Whether it be talking to method actors at a corporate function, duetting with Chris de Burgh in a Parisian bar, or simply mistaking your host company for one of its biggest rivals, they’re all here …

The tea lady is not what she appears …

The launch of Feilden Clegg Bradley Architects’ new name, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, was a chaotic affair, with the evening’s entertainment lending the event the surreal atmosphere of a dream. The Bath-based Natural Theatre Company had been hired to mingle with the crowds, dressed as bad waiters, psychotic tea ladies and officious health and safety inspectors. I feel most sorry for the firm’s Bath contingent – they were trapped on the same bus as the actors all the way back to the West Country.

One developer is much like another

Davis Langdon may be one of the most popular cost consultants around, but surely it can’t afford to annoy the country’s largest developer? Barry Nugent, its sustainability guru, risked doing just that at a swanky Land Securities bash, while presenting his analysis of Land Secs’ flagship efficiency drive. “I am pleased to be talking to Stanhope today,” he began, before realising he had referred to the wrong developer. My mole tells me you could hear a pin drop before Nugent corrected himself. At least we know to watch out for an efficiency drive from Stanhope soon.

Willmott Dixon goes commando

We may be bombarded daily with tales of our prisons bursting at the seams, but if Willmott Dixon has its way those seams will hold. As part of its prison-building programme, the contractor has called in the SAS to make sure its cells are escape-proof. Apparently the acid test is that if two soldiers cannot escape from a cell within 20 minutes it is deemed secure. Let’s just hope that nobody from the SAS ends up in the slammer …

Credit: Scott Garrett

Murky goings on in Midtown

Tales of sabotage reach me from the mean streets of Midtown – or Holborn as it’s known to anybody outside the property fraternity. Davis Langdon took the audacious step of advertising at Chancery Lane tube station, presumably in the hope of attracting staff from nearby Cyril Sweett or WSP – or maybe tourists who mistake it for a West End musical. But no sooner had the posters gone up than someone had defaced them. Who could be to blame? One top exec at a rival firm admits he may have inadvertently ordered the hit, but he swears it was a throwaway comment, not meant to be taken seriously. At all.

The English guide to winning

For anyone dispirited by England’s sporting travails over the past week or two, here’s a joke that is very popular at Balfour Beatty at the moment. “An Englishman, a Frenchman and a German are debating how to ensure swimming records are broken at the Olympics. ‘Why not build it downhill?’, suggests the Frenchman. ‘Make the swimming suits more aerodynamic,’ pipes up the German. The Englishman thinks a while, then says: ‘Why not just make it shorter?’ It is, of course, coincidental that UK contractor Balfour Beatty is the sole remaining bidder to build the 2012 aquatics centre, after German company Hochtief and French firm Eiffel both pulled out.

Sweet serenade

Speaking of Eiffel, a Welsh employee of Laing O’Rourke was in Paris a few weeks ago enjoying the sights, one of which was an attractive waitress dressed in red. As you would, he launched into a rendition of Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red, which was quickly followed by a complaint from another customer. The irate guest moaned that the Welshman was “murdering my song” and had “put me off my champagne”. The complainant was none other than de Burgh himself, who spent the next half hour in an impromptu singalong at the Laing O’Rourke table.