It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it – or purr it, as the case may be

Hansom new 2008

Do not adjust your set

Farewell, then, Liz Truss. Your reign was brief and inglorious. Believe it or not but the former prime minister, not known as a natural communicator before her appointment and confirmed as much during it, was once offered a job in the PR game. My mole says she turned down the advance, made a few years ago by a well-known City PR firm, in order to pursue a career in politics. The PR industry’s gain was the country’s loss.

Slimmed down version

London QS Alinea held its annual drinks reception recently, this time at the Wagtail rooftop restaurant and bar which is, handily, a stone’s throw from the firm’s office on Cannon Street. On the way out, my scribe remarked how well stocked the food and drink was for guests. “Their fees must be doing OK,” he added. At which point, the veteran boss of one multidisciplinary, sighed: “They used to be three times as much 30 years ago.”

Oki dokey

To this year’s Building Awards, held in London earlier this month at the Grosvenor House Hotel, and a mole at Glen Howells Architects mentioned that he had once worked with incoming RIBA president Muyiwa Oki. “Be nice to the guys who are on their way up, because they’ll be there when you’re on your way down,” was his sage advice. Oki was a diligent worker, apparently, and just as interested in organisation as in design. Good job, too, as he’ll need those skills at his next gig.

At the launch of Build UK’s Open Doors initiative, pupils from two local colleges mostly stayed on message, until one, surveying the truly vast brownness of the site, mused: ‘Looks a bit dystopian, doesn’t it?’

This is the future

My hack endured all the limitations of the existing rail system to reach, ironically, an HS2 site in the Midlands. The reason for the visit was the launch of Build UK’s Open Doors 2023 initiative, giving Joe Public a view behind the hoardings. The event was a success, with pupils from two local colleges amazed by the enormous tunnel boring machines. In press interviews, the kids mostly stayed on message, until one, surveying the brown expanse of the Long Itchington Wood site, mused: “Looks a bit dystopian, doesn’t it?” An HS2 rep was quick to point out that the Midlands countryside would be returned to a greener state once the job was done. Whenever that may be.

Nothing if not original

On a tour of the newly completed Battersea Power Station redevelopment with architect Wilkinson Eyre, one of my team was told about a surprising discovery. While exploring the building when it was still a dilapidated ruin, a huge mural depicting the plant’s workers that looked like a 1930s original was found. Excited, the team wanted to give it pride of place in the restored building, only for Historic England to point out the discovered gem was knocked out in the 1990s for the 18th birthday party of the son of its then owner. Party poopers.

Walk, text and chew gum

Staying in SW11, my scribe was told Battersea’s landscape architect LDA Design needed to update its plans because of the proliferation of smartphones. Paths were reconfigured to stop pedestrians, who now rarely look where they are going and prefer to stare at a screen, from bumping into each other. The march of progress continues.

Computer says no

The first day of the public inquiry into M&S’s plans to knock down its Oxford Street store was marred by an over-zealous piece of technology. A robotic voice repeatedly interrupted proceedings at Westminster City Hall to announce an “unknown person” had just joined – or left – the livestream. “Can we mute that?” the exasperated planning inspector, eventually asked. “I’m afraid not,” he was told. I repeat: the march of progress continues.

Perhaps these teenagers could be tempted into learning about project visualisations to try to envisage HS2 when complete – as we all know that’s quite a way down the track.

Cool for cats

cat on reception desk

Visitors to Galliford Try’s head office in Uxbridge are greeted by the sight of a cat sat in a basket on the firm’s reception desk. He’s called Timone and has been coming in for a year from a houseboat moored at the nearby Grand Union canal. He gets turfed out only when the cleaners arrive at the end of the day which, judging by how snug he looks, must be a bit annoying.

Send any juicy industry gossip to Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom, who founded Building in 1843, at