Thursday 1 March
It seems that the Duke of Sutherland has done the nation a favour in asking only £50 million a piece for two Titians; Diana and Actaeon was bought by the National Gallery of Scotland in 2009 and now the National Gallery has acquired the accompanying piece, Diana and Callisto, but the asking price is thought to be about half the market value. Engelbert is to represent Britain at the Eurovision song contest and legislation is to be introduced to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. Guess what: Martin Sorrell is to bring WPP back from Dublin now the government has promised him that it will “clarify” (ie reduce) multinational companies tax bills. Bastard.

Friday 2 March
If you’ve ever been to Newcastle you may remember the Tuxedo Royale, the boat that was moored under the Tyne Bridge to dispense beer and music to accompany youthful enthusiasm; it now sits listing in Middlesbrough docks, stripped and sad. Morrissey, crooner, litigant and noted foreign affairs expert, reckons that the Falklands belong to Argentina, or he does when he’s addressing a crowd in Buenos Aires.

Saturday 3 March
Twenty years after the publication of Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby reckons that the gentrification of football has ruined the game. Alex James says that the financial meltdown of the festival on his farm wasn’t his fault. The last oatcake bakery in the Potteries is to close.

Sunday 4 March
A liberal thinktank, CentreForum, suggests that spending £25 billion on replacing Trident might be a bad idea given that it is of no discernable use. Five cultural projects will celebrate 50 years of the Goethe-Institut in London later this year. Ah, it seems Andre Villas-Boas was right: he was just about to get sacked by Chelsea. Phew: Rebecca Adlington will be swimming at the Olympics, having now qualified for the GB team. Rory McIlroy is now the world’s number one golfer; official.

Monday 5 March
Fifty years after its report on smoking and health the Royal College of Physicians calls for more to be done to combat and discourage smoking. The Tate has bought 10 tonnes of Ai Weiwei’s hand-painted ceramic seeds, last seen spread across the Turbine Hall. Hugh Robertson reckons that mistakes were made over the issue of the Olympic sporting legacy but that the building blocks are in place. And lo! The British rhythmic gymnasts will go to the ball – and the ribbon and the hoop – after a tribunal reverses their governing body’s decision that they were not good enough to compete in their home Olympics.

Tuesday 6 March
Prince Harry does a passable impression of a likeable young man in Jamaica, taking his tour of jollity to Usain Bolt’s home track. Allen Stanford is convicted of a $7 billion fraud in the US and is looking at a lengthy jail term; what did happen to that big box full of money he brought into Lord’s? Serei Polunin, the ballet star who quit the Royal Ballet unexpectedly recently, explains that he didn’t want dancing to become a chore and he will keep it as a joyous hobby. Hiroshi Hoketsu, the Japanese equestrian, has qualified for London 2012 at the age of 70; he made his Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games in 1964. Lewis Hamilton is moving to Monaco from Switzerland, a frightening prospect for someone who had to quit Stevenage to escape the incessant hassle of the post office queue. Some Rangers players are being asked to take 75% wage cuts, leaving some of them struggling on as little as ten grand a week.

Wednesday 7 March
The Freud Museum in north London is hosting a exhibition of the work of Louise Bourgeois. Can you believe the Barbican centre was only built 30 years ago? Its chief exec, Sir Nicholas Kenyon, wants to make the place more “porous” to serve the city of London as a whole. Hampton Court is to hold an exhibition of portraits of the women of the Stuart court. It seems that Rangers FC may well be looking at liquidation as efforts to restructure the club’s financial meltdown seem doomed to failure. And the London Assembly has accused LOCOG of being obsessively secret about ticket sales for the Big Stratford Sports Day scheduled for this summer.

