Thursday 1 November
In plenty of time for Armistice Day military historian Andy Robertshaw has completed a reconstruction of a first world war trench in his back garden in Surrey. The Royal Academy announces plans for an exhibition of 200 years of Australian art, while the Tate says it is going to host a two-year examination of African art. Danny Baker declines the invitation to keep quiet about the fact that BBC Radio London has cancelled his daily show and lambasts the station’s middle management for the full two hours of what quickly becomes evident will be his final broadcast. Meanwhile, Prince Charles is spotted on a bus. The office of millionaire businessman and gladhander Tony Blair has decided that it will start paying its interns. Four hundred people were killed on the UK’s roads between April and June of this year, a reduction of 18% on the previous year. In Australia the television-viewing nation is being wowed by a drama series based on the lives of indigenous Australians.

Friday 2 November
A star-studded retinue of arts experts has issued a concerted call for the proposed Ebacc qualification to be reviewed to include the arts and the creative industries. Alt-J wins the Mercury music prize. Stonewall says roll up, roll up for its bigot of the year award, regardless of its critics. In Japan they cannot get people to join up to a career in sumo owing to the fact that it the sport is mired in scandal and the life is exceptionally hard.

Saturday 3 November
Courtenay Love says she won’t let a musical about Kurt Cobain go ahead. Experts on the natural world reckon that the ash dieback could be the opening of a lengthy onslaught of continental pathogens, while the Lake District could be subject to masts and pylons after planning constraints on such things are relaxed. On Planet Cycling Alexandr Vinokourov is accused of paying off a rival to win the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in the spring of 2010, a claim that will probably be met with the usual shrug of the shoulders employed by Vino for all his other drug busts and dishonesty.

Sunday 5 November
It seems that sales of singles are booming thanks to digital music downloads. Paul Gallen from Belfast wins the UK Scrabble championship, with a board that includes ‘coof’, ‘ur’ and ‘jism’. Oh dear. And oh dear again: Britain’s oldest man, Reg Dean, turns 110 and ascribes his longevity to idleness. Tibetan artist Dorje Lungdup self-immolates in protest at Chinese occupation of his nation.

Monday 6 November
Springsteen is pulling out all the stops to help Obama over the line in tomorrow’s US presidential elections; he may be making a difference. ITV confirms it has commissioned a sitcom about a gay couple to star Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Derek Jacobi and Frances de la Tour; can’t be any worse than Will and Grace but will never touch Gimme Gimme Gimme, a televisual high-water mark.

Tuesday 7 November
The Office for National Statistics says that the number of deaths in England and Wales resulting from heart disease, strokes and other circulatory diseases has fallen, owing to, they suggest, medical advances and healthier lifestyles. The National Trust launched an appeal to buy the last bit of the white cliffs of Dover in private ownership and commissioned Carol Ann Duffy to do a poem about it, which has just been published. In Saudi Arabia David Cameron fawns over despots, accepting their baubles and honours in an effort to sell weapons, making everyone in the UK feel really proud of their nation and its culture. This year’s wet weather, which brought a surge in sewage, has resulted in 40% of UK beaches failing cleanliness tests. President Obama wins a second term.

Wednesday 8 November
The Little Baron takes the helm at the British Olympic Association, saying that he will pick up the baton of the fight for stringent penalties for drug cheats. David Cameron claims Barack Obama as “my friend” in a widely disseminated and highly emetic post-election tweet. The mayor of Tower Hamlets decides that the London borough will sell its Henry Moore, despite petitions and the recommendation to the contrary from councillors. The ash dieback disease is spreading; six new counties in the UK have traces. Yoko Ono will be the curator of next year’s Meltdown festival at the Southbank in London. Celtic beat Barcelona at Parkhead, creating one of the greatest nights in the Glasgow club’s history, according to translations of statements by those present.

