Some speakers can witter on for hours, while others can barely fill two minutes. To avoid a poor score on the snore-o-meter, a thrilling encounter with global infrastructure can come in handy

Brief encounter
Ed Vaizey’s appointment as architecture minister may have been the shortest in British history, but at least he gave the sector the benefit of his full knowledge during the 48 hours he was in charge. Speaking ahead of the RIBA Trust annual lecture last week, given by Kevin McCloud, Vaizey made a two-minute address, the gist of which was: “I agree with what it says on Kevin’s website.” This, it seems, was the distilled essence of six years spent shadowing the architecture brief. No doubt the industry will be hoping that John Penrose, the latest incumbent, has a bit more to say on the subject.

Better the devil you know
One body that will be sorry about Vaizey’s rapid reshuffle by the powers that be in the culture department is Cabe. Vaizey was publicly supportive of the design quango, and was known to oppose plans to strip it of its funding. So can we infer from the fact that the body’s budget was cut by almost a third this week that Penrose’s views on the topic are less sympathetic?

Sweet dreams
I gather the organisers of BRE’s annual conference were left in no doubt over which were the most interesting presentations at the event. The first speaker was Ian Pearson,who describes himself as a full-time futurologist and inventor of text messages. He barely had time to open his mouth before sounds of snoring rose in the auditorium, prompting much tutting and turning of heads. The second speaker was economist Richard O’Brien, who spoke about our economic future in complete silence. The snoring then resumed as Christophe Egret, of architect Studio Egret West, gave his views on the quality of the public realm. We are keeping the identity of the sleepy delegate secret, other than to say he has written for Building and is a conference regular. So if you are planning to hold one yourself, you might want to make sure you have a rivetting programme planned.

Tomorrow never comes
Chatting to a Mott MacDonald engineer at a conference last week, it became clear that not everyone is toeing the sustainability line. As the wine flowed, the conversation took a meandering path through labour exploitation, car repairs and how a masterplan should fit on the back of a fag packet. Then he got round to global warming: “I don’t care, because I won’t be here then.” Here’s hoping Mott MacDonald’s projects aren’t built to the same principles.

The neverending journey
Building’s inaugural Global Infrastructure Forum attracted delegates from far and wide and there was much talk of how all there had escaped the ash. However, special mention must go to José Domingo Arias, the vice-minister for foreign trade from the Republic of Panama. On his flight to London a passenger was taken ill, forcing an emergency landing, and the flight, which normally takes a mere 13 hours, turned into a gruelling day-long ordeal. Full credit to Arias, who still made it to London on time and looking surprisingly fresh on stage. Less credit, though, goes to this particular bit of the globe’s infrastructure.

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