Thursday 8 March
The Queen takes to the streets of Leicester to mark the start of her diamond jubilee tour of the nation. The parliamentary public accounts committee strongly suspects that the London 2012 Olympics might run over budget, a budget currently running at £9.3 billion. The Lord’s Taverners are supporting the Cricket for Change initiative Street 20, which is training young people to take cricket into city estates. In Italy Cav wins the second stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Italy while in France Wiggo holds onto the lead of the Paris-Nice, a race no Brit has won since Tom Simpson in 1967. Dow, the company that bought you the Bhopal disaster, says it has no intention of not being part of London 2012 and John Terry breaks the professional footballers’ code by admitting that players bear some responsibility for the success or otherwise of their teams.

Friday 9 March
We’re all in this together department update: it seems that more than half of all young black men in the UK are now unemployed. In Scotland Rangers’ players have agreed a round of pay cuts to raise the likelihood of the team completing this season’s fixtures. In England football fan groups have voiced their despair at the FA’s apparent agreement to give up all authority over the professional game to the Premier League. In Germany the daily tabloid Bild is ending its 28-year practice of putting a topless woman on its front page.

Saturday 10 March
BBC 6 Music, the radio station saved by its listeners, celebrates its tenth birthday two years after it was scheduled to close. Damien Hirst is planning to open a new gallery in London to house his own extensive collection of modern art; scheduled date for the ribbon-cutting is sometime in 2014. More ball-over-the-line stupidity at Bolton when the match officials are the only people who don’t seem to realise that QPR have actually scored; before the end of the game the FA have issued a statement saying they have long wanted to introduce goal line technology but remain silent on the principle of requiring the lino to watch the game.

Sunday 11 March
Policing of the Olympics continues to be an issue, with the story this time being the hiring of newly ex-coppers to train the security staff now deemed necessary. It seems that Frank Lloyd Wright was moved to design a dog kennel at the request of an 11-year-old boy who wrote to him in 1956 asking for the great man’s design thoughts; the kennel has finally been constructed from the drawings FLW forwarded to the boy and will shortly feature in a documentary film. A fine time for GB Athletics at the world indoor championships, bringing home a total of nine medals. A finer time for British Cycling as Bradley Wiggins adds the Paris-Nice stage race to his palmares and adds his name to a list of Paris-Nice victors that includes some of the all-time greats.

Monday 12 March
Ian Duncan Smith wants the City and local authorities to invest £10 billion in an Early Intervention Foundation to prevent social breakdown, prompting the question regarding what he thinks local authorities have actually been doing for the last 150 years or so. The M25 is now the subject of a coach trip and Ruth MacKenzie, head of the Cultural Olympiad, says they are ready to deliver an excellent cultural Olympic programme in 100 days. Kenny Dalglish exposes the reality of modern football when he points to kit sponsorship deals being as valuable as points when weighing the success of football management. In Florence experts reckon they have definitely found a lost Leonardo in the Palazzo Vecchio behind a Vasari; what to do next?

Tuesday 13 March
The fight for libraries goes national as a number of authors take the argument to the lobby of the Palace of Westminster. Horse racing hits the front pages as Charlie Brooks and his wife, Rebekah, are arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The Birmingham Opera Company is to stage Karlheinz Stockhausen’s opera Mittwoch aus Licht, including real helicopters. MPs reckon that the Ministry of Defence has been “cack-handed” in its planning for the installation of surface-to-air missiles in time for the Olympic Games. Kerouac’s only full-length play will receive its world premier this autumn in his hometown of Lowell, Mass.

Wednesday 14 March
St Asaph’s in Wales, population 3,400, is to become the UK’s newest city. The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is to hold an exhibition of the work of Joan Miro, the first large-scale show on Miro in the UK. One measure of the depth of the current economic woes is that Greggs has been obliged to cut the cost of its products in certain parts of the country. Jacques Rogge admits to unease over athletes switching nationality and Professor David Cowan, who is head of the drugs testing lab for London 2012, reckons that the reputation of the UK’s anti-drugs stance will deter cheats. And with the FA having now bowed out of any responsibility for professional football it falls to the Premier League to take charge. Step forward then Premier League chairman Dave “Sir Dave” Richards, who took the opportunity of a dinner in Qatar to lecture anyone who would listen about how England had invented the game “in Sheffield 150 years ago”, how FIFA and then UEFA had come along and stolen it, and that the 2022 World Cup would have to have alocohol at its heart because its part of English culture. He then topped it off by falling into a fountain or swimming pool – definitions of the water feature are imprecise – on his way into dinner. The Premier League quickly explained he was speaking in a private capacity but we know that football is in safe hands.

