All talk and no trousers

Lockdown – well, when it seemed to be befitting of the word – has meant many people working from home. And, as the lockdown sun continues to blaze, most have ditched suits and have been padding around in shorts, T-shirts, dresses – anything cool, really. The co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, Andy Mitchell, is no different. Rehearsing for a CLC webinar hosted by Building last month, he joshed with one of my team that he’s not been in trousers since lockdown began. I myself have been wearing belted shorts and socks teamed with sandals.

Hansom new 2008

In the top flight

As others rein in non-critical expenditure, Laing O’Rourke has raised some eyebrows by splashing the cash with a series of full-page newspaper adverts in the Sunday Times. Whether they’ve paid rate-card, as the ad guys say, we’ll never know but I see that one of the ads focused on the firm’s capabilities in transport infrastructure. Included was a reference to airports – a surprise to some, maybe, given the dire straits the aviation industry is in right now.

Raising the standard

Also making the same webinar was Build UK chief executive Suzannah Nichol, who appeared to be in her back garden when the event was streamed live. I couldn’t help but notice what seemed to be a flagpole in the background. I wonder if that’s to run up the Build UK colours every day?

The chair of the Construction Leadership Council, Andy Mitchell, rehearsing for a CLC webinar hosted by Building last month, joshed with one of my team that he’s not been in trousers since lockdown began

We don’t need no education

I was delighted to see those folk at Wates coming up with a Nightingale-style plan to get schools back to teaching kids. Millions of schoolchildren remain locked out of school, probably until September, because schools aren’t big enough to accommodate all returning pupils in the new normal. Wates reckons it can turn empty council-owned property into temporary classrooms in a matter of weeks. Seems like a good idea to me. What does the Department for Education say? “Currently there are no plans for new school estates beyond what is needed to deal with population increase and migration,” a spokesperson said last month. Since then it has pledged £1bn to build new schools, welcome I am sure but that is over a 10-year period. The new school term starts in less than three months.

Reasons to be cheerful

The Arb, the group architects by law are required to register with, lost both its chief executive and chair within a matter of days recently. It’s not hugely popular among architects, mainly because it takes a registration fee from them. Reacting to the news about the departures, long-time Arb critic and former board member Ian Salisbury said it looked like the regulator was “on the verge of imploding”. It wasn’t clear if he was dancing up and down at the time.

The end of the affair

Meanwhile, the president of rival professional body RIBA has been forced to issue a public apology to members for his conduct, following revelations of an affair with a struggling would-be architect. It’s fair to say that Alan Jones probably didn’t expect to be writing “the relationship became close for some months” in a mea culpa letter to thousands of members less than a year into his post …

Signs of the times

Sign makers are being kept busy by the covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of new ones, warning people to maintain social distancing, wash their hands and wear masks have been sprouting up across sites up and down the country – all competing with the more traditional signs, of course. Take this Northern line extension job in Kennington, south London. More than a dozen signs – and that’s before you get to security. Still, pretty useful for testing your eyesight, don’t you think?


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