Thursday 9 November
Wiggo is knocked off his bike and all the way into hospital by a van driver, prompting cycle safety to dominate the news agenda. Phew: the new archbish of Cantab, Justin Welby, is an Old Etonian. The cabinet subcommittee on public health, initiated two years ago as a symbol of the government’s commitment to tackle obesity and health inequalities, has been disbanded. Meanwhile, shadow health secretary and erstwhile culture secretary Andy Burnham calls for a legal limit on fat, salt and sugar levels in food. Mark Ramprakash has been appointed to a coaching role to the England Test team. Hold on: now Shane Sutton’s been knocked off his bike but his injuries are a lot more serious, including concussion and a suspected extra-dural, although he is said to be OK.

Friday 10 November
It’s all going pear-shaped at the BBC as Newsnight’s claims of sexual abuse fall short of that most basic of journalist marks, actually being true. George Osborne, that paragon of practical economics and applied mathematics, reckons that the process of the Bank of England printing money and giving it to discredited financial institutions has actually generated a £35-billion profit, which is going into the Treasury. The environment secretary (we’ll give you a minute) says that there is now no chance of preventing the spread of the ash dieback disease (it’s Owen Paterson). Skyfall has done enough business in its first two weeks to make it the number one film of the year in the UK. Bill Tarmey, the best thing about Coronation Street for many years, dies aged 71.

Saturday 11 November
When it comes to tax evasion (let’s stop it with the euphemisms), as Mama Cass so memorably put it, it’s getting better; this time it is three of the UK’s biggest water companies pay almost no tax on their profits. Fewer women are being appointed to quangos this year than were appointed last year; around one in three posts go to women at present. In the US they are coming to terms with the fact that two states have passed legislation to decriminalise marijuana in the recent election, which could see cracks develop in the Maginot line of the war against drugs.

Sunday 12 November
The Beeb is looking for a new director general amid a meltdown at the corporation. The Why Not Find Out campaign is asking young people to make films about alternative highs achieved without the aid of chemicals; they are hoping films will focus on things like sport and music. In Venice the Piazza San Marco is under five feet of water as high tides surge throughout La Serenissima.

Monday 13 November
Cue Mama Cass again: it seems Amazon, Google and Starbucks pay barely any tax on their huge UK sales. And, to the surprise of no one whose study of economic theory has reached the academic heights of actually going into a shop and buying something, it seems that the wholesale gas supply market has been rigged to increase consumer prices. The private security firm that guards the Tower of London apprehended a late-night intruder and escorted him outside without enquiring whether he had stolen a set of keys; he had. Birmingham City Council estimates that settlement of equal pay claims could reach £757 million. Remember the big society? Charitable donations in the UK dropped 20% last year, according to the Charities Aid Foundation. In France there is outrage at the threat of a tax on Nutella.

Tuesday 14 November
It seems that the austerity measures that bind us all together in the face of the necessity of economic hardship are adversely affecting local authority budgets in areas of deprivation more than wealthier areas by a factor of ten. But the private sector, the driving force of the last 30 years of British political thought, is here to save us; let us not forget that the energy companies need to collude and conspire to raise consumer prices for the good of us all. No wonder the government wanted to keep Prince Charles’s correspondence under wraps: now another of his close associates, Peter Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, has been implicated in child abuse, only this time the alleged perpetrator has actually been arrested owing to the fact that he is still alive. The National Heart Forum says the government should introduce a tax on fatty foods, although Denmark has dropped similar measures after a year with the Danish government concluding that the experiment had failed. Roy Hodgson says that players picked for England should want the honour so much that they would ride their bikes to training if necessary. Still on Planet Football, the shadow sports minister (go on then: it’s Clive Efford) says that the rumoured £5 billion television rights deal coming the way of the Premier League risks perpetuating a culture of greed within the game. Meanwhile, Frankie Detorri adds his name to the list of UK-based jockeys to fail a dope test in France.