Thursday 15 March
The erstwhile Kate Middleton – now the Duchess of Cambridge – wields a handy stick while taking to the brand new Olympic hockey pitch in Stratford. The chancellor of the exchequer is planning tax breaks for TV production in the UK, presumably to make sure that Julian Fellowes – now Lord Downton of Abbey – isn’t out of pocket. Welsh rugby legend Mervyn Davies dies at the age of 66.

Friday 16 March
Paul Simon is to bring Graceland to Hyde Park in July. Animators and computer games developers are telling the chancellor that while he’s throwing tax breaks about they would like to be as rich as Lord Downton of Abbey. In India Sachin Tendulkar finally scores his one hundredth international century, sending the whole Indian nation into paroxysms of celebration.
In Washington DC George Clooney and his dad are arrested at a protest outside the Sudan embassy.

Saturday 17 March
It seems scientists working at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory in deepest Oxfordshire have run out of helium and if you’ve got a jolly balloon floating over your desk you’re apparently part of the problem. Tesco is planning to build a superstore in Holmfirth in the Dales, legendary home of Last of the Summer Wine; protests abound. Edinburgh is Europe’s new capital of cool, according to someone, and in Cardiff Wales win the Six Nations grand slam. Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba suffers a cardiac arrest during the game against Tottenham and is hurried to intensive care while the match is abandoned.

Sunday 18 March
The privatisation of the railways worked so well that the current Tory administration is going to apply the same logic to our roads. The organisers of the London Olympics are to sit down with bookmakers to see whether there is any interest in preventing bent results during the Games. The chancellor’s plans to temporarily remove restrictions on Sunday trading during the Olympics and Paralympics are met with dismay by the Labour party (remember them?) and unions representing shop workers. Apparently the latest thing in the suburbs is clubs opening early for forty-somethings, allowing them to relive their raving youth with a babysitter on duty at home. The City of Adelaide, the second-oldest surviving clipper in the world (go on guess; it’s the Cutty Sark), is to be taken from its current berth on a slipway in Irvine to Adelaide where a future as a heritage attraction beckons. England’s women’s rugby side wins its seventh straight grand slam, noted by about 1% of the column inches given to the story of Fernando Torres going mental and actually scoring not one but two goals.

Monday 19 March
Mark Thompson confirms that he will leave his post as director general of the BBC after the Olympics. Meanwhile, at a primary school in east London Boris Johnson announces the 7,300 people who will carry the Olympic torch. It seems that in South Africa there are no actors sufficiently tall to play Mandela; Idris Elba is to do the job.

Tuesday 20 March
Farewell then, the NHS; only the BBC left to destroy and then the cultural vandals' work will be complete. And as if to echo the Tory achievements of the 1980s yet further, Stock, Aitken and Waterman are planning a reunion gig in Hyde Park this summer featuring many of their artists. An exhibition at the Pippy Houldsworth gallery in London, titled Sweethearts, features the work of married artists, or rather artists who happen to be married to each other. Kensington Palace unveils its visitor facilities after a £12 million refurb while Avon and Somerset police are backing a rural community watch which will see 30 horse riders serving as the eyes and ears of Inspector Knacker; resist the temptation to call it neeiiigh-bourhood watch. The South Sudan Theatre Company is bringing Cymbeline to the world’s newest nation and a Deloitte report predicts that 40% of high street shops will have closed in ten years. Professor Peter Taylor reckons that the Cadbury Spots v Stripes games initiative creates a social return worth £1.90 for every £1 invested and it seems that Saudia Arabia may be preparing to send a women’s team to the London Olympics in sports deemed appropriate. The CEO of the Premier League admits, in effect, that the Premier League’s chairman has been a numpty but that it is nothing to do with him.

