While Ramboll plays the Fool, some builders get into dangerous liaisons, a Gleeds boss plays the tortured hero contemplating his own demise and the press are heckled from the wings

The agony of choice

The gloom among QSs has reached new lows, it seems. Gleeds boss Richard Steer quipped to a colleague recently that the clearest sign yet of the severity of the recession was UK consultants considering a move to Iraq. “If you had asked me two years ago whether I would go to Iraq I would have said ‘you must be joking’.”

Not so now though, given business secretary Peter Mandelson’s push to get British firms to help reconstruct the troubled country. More worryingly, Steer added that the choice really boiled down to “getting killed over there or staying here and killing yourself”. A touch of black humour, we hope.

These foolish things

Ramboll Whitbybird became Ramboll UK last week, in an apparently seamless rebrand to highlight the firm’s close ties to its Danish parent company. But my spies tell me something of a cultural divide appeared when the European team revealed the date earmarked for the launch – 1 April. To avoid the Whitbybird crew looking like the authors of a hugely confusing practical joke, the launch was nudged back to the 6th. Not quite sure where the hilarity would lie in a rebrand, but anyway …

GSOH and own JCB

We know that partnering has fallen out of favour with the construction industry during the recession, but this bit of gossip takes it to a whole new level. The good folks at illicitencounters.com have noted a stiff surge in extra-marital nookie as the economy worsens. Yes, the “married dating” website has notified us of a huge increase in married builders, architects and developers signing up to meet fellow adulterers who are, as the firm puts it, “seeking erections of a less industrial nature”. The firm says no fewer than 8,000 construction professionals now use the site. Whatever would Sir John Egan say?

Left in the lunch

As you are no doubt aware, the recession has been hitting the construction industry in all sorts of painful places. However, a lesser-reported effect is the impact on lunch meetings. One of my colleagues, arranging a chat with a housing industry chief executive, booked a table at the Flaneur restaurant in Farringdon two days before the appointed meeting. Upon arrival it turned out the eatery had gone bust and closed its doors, leaving staff without work, and the hack and contact without a bread roll between them.

Just not cricket

A roomful of construction professionals were bowled over by former England cricket captain Mike Gatting at the Pinders Healthcare Design Awards last week, to which Building was invited by Bupa.

Gatting was challenged to a game of cricket by the event organisers and gamely accepted. Those wondering how the great man would fare on the pitch were left clueless. Even though the event took place at Lord’s, Gatting took guard on, er, a Nintendo Wii. Now I know the game has to adapt, but this is getting ridiculous …

No news is good news

It’s a tough time to be in PR. Over a lunch in the swish Mandarin Oriental to celebrate the launch of a new £50m brick factory, a senior communications man at aggregates manufacturer Hanson was complaining to a colleague about the obsessive media focus on job losses, usually to the detriment of more positive news. Although we have nothing but sympathy with his plight, we feel that the timing might have been slightly better: Patrick O’Shea, Hanson’s UK chief executive, admitted just minutes before that 2,000 employees, or 30% of his workforce, had been dismissed since the beginning of the downturn.