Friday 1 February
Disquiet among literary circles over the ‘chick-lit’ cover for the 50th-anniversary edition of Silvia Plath’s The Bell Jar; it might surprise a few Louise Bagshawe readers on the beach this summer. In a gallery in Milton Keynes Swiss artists Silvia Bachli and Eric Hattan have secreted a blank cheque for eight grand somewhere in the exhibition; business at the turnstile has been unsurprisingly swift. Meanwhile Tate Modern is to show Roy Lichtenstein’s one and only foray into film. In Japan Minami Minegishi, a young woman who is a member of a celebrated Japanese pop group, shaves her head and issues a humble and extended apology for the crime of having a boyfriend. Still in Japan, Ryuji Sonoda, the coach of the Japanese women’s judo team, resigns after accusations that his coaching style involved bullying and physical abuse. Basketball and wheelchair fencing are successful in their appeals to UK Sport for continued funding, although ongoing support will be dependent upon “strict performance criteria”. Briton Shelly Rudman has won her first skeleton bob world championship.
Saturday/Sunday 2/3 February
Tania Farah says that she and her husband, medal machine Mo, are fully behind a campaign to increase sport in schools. A photo of blues legend Robert Johnson has been discovered, only the third image of Johnson known to exist. Jonathan Miller says that directors should stop setting plays in different eras from those in which they were written. In Italy La Scala has banned one of the top critics for writing one too many bad reviews, while in Mumbai England’s Charlotte Edwards hits a century in the women’s cricket world cup, making her the highest scorer in one-day internationals.
Monday 4 February
The Harvard School of Public Health reckons that active men have a higher sperm count than those who are sedentary; next up, smoking may well be a bit bad for you. It seems it is Richard III under that car park in Leicester [No wonder he had the hump. Ed]. A celebrated portrait by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot has been left to the National Gallery in the will of Lucian Freud. To the surprise of no one it seems that the staging of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in Russia has been a master class in corruption, organised crime, theft and excess; the event is likely to cost Russia some £32 billion; the IOC will declare it the “best ever” without a backwards glance. Bill Furniss, most noted as Rebecca Adlington’s coach, is appointed head coach at GB Swimming; Chris Spice is now the national performance director. And FIFA talks the talk about revelations of a major match-fixing conspiracy that has seen more than 700 matches investigated.
Tuesday 5 February
The House of Commons endorses the right of gay people to marry by an overwhelming majority. Barnet council has agreed to hand over the Friern Barnet library, the closure of which has been the focus of long-standing protests and occupations, to the community, raising hopes that it can now remain open. Research from the Prince’s Trust says that teaching young people to fail is a key factor in enabling social mobility and in China a translation of Joyce’s Finegan’s Wake has become a surprise best seller. In Kashmir a rock group comprising teenage girls has decided to jack it in after the issuing of a fatwa against them. As expected, Rebecca Adlington announces her retirement at the age of 23 and says that she wants to be part of a campaign to make sure every child can swim by the time they leave primary school.
Wednesday 6 February
Tate Liverpool opens its exhibition dedicated to glam rock and the government says that all dogs in England will be obliged to carry an identity microchip. Monopoly’s attempt to create interest by replacing the iron with a cat seems to have failed. Self-employment is up by 10% since the start of the recession in the UK.
Thursday 7 February
Every one of London’s 270 tube stations is to have a unique labyrinth plaque designed by Mark Wallinger as part of the Underground’s 150th anniversary, reminiscent of the tube’s original colour-coded stations to enable those who couldn’t read to get off at their station. Shakespeare’s Globe is to take Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses plays on a tour of appropriate battlefields. Vladimir Putin has publicly humiliated and sacked Akhmed Bilalov, the head of preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics. The music industry may be ailing but Warner has paid £487 million for Parlophone. In Australia it seems that much of their professional sport has been engulfed in a huge doping scandal. Back on the UK satellite of Planet Football, the English Premier League introduces new rules that mean clubs can only spend massively beyond their means instead of obscenely beyond their means; this will apparently solve everything until the last supporter of a Premier League club dies about 30 years from now. Cecil Womack dies aged 65.
Friday 8 February
The abuse of performers, already sickeningly familiar in sporting contexts, moves on to music with the conviction of a music teacher and his wife who worked and preyed at Chetham’s school of music in Manchester. In Cornwall plans to dredge sand from off shore on an industrial scale causes concern among surfers who fear the wave patterns will be altered. At the Louvre a woman is arrested for defacing Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix, while in Spain there is concern about the impact of a proposed gambling complex – EuroVegas if you will – outside Madrid. In Qatar (cough) Mark Cavendish wins his fourth stage in a row and wins the race, only his second stage race victory.