Wednesday 21 March
Budget day and the chancellor makes sure that everyone who voted LibDem has now got the message. And prepare yourself to play your part in the investment in Trident, even though scrapping it would save £83.5 billion, according to research published by the British American Security Information Council. It seems that the USA has gone mad for One Direction, doing its best to recreate the frenzy of Beatlemania for the Twitter generation. The Lumiere cinema in London, the site of the first moving-image film projection in the UK, is to be restored and reopened, say the Westminster University, which owns the building.

Thursday 22 March
And lo, Great Britain’s new Olympic gym kit is unveiled at the Tower of London. Are those belts on the women’s tracky tops? Yes they are. Gregory Doran is named as the new artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and the world’s largest deckchair, constructed by artist Stuart Murdoch, is erected on Bournemouth beach. The Leisure Review’s Department of Who’d Have Thought It: Las Vegas, a city situated in the middle of a desert full of buildings fronted by huge lakes and fountains, seems to have run out of water. Dave Brailsford says he may well relinquish his day-to-day role as performance director of British Cycling next year as this role combined with the role of principal of the road racing team is getting a bit too much even for him.

Friday 23 March
Rioting? It’s all the fault of schools, according to Mayor Johnson. Arm’s length approach to the arts? It seems that Liz Forgan is to be forced out of her post as chair of the Arts Council because she’s sufficiently Tory. In Brixton the house in which Van Gogh lodged is up for sale, blue plaque included, and in Belfast they are preparing for the official opening of the new Titanic museum but will it be a case of White Star or white elephant?

Saturday 24 March
Remember the Conservative party’s hard and fast attitude to the proposed third runway at Heathrow, a principled stand against an unjustifiable assault on the environment? It seems in government attitudes may have changed and the economic case is now unanswerable. Proposals for the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol of 40p per unit seem to be imminent. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust celebrates its 100th anniversary and its chief executive, Martin Spray, points out that the government’s proposed changes to environmental legislation will put wildlife habitats under yet greater threat.

Sunday 25 March
Record temperatures for March as the whole of Britain falls in love with spring, until they have to put the clocks forwards. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls is among them as he is training for the London marathon. David Blanchflower, former Bank of England adviser, says that the school leaving age should be raised to 18 and firms employer young people should not have to pay national insurance. In Russia it seems that the punk wars are still raging, prompting the arrest of Pussy Riot, a band whose ‘punk prayer’ led to charges of hooliganism and the condemnation of the head of Russian Orthodox church.

Monday 26 March
Film impresario James Cameron takes to the deep, in fact about as deep you can go, reaching the bottom of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific some seven miles below the surface. Back on dry land the Office of National Statistics reckons that one third of babies born today will live to be 100 years old and the government reckons that national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty will be safe from a new deregulated planning regime which is “unashamedly pro-growth”. The Prince and Princess of Wales (some say Duchess of Cornwall) are in Elsinore, Denmark challenging headline-writers (some say sub-editors) to come up with their own Hamlet joke. Adele’s album 21 is now the sixth-biggest selling album in UK chart history and her impact is apparently being seen on sales of British artists, who now account for 52.7% of total UK sales.

