eating until next year. In Blackpool freak weather conditions (ie wind and rain; how freakish is that?) mar the first official passenger journeys of the new tram system. Greg Searle makes the GB Olympic rowing team at the age of 40, while the first day of the track cycling world championships in Melbourne sees the GB boys beat Australia in the 4,000m pursuit with a world record. Some of the players in the Women’s Super League, the English football competition that kicks off next week, will be wearing their Twitter account names on their sleeves to generate some traffic. And still in the realm of women in sport, the chairman of Augusta National says that there are no plans to permit women to be members of the golf club that host the Masters, although he does at least look embarrassed as he says it.

Thursday 5 April
The power of poetry to excite and enrage is evidenced by reaction to Gunter Grass’s poem that takes issue with Israel’s nuclear arsenal. The UN is to protect the site of the Titanic wreck from “tourists”. The British Library has bought the draft score of Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and the Gargosian Gallery in London is to exhibit nine Henry Moore sculptures indoors, something of a rarity for Moore’s work. Rangers’ administrators say the club’s debts may reach £134 million and in Melbourne the women’s pursuit team matches the men’s team in all respects: beating the Aussies with a world record. Jim Marshall, eponymous creator of the famous amplifier, dies at the age of 88.

Friday 6 April
Damon Albarn says Blur’s Olympic gig in Hyde Park will be the band’s last outing. Equity launches a campaign to persuade gay actors that being open about their sexuality need not adversely affect their careers. Kipper sales are up. On the Melbourne boards Victoria Pendleton gets up off the floor to win her sixth world title.

Saturday 7 April
The Boat Race is livened up by the addition of a lone swimmer in the Thames. The chancellor is shocked – shocked – to learn how little the super-rich pay in taxes and is facing a campaign
from arts organisations to reverse the cap on the tax relief available on charitable donations, a change that is claimed to be threatening tens of millions of pounds in donations to cultural organisations. The Globe’s invitation to an Israeli theatre company to perform in London has created protests and counter-protests among theatrical types, and the Courtauld Institute in London is set to become a world centre for the study of Buddhist art following a gift from a Hong Kong philanthropist, Robert YC Ho. In Melbourne Laura Trott follows her rainbow jersey in the team pursuit with the world title for the omnium, cycling’s equivalent of the heptathlon, and in Sri Lanka England’s cricketers finally win a Test match.

Sunday 8 April
There is a new post of Welsh language commissioner in the principality, the holder of which is promising to take action against anyone not give Welsh speakers the freedom to express themselves. In a wholly predictable and hugely presumptuous move, Israel has banned Gunter Grass [See WoL passim] from visiting the country. In Melbourne Chris ‘Sir Chris’ Hoy wins the world keirin title, while in Europe Tom Boonen wins the Paris-Roubaix, adding to his Tour of Flanders victory a few weeks ago and putting him among the greats of cycling’s one-day Classics.

Monday 9 April
The arguments over the Bahrain grand prix rumble on with the only certainty that Bernie will make money out of it somehow. The Treasury’s changes to the tax relief on philanthropic donations apparently caught the culture secretary, Jeremy ‘Berkshire’ Hunt, by surprise. On Planet Football Kenny Dalglish takes the well-worn path of a referees’ anti-Liverpool conspiracy in an attempt to mask his inability to win football matches with a squad of expensively and recently hand-picked heavily tattooed multi-millionaires.

Tuesday 10 April
Surely to the surprise of no one the cruise ship retracing the route of the Titanic runs into trouble; already delayed by bad weather, it has had to airlift to hospital a passenger taken ill. The prime minister takes time out from his busy schedule fighting the class war at home to go moonlight as an international arms dealer in Indonesia. While we had all but forgotten Donald Trump owned the Miss Universe pageant, it came as no surprise when we were reminded. Richard Lewis, formerly chairman of the Rugby Football League, is appointed chief executive of the All England Club, one of the major players in the game of tennis. BBC Breakfast broadcasts from Salford; world does not shift on axis.

