Is there really anything more to be said about last week’s fiasco at Heathrow’s T5? You bet there is. But it’s not all bad news and schadenfreude: we put on some light entertainment for you, too

Play it again, Stephen

Bravo to the chief executive of the Construction Confederation, Stephen Ratcliffe! For it was he who was to be recently found tinkling on the ivories in support of colleague Rachel Done. Not for a charity fundraiser or even a last-ditch attempt to gain entry to the BBC’s “I’d Do Anything” talent contest. No, Done was taking her grade one violin exam and needed someone to accompany her on piano. Ratcliffe (grade six in his day) stepped boldly into the breach and the exam was duly passed. Any takers for an encore …?

Credit: Scott Garrett

On a different plane

Of all the words used to describe the opening of the £4.3bn Terminal 5 at Heathrow, it’s unlikely many passengers came up with this one: masterclass. Yet that is precisely what a full-page ad taken out by main contractor Laing O’Rourke and client BAA proclaimed for the troubled terminal last Thursday. A similarly evangelical ad appeared in last weekend’s papers with the tagline: “Heathrow Terminal 5. From here you can see tomorrow”. So would that be the people waking up the next day on the terminal’s seats after their flight was cancelled, then?

More of the same, please

Still with T5, Laing O’Rourke also advertised in the national press to sing the praises of the “groundbreaking T5 agreement” under which M&E workers were paid generous sums in exchange for delivering the project on time. The plan worked, but the claim that the agreement was “a template for the future of construction” seems optimistic, as it has yet to be used on any other project. Even BAA has said it has no plans to use the full agreement on other schemes.

Getting a handle on it

And one more for good measure … One of the first victims of T5’s baggage-handling debacle was Nigel Hugill, chief executive of property developer Chelsfield. He was due to speak at the launch last week of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris’ colourful Westminster academy, which Chelsfield sponsored. But this was last Thursday, T5’s first day of operations, and Hugill was among the first to lose his bags. Among guests at the event were Graham Stirk and Ivan Harbour of T5’s architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. But they showed little sign of being abashed. “If we were paid for the detailed design of the baggage-handling system, it’d be working now,” snorted Harbour.

Making light work

Q: How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb? A: None – they never get past the feasibility study. Boom, boom. However, it seems the National Trust has come up with its own answer. They’ve recruited former BRE man Malcolm Anderson to help fit every light fixture in every one of their 300 properties with energy-saving bulbs. We can only hope poor he doesn’t have to change every single one of those chandelier light bulbs on his own …

Yes boss, right boss, straightaway boss

Pity the builders of Kier’s new three-storey office in the grounds of its country pile HQ at Tempsford Hall in Bedfordshire. The office of chief exec John Dodds is located in the same complex and he gets a good look at his employees in action every day. According to one source, the mud that gathers in the nearby car park doesn’t usually stay around for long. Perhaps the lucky Rok employees working on the house of chief exec Garvis Snook have drawn the shorter straw, though. He tells me he expects work to be finished soon. And I get the feeling he means it.