Tuesday 27 March
To the shock of almost no one beyond the walls of Eton College and the cabinet office a government-commissioned study of last summer’s riots suggest that people need “a stake in society” if such disturbances are to be prevented. The Duke of Bedford finds that The Old Rabbi, which hangs on the walls of Woburn Abbey, is a genuine Rembrandt after all. No stranger to old masters herself, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall visits the set of The Killing in Denmark, receives her very own Lund-style jumper and reveals that the show is one of the few things her and Charles can actually agree to watch together. Back home the new planning laws will apparently instigate a presumption against out-of-town retail parks in favour of urban development, while recognising the “intrinsic value and beauty” of the countryside. The chancellor tells the Treasury select committee that the cutting of the top rate of tax means that the wealthy will work harder and bring their wealth home from offshore accounts, meaning the cost of the tax cut is actually only £100 million not the £4 billion calculated by some; and a third runway at Heathrow should be built exclusively for the use of pigs. Jacques Rogge, president of the IOC, says that London has “raised the bar on how to deliver a lasting legacy” for future Olympic hosts and, although he neglects to say just how high the bar is set, those present note that he is careful not to trip over anything as he leaves the room. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is putting £1.75 million into the launch of five “Asian and oriental centres of excellence”, known to the rest of us as ‘curry colleges’. Sections of Albert Einstein’s brain will go on show at the Wellcome Collection in London, the first time the great man’s inner organs have been displayed in the UK (although the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford is very proud of the blackboard he once wrote on). The value of exports of scotch whisky is now £4.2 billion and the FA is to appoint a full-time technical director for the first time in ten years.

Wednesday 28 March
Pastygate continues with senior politicians queuing up to talk about or even purchase hot baked take-away comestibles, most of them for the first time in their lives. The prime minister takes time out from trying to remember when he last ate something covered in pastry to bang the Olympic legacy drum alongside the Little Baron and Jacques Rogge. This exercise in hyperbole is followed by the usual site of grown men in suits trying to play a sport of which they have no experience. Meanwhile the chancellor’s woes continue as the Office for National Statistics shows the economy is weakening even as Mr Osborne’s strategy clearly showed that we would be entering the golden uplands of economic recovery now thanks to the slashing of public services and removal of benefits from those in need. Dozens of universities are expecting their application numbers to plunge and Sir Anthony Caro opens a display of 15 of his works at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. Saracens announce that they have sold all the tickets for their forthcoming league match against Harlequins at Wembley Stadium.

Thursday 29 March
Arts Council England announces 26 successful applicants to its capital funding plan, drawing rage and ire from many not on the list; Max Stafford-Clark leads the way, calling the Arts Council “absolute vermin”. The penguins at London Zoo now have an Olympic-branded diving board and the Scouts have launched a new clothing range for Muslim girls. The Treasury admits that it made some mistakes when the banking system was facing meltdown and in Berlin politicians are trying to rescue the city’s nightclubs from developers. Laura Ashley is to open a hotel in Hertfordshire that will serve as a “brand showcase”. Stuart Lancaster is appointed as England’s head coach by the RFU just as Peter Keen announces he is to step down as performance director at UK Sport just three months before the start of the 2012 Games. In Sri Lanka England’s cricketers climb out of the jaws of defeat in the last innings but trip over defeat’s teeth just before the final leap to safety and tumble right down defeat’s throat in a mass of flailing bats, stumps and failed sweep shots.

Friday 30 March
Angela Carter’s teenage poetry has been unearthed at her old school in back issues of the school magazine. The 34th International Mining Games are held in Cornwall and Fabrice Muamba seems to be on the mend. LOCOG are still deciding when to release the final tranche of tickets for the 2012 Games and speaking of the Olympics, remember Eric the Eel? Eric Moussambani, who famously represented Equatorial Guinea in the Sydney swimming pool, albeit slowly, will be back at the Games in London having been named as his nation’s swimming coach.

Saturday 31 March
Kenton Cool is taking an Olympic medal to Everest, hoping to summit with a medal presented in 1924 by Baron de Coubertin to climbers who took part in failed attempt on Everest in 1922. A third of UK workers don’t get enough sleep according a bit of research based on self-assessment of staff at a range of companies and Halfords report strong trading, particularly on bicycles. In Brazil there are accusations that preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup are in disarray, including allegations of corruption, chaotic planning and white elephant stadia.



the world of leisure
March 2012

"Hugh Robertson reckons that mistakes were made over the issue of the Olympic sporting legacy but that the building blocks are in place. And lo! The British rhythmic gymnasts will go to the ball – and the ribbon and the hoop – after a tribunal reverses their governing body’s decision that they were not good enough to compete in their home Olympics."

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