Saturday/Sunday 9/10 February
Barclays says it is going to close its tax avoidance department, having spent years strenuously denying it had one. The UK circus season gets going and this is the first year that there will be no big cats in the big tops. Tony Minichiello has rejected the job offer from British Athletics and Hollywood stars arrive for the BAFTAs, grinning through the sleet for the assembled press. Elton John’s dedication of a song to Ai Weiwei during a Beijing performance means he is unlikely to get another visa. Nigeria win the African Cup of Nations, while in Israel Beitar Jerusalem football club has its premises burned to the ground, an attack thought to be a response to the club signing two Muslim players. Five crew members of the Thompson Majesty cruise liner are killed during a lifeboat drill and Paul McMullen, manager of the Fisherman’s Friends singing group, is killed in an accident at the G Live theatre in Guildford.
Monday 11 February
The Pope resigns, calling into question God’s employment procedures. At the Grammys, British performers Mumford and Sons, Adele and Paul McCartney are among the gong-winners. Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman reckons that she has successfully intervened to persuade Newcastle city council not to cut its arts budget in its entirety, while Tate Britain unveils a new hanging of its landscape paintings. Diving Olympian Pete Waterfield explains why he was a bit gutted to be told his funding was being cut and that he’s a bit upset that no one from British Swimming has actually spoken to him about it.
Tuesday 12 February
Shame: Louise Mensch’s social medium that was to rival – and, we were invited to infer, outstrip – Twitter has closed; she is now going to be an anti-fashion expert. The new boss of Barclays (it’s Anthony Jenkins) is trying to draw the proverbial line under his company’s litany of corruption and illegality, while elsewhere in the Barclays empire the company is encouraging temporary staff to help with the avoidance of national insurance contributions by being independent contractors. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development now says that tax avoidance [It’s clearly evasion. Ed] is a threat to democracy that has to be tackled as a matter of urgency. WADA is calling on the Premier League to increase – or, some might say, start – its commitment to drug testing in football. It seems that the film Catch 22, and more specifically Simon and Garfunkel’s respective roles in it, went a long way to breaking up Arty and Paul at the height of their powers; Art starred and stayed filming for six months, while Paul’s minor part hit the cutting room floor.
Wednesday 13 February
The final work from the pen of the late Maurice Sendack, author of Where the Wild Things Are, is published. Claims of assault by former pupils at Chethams school of music continue to emerge and it seems that one of Prince Charles’s charities successfully lobbied to have derogatory but accurate references to homeopathy removed from the NHS website. A group of experts with a vested interest in confirming the authenticity of the Isleworth Mona Lisa (named after the London suburb where it sat for a good long while before fetching up in Switzerland) confirm the authenticity of the Isleworth Mona Lisa. In Libya it seems that rugby is proving quite popular, having been banned by the Gaddafi regime for being – wait for it –a bit too violent. John Lewis, the current model of responsible capitalism, is feeling the squeeze too, announcing some redundancies from its store management structure; it seems that its online store is outstripping growth of its, er, offline retailing. In London’s Olympic Park we’re told that it is unlikely that things will be ready to host matches for the rugby world cup, which is scheduled for – wait for it – 2015. Andy Hunt announces that he is to leave his post as chief executive of the British Olympic Association.
Thursday 14 February
The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street in Mayfair will open its doors to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholic worshippers later this month, some 116 years after it refused Oscar Wilde’s request for a six-month retreat after his release from Reading gaol. In Scotland there is a new campaign to explain that King Macbeth was not quite the monster Shakespeare painted him to be. Around the world marches and demonstrations take place to celebrate One Billion Rising, a campaign to focus attention on violence against women. Snooker player Stephen Lee is told he has a case to answer in relation to allegations of match-fixing, while in South Africa some tough questions for Oscar Pistorius as his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, is shot dead at Pistorius’s house.
Friday 15 February
London fashion week kicks off, bringing glitz, glamour and very small catering budgets to venues across the capital. A sizeable meteor lands in Russia, bringing spectacular footage of bright lights and big bangs, and in Rwanda it seems cricket is taking a significant hold among young people. Chris Froome wraps up the Tour of Oman, the British Cycling rider’s first stage race title.
Saturday/Sunday 16/17 February
Now Donald Trump wants to build another golf course in Scotland, his other one having been such an uncontroversial success. Saracens play on their new artificial pitch and it all seems to go well. Topshop takes its London fashion week catwalk show to Tate Modern.
Monday 18 February
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges say that the UK’s obesity crisis is becoming ‘unresolvable’. The PM displays a passable forward defensive on the playing fields of Mumbai, while back in London a Banksy mural has been removed from the wall of a Poundland shop in Wood Green and shipped out of the country for sale; cue outraged locals. The International Association for the Study of Obesity says that the government is not doing enough to combat the food and drink industry’s impact on the health of the nation, while the National Obesity Forum says that the government “just isn’t interested”. Run for the shelves: the BBC is to screen a six-part adaptation of War and Peace. Richard Briers, venerable and celebrated actor, dies aged 79.