Wednesday 11 April
It seems that Disneyland Paris is both twenty years old and nearly €2 billion in debt. At home it seems ministers are to look again (ie think about it for the first time) at the implications of the recently introduced cap on charity tax relief. BBC2 is to screen a drama on the origins of the Paralympic Games and the Future Cinema company is to screen La Haine in Tottenham in addition to commissioning six films set on the Broadwater Farm estate. William Boyd is the latest author to take on James Bond with the consent of Ian Fleming’s estate. The V&A is lending the Great Bed of Ware to the Ware museum; it took six days to dismantle (the bed rather than the museum). MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee have warned that there may be chaos at Heathrow during the Olympics, suggesting that they haven’t flown out of Heathrow recently. The UK Uncut protest movement is urging communities to occupy public spaces this summer as part of a campaign against government spending policies. Some £2 million worth of Chinese artefacts have been stolen from Durham University’s Oriental Museum, while at the other end of the country the administrators working at Portsmouth FC say liquidation is still a possibility, causing dismay in Portsmouth and delight in Southampton.

Thursday 12 April
JK Rowling is planning a September launch for her first ‘adult’ (ie for adult readers rather than overtly racy) novel. Tamara Rojo, one of the world’s foremost ballerinas, is to take the post of artistic director of the English National Ballet. One of four versions of The Scream by Edvard Munch is on display in London prior to auction next month; estimates suggest a hammering at £50 million. Andy Farrell is to stay with Saracens rather than tour with the England rugby team as backs coach. Meanwhile Liverpool FC have sacked their technical director, Damien Comolli, whose job of finding “exciting young talent” was interpreted by Kenny Dalglish as “signing cheques for unproven yet bizarrely expensive talent”, also showing the door to their head of sports science, Peter Bruckner; Kenny keeps his job as Liverpool legend but with an ominous vote of confidence hanging over his head together with a pending laboratory report on the clay content of his feet.

Friday 13 April
The British Museum’s exhibition of art from the Hajj has been a huge hit with British Muslims, some 60,000 of whom are estimated to have visited the show. It seems athletes at the London Games will be subjected to stringent regulations regarding what they can put on social network sites, a result of the sponsorship and broadcasting rights arrangements. British paddlers get on the Olympic water to compete in the trials for the 2012 team.

Saturday 14 April
The Grand National at Aintree delivers a close finish for one pair of horses and a terminal end for another. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, representing every doctor in the UK, attacks the government for its failure to tackle the rise in obesity in any meaningful way. To the surprise of no one who reads The Leisure Review it seems that research has revealed that music is of great help to sufferers of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Sunday 15 April
Southern England is officially in drought. Matilda the Musical wins seven Olivier awards. Spain’s King Juan Carlos takes a leaf out of the British cabinet’s cultural and economic sensitivity by being photographed shooting an elephant on an expensive and blood-thirsty safari; he will no doubt be surprised by the outcry that will surely follow. More ‘was the ball over the line’ controversy in football, prompting yet more discussion of ‘goalline technology’, all of which was rendered comedically moot by Mr Logie Baird the best part of a century ago.

Monday 16 April
A coalition of pressure groups launches a new campaign against three Olympic sponsors, Dow, BP and Rio Tinto. Tate Modern is to inflict a new show dedicated to the pre-Raphaelites on the art-loving public later this year and it seems that the government is to look again (ie for the first time) at the problems caused to charities by altering the tax rules on philanthropy. The Little Baron fends off the doubters and says London 2012 is the most eagerly anticipated Olympics in living memory; meanwhile soi disant security guards continue to threaten members of the public taking pictures of the Olympic venue from the public highway. Andy Hunt of the BOA says that the target of fourth place in the medal table for the GB Olympic team should be an aspiration rather than a stark measure of success or failure.

Tuesday 17 April
Tim Berners-Lee says that the government should stop legislation to enable surveillance of online activity. One hundred days to go until the London Games and the message is that everything is as rosy as could be, particularly if you don’t mention the removal of civil liberties and the growing protests, but Peter Keen says that Team GB can win more medals than ever before. The BFI is to host a 58-film season dedicated to Hitchcock. Abu Dhabi’s museum projects, to have included a Louvre and a Guggenheim, seem to have stalled.