Wednesday 15 November
Sir Mervyn King, widely respected for his prediction strike rate of zero when talking about banking and the economy, is now saying that the UK economy will be up and down like an alcoholic’s pint pot (we paraphrase slightly) for the foreseeable future; although, as we have been shown, this future is not foreseeable by him. Kenny Branagh is going to do Macbeth at next year’s Manchester international festival and Superstars is coming back to our TV screens for Christmas, packed full of Olympians. The BBC pauses from the ongoing orgy of self-harming to mark 90 years of radio with Damon “out of Blur” doing the soundscape honours. Steve Drowne, joint president of the Professional Jockeys Association, channels the UCI and claims that Frankie Detorri’s drug use is an isolated case within the sport. UK Sport is to invest £27 million in bidding for major events to Britain, the FA rejects claims that it is institutionally racist, Manchester United are now registered in the Cayman Islands, saving £26 million in UK tax as a result, and the head of UK Athletics, Ed Warner, says that the saga over the Olympic Stadium is turning into a farce; and, apart from the tense of the verb, he is entirely correct.

Thursday 15 November
Those nice people at BP, who only have our best interests at heart, has agreed to pay a $4.5 billion fine for the 2010 Deepwater disaster in the US, the biggest criminal fine in legal history. Danny Boyle, aka “Mr Olympics”, offers an excoriating attack on the government’s attitude to culture, using bad language regarding the current culture secretary (we’ll get back to you) and everything. The Corrie musical has come off the rails [Surely ‘tram tracks’? Ed] while another putative pantomime, Barnet’s “easyCouncil” outsourcing plan, is still the subject of argument among the borough’s Tories; many of them see it as unworkable and unwanted, while the rest concur but don’t care. The Royal College of Art is marking its 175th birthday with an exhibition of work by former students. Vince Cable continues to implement the LibDem’s long-term strategy of distancing itself from a government that it has kept alive by saying that it is “deeply angering” that so many businesses are avoiding tax.

Friday 16 November
It seems that the MoD’s previously proven procurement process has now committed £10 billion to sub-standard subs, confirming that its procurement process has long been proven to be wholly and spectacularly inept. With £5 billion rumoured to be in the offing, the chairmen of Premier League clubs are getting together to discuss things like wage caps.

Saturday 17 November
Phew: The Killing is back with jumpers intact. Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner, is working on a new book and Raymond Briggs has given his blessing, along with an enthusiastic thumbs-up, to the follow-up to The Snowman, which will be screened this Christmas. The Rothschilds and National Trust are working together to campaign for amendments to the proposals for the high-speed rail line.

Sunday 18 November
World Cup cycling in the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in Glasgow brings a continuation of success for British Cycling, even with its new-look team. The UK has lost 44 million breeding birds since 1966, according to The State of the UK’s Birds 2012 report. News from the Department of Make Your Bleedin’ Mind Up: having spent a generation saying that children should be forced through an exam-based school process to make them ready for work, business leaders, in the shape of the CBI, are now saying that the UK curriculum should put less emphasis on exams and instead focus on producing “rounded and grounded” individuals. A compendium of road safety charities are calling for a nationwide extension of 20mph speed limits in urban areas.

Monday 19 November
World of Leisure is shocked – shocked! – to discover that BSkyB is among the many corporations avoiding paying tax to the Exchequer. The Heritage Lottery Fund announces an £11.4 million grant to assist the restoration of Hastings pier, currently a burnt-out skeleton after an arson attack in 2010. Camra says that the disappearance of pubs is a threat to the social fabric. In Cologne pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (sic – he’s Norwegian) is introducing profoundly deaf and hearing-impaired children to music via the underneath of a piano; he’s hoping it will catch on around the world. The RFU has poached sports scientist Matt Parker from British Cycling; let’s see how they get on together.

Tuesday 20 November
Just in case anyone was in any doubt, the Church of England reveals its corporate culture to be sexist, outdated, outmoded and surplus to the requirements of a modern society by deciding that girls are not allowed to play in the dressing-up box that has the pointy hats. A study by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England finds that thousands of children a year are subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation in the UK. Greg Rutherford is following his coach, Dan Pfaff, to Arizona and David Beckham says he is off somewhere at the end of the season for the final “challenge” of his career, although his contract always includes a clause that he does not have to tackle anyone.