Tuesday 19 February
The prime minister responds to contrived outrage over a speech by author Hilary Mantel and demonstrates that he has either not read or not understood the text he describes as “misguided and wrong”. Elton John is trying to arrange for his musical mates to play in-store gigs as part of a campaign to preserve HMV. The bequest by the late Sir Denis Mahon of works of art worth £100 million to the Art Fund is dependent upon the works being displayed with free public access. Some 1,700 ‘skivers and scroungers’ (copyright HM Government) apply for eight job vacancies at a new branch of Costa in Nottingham, while in Australia the national governing body for swimming publishes an excoriating report on the team’s failings in the London Olympics.
Wednesday 20 February
In London the Brits celebrate the financial successes of the British music industry and in Edinburgh it seems their pandas may be getting fruity, or at least thinking about it. Official NHS figures show that the number of people hospitalised on the grounds of their obesity has increased three-fold in five years. In Minsk the revamped GB Cycling team open their campaign at the world track championships with some medals.
Thursday 21 February
The Office for Budget Responsibility suggests that the chancellor’s sums still do not add up, while the Commons public accounts committee says that the government’s Work Programme, which has cost between £3 billion and £5 billion, has been a spectacular failure. Mark Hamill may be about to don the mantle of Luke Skywalker once again. Success for British Cycling at the track world championships in Minsk, the first post-London 2012 test for post-podium pedalling and the first time the team has gone to a major competition without Dave Brailsford.
Friday 22 February
Caroline Douglas, head of the Arts Council Collection, says that changes to planning rules will make it impossible for artists to have studios and will damage the creative economy. Meanwhile, a survey of 26 English theatres suggests that short-term cuts are in danger of bringing profound damage to a multi-billion-pound industry. In Kenya street theatre has become one of the main tools in the drive for peace, while in Florida an auction house is bombarded with messages from north London that read: “We want our Banksy back.” Oscar Pistorius is bailed. Poonam Bhattal, a 13-year-old British girl on a school skiing trip in Italy, dies after falling from a ski lift. Roobarb and Custard cartoonist Bob Godfrey dies aged 91.
Saturday/Sunday 23/24 February
A report Sex and Power 2013: Who Runs Britain? reveals the dearth of women in senior positions across public life in the UK. Arts Council chair Peter Bazalgette says arts funding should be seen as investment rather than subsidy. It seems that all the British circus performers are going abroad and taking their circus jobs, so Circus Space is trying to find the best UK acts and keep them here. Paul Elliott steps down from his roles with UEFA and the FA after admitting sending a text using inappropriate language. Becky James is crowned the new queen of British track cycling with four medals, two of them gold, at the Worlds. Swansea win the League Cup, their first major trophy in their 100-year history.
Monday 25 February
And lo, a new David Bowie album is officially streamed online before it goes on sale; initial verdict offers relieved thumbs up all round. Sir Ranulph Fiennes abandons his latest expedition in light of yet more frostbite. Scholars have discovered 50 unseen Kipling poems and Paralympians are protesting about the removal of the disability living allowance, part of the government’s ongoing targeting of skivers and scroungers. In the US the new head of Yahoo has told all the company’s 11,000-plus staff that they will have to work from the office rather than remotely or at home.
Tuesday 26 February
Barcelona FC may well have used private investigators to keep tabs on its star players and someone has come up with the idea of recreating the Titanic as an ocean liner to ply its trade across the Atlantic, this time, it is hoped, with a return trip. Ronnie O’Sullivan is to return to competition at the snooker world championships after a good year off. Jess Ennis is preparing to pay her coach’s wages in light of the ongoing stand-off between Toni Minichiello and UK Athletics. The inquest into the death of cricket professional Tom Maynard seems to have lifted the lid on a drugs culture within the game. In Egypt one of the many tourist balloons crashes with fatal injuries for 18 passengers.
Wednesday 27 February
Bono says that he has, perhaps temporarily, retired from being a rock star in favour of activism. Talks between the Ambassador Theatre Group and the theatre staff union Bectu seem to be leading to strike action, while Morrissey’s comments on sexual politics demonstrates his ability to talk not only rot but utter rot. In Berlin property developers want to get rid of the last bits of the wall in pursuit of profit and are probably surprised by the protests. FIFA have issued worldwide bans to 74 Italians and South Koreans for match-fixing. And Twenty20 cricket is being talked up for the Olympics.
Thursday 28 February
Leaving the Vatican for the final time, the Pope travels by helicopter, no doubt well aware of the imagery used in the opening scenes of La Dolce Vita; he probably had shades on as well. A coalition of medical organisations call for urgent action on alcohol consumption in the UK. Lots of Olympians go to the palace to get more medals from Her Madge, while Kenneth Branagh’s return to the Shakespearian stage, at the Manchester International Festival, sells out in four minutes. In Spain theatre is taking place in tiny spaces, dubbed ‘microtheatre’, to get round the complex laws relating to theatres and the ongoing funding cuts.
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