Wednesday 18 April
‘Inspire a generation’ is the official motto of London 2012, say LOCOG. In Bahrain the authorities say everything is ‘GO!’ for grand prix, particularly if you don’t mention the removal of civil liberties and the growing protests. In Italy the director of a Naples contemporary art museum burns a painting from its collection in protest against government funding cuts; others will follow if cash doesn’t start to flow. In the States BP finalises an $8 billion payout over the Deepwater disaster.

Thursday 19 April
This year’s Proms are to include all of Beethoven’s symphonies. Protestors target Rio Tinto’s AGM, protesting against its Olympic sponsor status in light of its record on pollution. Professor Chris Gratton and his Sheffield Hallam research team reckon that GB will win 27 Olympic golds this time around. Kenny Dalglish says that moving the FA Cup final to 5.15pm with only 55% of the tickets going to fans of the clubs involved shows the FA’s lack of respect for the game, prompting a general ‘Well, dur’ from everyone who has ever bought a ticket to a match.

Friday 20 April
The Olympic torch gets a practise run in – where else – Loughborough; smiles and white trackies (as opposed to Loughborough denizens’ usual all-black outfits) are the order of the day. Ched Evans, a Wales international footballer, is jailed for rape. The chairman of Addison Lee, one of London’s more self-regarding minicab firms, says cyclists are fair game in his battle to have his cars allowed in the bus lanes; cue a two-wheeled backlash. The Ivor Novello nominations for best album is an all-female list for the first time. Bert Weedon, guitar teacher extraordinaire, dies at the age of 91 and Levon Helm, drummer with The Band, dies aged 71.

Saturday 21 April
In Bahrain the F1 show rolls on with a backdrop of burning tyres and tear gas but Bernie manages to get a good night’s sleep nonetheless. In Barcelona a British investment company (inevitably) is planning to turn the marina in the Barceloneta into a haven for the super yachts of the super-rich, much to the dismay of local, working-class residents. Back home theatre director Rupert Goold is looking to social media to develop a new, younger audience for live performances.

Sunday 22 April
The Bahrain grand prix goes off largely without inconvenience to anyone inside the track complex. It seems Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin is now the focus of a dispute between those who want to exploit it for commercial gain and those who would like to acknowledge its political and historical significance. In Liverpool Royal de Luxe’s Sea Odyssey, a towering puppet show comprising an 18m-tall deep-sea diver, his 10m-tall niece and her dog, all hanging from cranes, amazes and enchants huge crowds. In the London marathon 30-year-old Claire Squires dies en route, prompting a huge public response for her charitable intent.

Monday 23 April
Shakespeare’s 448th birthday is marked by the launch of the world’s biggest festival of his work which will run throughout this Olympic year. Tate Modern’s new underground galleries, situated in the former gas tanks, will be used as a venue for live art performances while Yinka Shonibare’s ship in a bottle, recently seen on Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth, has reached its fund-raising target and will be installed at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich this week. The Royal and Ancient hints that the BBC will have to up its game if it wants to continue to broadcast the Open, while the Professional Footballer’s Association deem a conviction for rape to be a perfectly acceptable qualification for one of its teams of the year, naming Ched Evans [See WoL passim] in the League One list.

Tuesday 24 April
The Leveson enquiry sees Jeremy Hunt’s enthusiasm for News Corp’s ambitions ensnare him in career-threatening controversy. The English National Opera is to perform a new work by Philip Glass, based on a book on Walt Disney, next year. The Design Museum has named the Olympic torch the design of the year, calling it “a triumph of symbolism and beauty”. Not beautiful but perhaps equally symbolic is the Olympic ticketing computer system which is still not ready to offer 1.5 million remaining tickets for the London 2012 football competition, the draw for which takes place at Wembley. In Italy the future of the Maxxi contemporary art museum in Rome, designed by Zaha Hadid and opened only two years ago, hangs in the balance after its running costs come under scrutiny.

