Sport: Misnomers, sunken launches and rank stupidity

HE WAS a nice man. A very very nice man. And he was telling me all about the investment which had turned his family business into one of the country's leading leisure resorts.

Seventy-five years earlier his great-grandfather, Herbert Potter, had established Britain's first holiday camp. But that, he explained with a darkening countenance, was then, and this was now. In recent years, he added, they'd built a theatre, a gym and an indoor bowling venue. Work had started on the construction of a hotel. So they were, absolutely and definitively, not running a holiday camp. They were running a leisure centre, and any idea that it was still a holiday camp, just because it had coachloads of holidaymakers arriving, was very wide of the mark and unwelcome. So no references to holiday camps please.

Hosting the World Bowls Championships last month was perceived by all at Potter's Leisure Resort as another step towards the bright new dawn. It was unfortunate that Steve Rider, introducing BBC TV coverage of the event, should mention the "h" and "c" words.

It was also unfortunate that one paper - this one, actually - should employ the phrase "Hi-di-hi" in a headline.

But then, what did they really expect? And what's wrong with being a holiday camp? As a small exercise in attempted news management, this was not an outstanding success. But then it is a tricky area.

A few years ago, in an effort to revamp its fading image and appeal to the young, the British Athletic Federation (now deceased) held a press launch - on a river launch.

As we bobbed on the Thames, the new scheme was explained to us. It was a ranking system, sponsored by TSB bank, which would evaluate athletic performances on an overall points basis, to create a picture of who were the best British athletes in absolute terms.

Hungarian scoring tables, of the type used to convert decathlon performances into points, were to be employed. It was an anorak's wet dream, but as a torch-lighting new venture... well, doubts were swiftly expressed.

The smile on the face of the BAF's executive chairman, Professor Peter Radford, became strained. He turned to the man on his left, Roger Black, observing with some levity that, as things stood, Black was only Britain's second-best 400 metres runner and was trailing well behind some of the hurdlers and javelin throwers - in absolute terms, of course.

Presumably, Black was then expected to say how he would redouble his efforts in order to see his name rise proudly up the TSB rankings. Black, however, was not amused. His response was brief and, for the purposes of the bright new dawn, unhelpful. Stick it up your rankings, in effect.

What, someone then asked, was the structure of prize money for this new scheme? It was explained that there was no prize money. As such. At all. At which point the TSB rankings launch, already holed below the waterline, became dead in the water.

Among other doomed launches I cherish in my memory was the techno-music fashion show put on in the stupendously unsuitable setting of Bisham Abbey to publicise England team kit and leisurewear spin-offs for the 1994 World Cup finals. Which, as you may recall, England failed to reach.

When I recall the bright young things gyrating under the ancient beams in their bright young things - manufactured courtesy of Far East sweated labour - I almost feel glad England didn't make it.

Alongside misconceived initiatives, doomed attempts at setting the media agenda figure prominently in my own personal ranking list.

Graeme Le Saux's scornful defiance of a five-minute interview limit imposed during a Chelsea press conference before last season's Littlewoods Cup final, raised him high in the estimation of myself and a number of colleagues present.

Strenuous, and fruitless, efforts were also made in an attempt to stop questioners looking beyond the weekend's final to the European Cup-Winners' Cup final the next week. But, for wishful thinking, you couldn't beat the US Olympic Committee, which set up a press conference with ice skater Tonya Harding before the 1994 Winter Games with the proviso that no questions were to be asked about her alleged role in a pre-Games hammer attack that left her rival, Nancy Kerrigan, with an injured knee. It was like expecting Basil Fawlty not to mention the war.

In preparation for the expected media onslaught, someone had provided Harding with a standard response: "That is not an appropriate question." Glory be, it was as an umbrella in the face of a tidal wave.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing