Gossip from UKREiiF, Mark Farmer makes a faux paus and why you should look out for ’mini-Morphs’

Hansom new 2008

Spot the Morph

This summer a free public art trail and tourist attraction is coming to the capital called Morph’s Epic Art Adventure in London. Billed as the UK’s first step-free art trail of its kind, it is the brainchild of Whizz‑Kidz, a UK charity for young wheelchair users. Up to 70 super-sized sculptures of children’s TV character Morph will be dotted near London landmarks, along with a series of “mini Morph” sculptures created by schools being displayed in places like 22 Bishopsgate and 80 Fenchurch Street, home of Arcadis. It runs from next Monday until 20 August. Happy spotting!

The vanishing

Rather ironic that in a recent press blurb detailing the rollcall of firms for this year’s RIBA West Midlands Award winners, a scheme called Hidden House was missed out. It seems the Herefordshire scheme has been living up to its name. The mistake was later rectified but the gift was given.

Any old iron

Plans have gone in for a spruce-up of Buckingham Palace which includes new switch and socket plates, light fittings and getting rid of “historic radiators”. That reminds me, I need to look at my own historic radiators, but I doubt I require listed building consent to chuck them in the skip.

Lord Dominic Johnson gave an entertaining if rambling speech. Ostensibly about human interaction, he told a rather bizarre anecdote about his wife’s electronic pet, Juan, of whom he said she had grown too fond

Cannes canned

I sent my hack to check out the second annual UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum conference in Leeds last month. Mipim in Cannes it is not, although there was an impressive 7,000-plus turnout. Perhaps no surprise that the public sector was much better represented at the event – no tricky headlines about council leaders on jollies to the south of France – but from what my scribe told me, UK private firms could be ditching the Côte d’Azur for West Yorkshire too. One PR told my scribe that she tells almost all her clients not to go to Cannes these days. “I’ve seen all sorts over there,” she says, shaking her head. “You know it’s never going to end well.”

Pet project

The conference was introduced with a keynote speech from investment minister Lord Dominic Johnson, who gave an entertaining if rambling speech. Ostensibly about human interaction, he told a rather bizarre anecdote about his wife’s electronic pet, Juan, of whom he said she had grown too fond. The story culminated with the minister asking the audience of nervously laughing real estate bods whether or not he should “kill Juan”. Who says the government is out of ideas?

Don’t mention the Armada

Public speaking shouldn’t be full of pitfalls as long as you think carefully about who the audience is. Cast founder Mark Farmer revealed last week he’d made an embarrassing faux pas while giving a presentation at a recent event overseas. Speaking at a bash for comms agency Liz Male Consulting, the Modernise or Die author reminisced about a speech he gave comparing the industry to a painting depicting the rout of the Spanish Armada, with ships going in different directions and some sinking. He used a slide to illustrate the point to… his Spanish audience. “I didn’t remember to change the slide,” he winced. A quick joke about how Anglo-Spanish relations have improved since helped spare his blushes further

Nice work – if you can get it

I felt compelled to have a look at the annual wage bill of Manchester City, following the news that talks between the club and Laing O’Rourke are off after the pair failed to agree a price over how much extending the Premier League champions’ ground would cost. You know the drill: the contractor was no doubt asking for far too much. Of course it was! Anyway, Google tells me City’s wage bill in 2021/22 was £353m. I’ll leave it there.

Young trailblazers


Committed readers – those who have made it down here – will remember the rather nice tale about the public art trail involving children’s TV character Morph. This sculpture was spotted in 80 Fenchurch Street and was created by Wrexham School. It’s called Meta-MORPH-osis. Says the school: “Our design was inspired by inclusivity and anything that you dream of.” Amen.

Send any juicy industry gossip to Mr Joseph Aloysius Hansom, who founded Building in 1843, at hansom@building.co.uk