Wednesday 25 April
It seems that we’re back in recession, although very few people had noticed the brief period when we had come out of it, among them the chancellor. The government’s own leisure department is on the front page after Jeremy Hunt lives up to his unfortunate nickname thanks to the Leveson revelations that he was quite prepared to give News Corp everything they wanted whether it was legal for him to do it or not. The BBC will have 765 staff on duty to cover the Olympics. In the Tour de Romandie in Switzerland Bradley Wiggins wins a sprint finish to take the lead in the week-long race. In Los Angeles the sixth annual Brit Week kicks off to promote British talent and in Barcelona Chelsea pull off an unlikely victory against Lionel Messi and co in the semi-final of the Champions League.

Thursday 26 April
Details of the London 2012 Festival, which will run from 21 June to 9 September, are announced in the presence of Secretary Hunt who still has the full backing of the prime minister, which suggests that neither of them have read the ministerial code. Robert Redford is in London to launch the Sundance festival and he takes time to point out that the prime minister doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to financing films. UEFA seem to suggest that John Terry would be able to pick up the Champions League trophy were Chelsea to win it, although professional pride, personal dignity and respect for his team-mates who had actually contributed to any victory would obviously make it impossible for him so to do.

Friday 27 April
The chief constable of Gloucestershire, Tony Melville, is to stand down from his post saying that budget cuts are making his job impossible. A former Soviet restaurant in Gorky Park is to become Moscow’s latest and most trendy art centre. Pep Guardiola says he won’t be renewing his contract as manager of Barcelona; it seems he needs a rest from football.

Saturday 28 April
The British taxpayer has apparently bought Yinka Shonibare’s Victory in a bottle sculpture twice, once for £170,000 when it was commissioned from the artist (including fee of £30k and costs of £170k) and again for £365,000 to put it permanently at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. The Frieze art fair is to expand from it British roots, opening this week in New York. In Italy it seems some 50 players representing half the teams in Serie A are to be investigated as part of a huge match-fixing scandal; could this finally be the hole that sinks this particular rotting ship? Meanwhile, Southampton are up, Wycombe are down and Wiggins is set fair for another stage-race victory.

Sunday 29 April
Fancy a cruise this year? Bear in mind that some P&O staff are on a basic wage of 75p an hour, an arrangement with which the crew is “much happier”, according to – guess who – P&O. Some disquiet among residents in That London who may have surface-to-air arsenals put on their roofs during the Olympics, although for which sport one requires such equipment no one has yet revealed. To the surprise of almost no one the FA seems to have a short list with only one name on it; to the surprise almost everyone the name on that list is Roy Hodgson. And now Fernando Torres cannot stop scoring; three in one match this time. Brad Wiggins wins his second major stage race of the year, putting him (whisper it) among the pre-race favourites for the Tour.

Monday 30 April
Noma in Copenhagen is named the world’s best restaurant again; only three UK venues are in the top 50. Having dropped the mayor’s weekly press conference, Boris Johnson says that his second mayoral term will feature increased accountability via a question and answer session on Twitter. Yep, actually he said it. Elizabeth Fraser, the voice of the Cocteau Twins, has been persuaded to perform at this year’s Meltdown festival on the Southbank and in New York the still uncompleted One World Trade Centre is now higher than the Empire State Building. Back home the British Olympic Association loses its case at the Court for Arbitration in Court, meaning its bylaw banning athletes caught doping from competing for Britain is overturned. BOA chair, Colin Moynihan, says that the World Anti-doping Authority needs to be reformed to take a tougher stance against doping; meanwhile Dwain Chambers’ agent talks of forgiveness, colonial attitudes and, one suspects most importantly, lost earnings. And speaking of lost earnings, Danny Cipriani has left the Melbourne Rebels early, heading for Sale with a stated aim of playing for England again.


the world of leisure
April 2012

"Edinburgh zoo’s pandas confirm suspicions that they are just too fat and lazy to escape the demands of evolution; they have failed to get it on during the three-day fertility window and will sit on their arses eating until next year. In Blackpool freak weather conditions (ie wind and rain; how freakish is that?) mar the first official passenger journeys of the new tram system."

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