Wednesday 21 November
The Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that the chancellor’s excellent wheeze to make this a land fit for rich people to go about their business unhindered by the likes of the rest of us is in fact a bigger pile of cock than they had first thought; they calculate that he will miss his borrowing target by the small matter of £13 billion this year. The site of the Earls Court exhibition centre in London is to be redeveloped with a 77-acre residential scheme of four “urban villages” designed by Sir Terry Farrell. Venezuela is to spend £90 million on a mausoleum to Simon Bolivar, the nation’s founding father who spent some time living in London, where he is memorialised, perhaps inadequately but certainly more cost-effectively, by a couple of blue plaques. Halfords says that it can trace a significant boost in sales of bikes and cycling equipment to the Tour de France and the Olympics. UK Athletics says that its new elite athletes’ hub in Loughborough will do the trick, even though the number of coaches employed by the governing body is being cut. Chelsea continue their managerial merry-go-round, sacking Roberto DiMatteo, who delivered the club’s first European Cup and another FA Cup, and replacing him with Liverpool’s own Rafa Benitez.

Thursday 22 November
Right then: Tony Hall, previously in charge of the Royal Opera House and head of BBC news, is now the director general of the BBC. The Museum of Liverpool is to host an exhibition of paintings by the late Beryl Bainbridge, more celebrated during her life for her novels. Manor House Wildlife Park in Wales is found guilty of breaches of health and safety regulations following a serious injury to a child caused by a falling branch during a storm in 2010. The Aldeburgh festival is to commemorate the centenary of Benjamin Britten with new compositions. Madonna is taking on the Russian state single-handed, taking to the stage in Moscow and supporting both gay rights and Pussy Riot. Jessica Ennis’s coach, Tony Minichello, says that the number of children turning up to athletics clubs has doubled since the Olympics and coaches are not able to cope with the numbers. The Football Association says that referee Mark Clattenburg, formally accused of racist comments by Chelsea, has no case to answer; could the fact that the player who insisted he heard him using the alleged racially insulting epithet speaks hardly any English have had any bearing on the case? In Rome Spurs fans are attacked by a mob, leaving dozens injured; Lazio, Spurs’ opponents, says it is nothing to do with them.

Friday 23 November
The culture secretary (got to hurry you…) urges the Church of England to get a grip on the issue of female bishops (its’ Maria Miller, Max’s girl…). A letter written by Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin is to go under the hammer at Christie’s; the letter reveals that both artists “made several excursions to the brothels” but that they were there to paint. Of course. Circus owner Bobby Roberts is found guilty of mistreating an elephant in his charge. Newcastle city council announces the complete removal of its £2.5 million culture budget; Lee Hall condemns the move and attacks “the supine nature of local government”, while culture minister Ed Vaizey tells parliament that “the arts are in a very healthy state in this country”.

Saturday 24 November
The TUC has commissioned research that suggests the nation’s poorest families are facing cuts to their income of 30%. It seems Manchester Utd has spent more in the last six years on tax advisers than it has on corporation tax. Clive Anderson, president of the Woodland Trust, says that we are likely to lose all of our ash trees in the next few years. Harry Redknapp is back in management, this time in London with QPR. Meanwhile, interest in hockey has shown a sharp spike, with 23,000 participants in England Hockey’s Give it a Go initiative.

Sunday 25 November
Some 800 million people have now watched Psy’s Gangnam Style video on YouTube. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says that there has been a significant rise in working adults living in poverty; they put the figure at 6.1 million. Meanwhile, Little Georgy Osborne is told by manufacturers, including the British Chambers of Commerce and something called the EEF (“the manufacturers’ organisation”, which should make them the TMO) that the UK economy cannot cope with further austerity measures; thankfully the chancellor knows a lot more about these matters than everyone else so we can rest easy. At Chelsea the ‘Rafa out’ banners are unfurled at Stamford Bridge before Mr Benitez even appears out of the tunnel. At UK Sport they are preparing to launch an elite coaching programme, taking a dozen coaches from “world-class level to world-leading” up to the 2016 Olympics.

