Chance favours the prepared mind, which is bad news for Grant Shapps, Chris Cheshire, the RIBA press office and the government of the UK – and very good news for a certain consultant

Pack it in
It’s fair to say that the introduction of home information packs hasn’t been one of this government’s unalloyed successes. The initiative has managed to upset everyone connected with them, even moving the august RICS into threatening something as vulgar as legal action. But is there really anything to worry about? Countryside Properties tells me it has prepared more than 1,000 of the things. And how many buyers have actually expressed an interest in reading theirs? The answer, it seems, is 15.

Colloquial Italian for east Londoners
Chris Cheshire, the boss of social housing repair and maintenance group Kinetics, freely admits he would love to be on the board of West Ham. He currently has a box at the stadium and took the opportunity before last Wednesday’s match with Birmingham City to curry favour with manager Gianfranco Zola, whom he ran into before the game. Zola’s large pay cut had been announced in the press a few days earlier, so Chris “gave him some encouragement” in his best Italian. Did it work? “Er, he kind of gave me this look that said vaffanculo”. Clearly restoring the great man’s salary is task number one if you do make it onto the board, Chris.

The little things that count
Lesson of the recession, number 137: go to any extreme to flatter a potential client. Many firms have been learning the hard way that it can be the small things that matter when you’re trying to win business these days. The latest example to reach me is from a consultant that pitched for a Nokia contract. It ensured that all of the bid team had Nokia phones on the table during the pitch to avoid upsetting the Finnish client. At least it’d mean they weren’t sitting there checking their BlackBerries, which seems to be what happens in most meetings I attend these days …

Scale mail

Grant Shapps, the shadow housing minister, has managed to embarrass the government with some shrewd written questions of late. Keen to continue his good work, he recently wrote to John Healey, the housing minister, demanding to know what percentage of domestic energy certificates have had an energy rating of “more than 450”. Well the answer to that is none at all, because the A-G scale is based on a score of 1-100. Do parliamentary expenses not pay for researchers any more?

The peace of Pei
Architects’ propensity for self-aggrandisement appeared to reach new heights last week, when we were sent a press notice from the RIBA about a ceremony to honour the great Chinese-born architect IM Pei. “Attached is a photograph of IM Pei wearing the Royal God Medal which will be officially presented to him tomorrow evening”, wrote the press officer. Now, I’m as much a fan of the Louvre pyramid as anyone, but surely deification is a step too far?

Life in Technophobia
The government last week promised £60m to those councils pushing ahead with eco-towns. The release excitedly sold the technology of the new homes to prospective residents – smart meters, water recycling systems, renewable energy technologies, super-insulated buildings. Strange, then, that this release came out in the same week that research from the Zero-Carbon Hub, the body charged with getting housebuilders to build zero-carbon dwellings, said a high-tech vision of the green future would turn potential consumers off new homes. Funnily enough, they’ve noticed that most people don’t want the largest investment they make in their life to be on the bleeding edge of new technology. Can someone please tell the communities department?