Monday 26 November
The short list for the BBC’s sports personality of the year award is unveiled with appropriate ceremony; there are Olympians and, unlike last year, some women. The National Portrait Gallery has acquired a portrait of Amy Winehouse by Marlene Dumas, while the Pennine Tower Restaurant on the M6 between junctions 32 and 33 has been listed by English Heritage as part of the heritage of motoring’s “golden age”. Performing in Beijing, Elton John dedicates the show to his friend Ai Weiwei, apparently causing a visible wave of unease through the audience. The Leica camera used by David Douglas Duncan to take many pictures of his friend Pablo Picasso has been sold for £1.4 million.

Tuesday 27 November
Stella McCartney, the designer who put a belt on a tracksuit, is honoured at the British Fashion Awards as designer of the year. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence publishes a report recommending active travel – essentially walking and cycling – as a focal point in tackling the obesity epidemic; local authorities, schools and workplaces are urged to do their bit to make people active. The Southbank Centre announces a year-long music festival, The Rest is Noise, and work starts on removing the seating pods from the Olympic aquatics centre. The British Library is sending the Cyrus cylinder out on loan for the first time, while another British-owned export, James Bond, is credited with rescuing Pinewood Shepperton studios. On the rugby pitch, England’s women beat New Zealand again to take the three-match series, their second series win in succession against the Black Ferns. Ben Ainslie says that he won’t be competing in the next Olympics, preferring instead to focus on the America’s Cup, a move that some suggest could see him recognised as the best sailor since Drake, if not of all time.

Wednesday 28 November
It’s Celeb Central in New Zealand as stars head for the premiere of The Hobbit. The home secretary, Theresa May (we all know that), announces that legislation will be introduced for a minimum price per unit for alcohol. Noted equalities campaigner Herman Ousley says that the Equality Commission has failed and would not be missed if it were to disappear. Demonstrating the bizarre effect that a tenancy at the DCMS seems to have upon the mental faculties of politicians, Jeremy Hunt says how much he admires Nadine Dorries for going on I’m a Desperate Celebrity and how we should “treasure” such characters in parliament. And to prove the point, step forward the current culture incumbent (you should know this), who takes issue with Sir Nicholas Hytner’s condemnation of government attitudes to the arts; Hytner’s criticisms are dismissed as outrageous (it’s Maria Miller) given that the government funds the arts and culture to the tune of £3 billion, even though it doesn’t (the current culture secretary’s £3 billion figure seems to include lottery money, rather undermining her point, according to some commentators). England’s men’s cricket team is to have two coaches; Ashley Giles is to take over the helm of the one-day side, leaving Andy Flower to focus on the Test side. On the eve of the Leveson Report Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert explains his concept of integrity to journalists: “If I was going to lie to you, honestly, I would lie. I ain’t lying.” Meanwhile West Ham are said to be favourites to be named as tenants at the Olympic stadium, bringing the established oafish values of football and the Hammers’ own brand of racism and thuggery to sully the magical memories of the Olympic Park; well done everyone involved.

Thursday 29 November
The prime minister takes a good few minutes to read the Leveson report  and decide that he will not be implementing it in full, even though he has said unequivocally that this is what he would be doing; and Jeremy ‘Berkshire’ Hunt seems to have been cleared of anything considered uncalled for, such as lobbying for Murdoch while pretending to be the culture secretary. Work worth £500,000 by artist Douglas Gordon seems to have been stolen from Christie’s. Thought things were a bit quiet? Might have something to do with Boris Johnson being in India. Ricky Ponting retires from international cricket in Perth 17 years after his Test career began in the same spot.

Friday 30 November
Is Eurovision under threat from the decision by Greece, Portugal and Cyprus that they cannot afford to enter the competition? One can only hope. Sir Nicholas Hytner continues his attack on culture secretary (we have recently established that it is still Maria Miller) for failing to stick up for the arts and culture within cabinet. Grayson Perry has donated six of his tapestries to the nation via the Arts Council collection of works it sends out on loan. Manchester city council announces that it is to axe 900 jobs. Malaysia’s Islamic part is protesting against Elton John for promoting “immoral” and “hedonistic” values; they should have seen The Pogues.





the world of leisure
November 2012

"David Cameron claims Barack Obama as “my friend” in a widely disseminated and highly emetic post-election tweet."

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