A world in which property developers still offer their coats to damsels in distress, a knight of the realm remembers how to behave appropriately, and an architectural practice whisks its staff off to Paris

Sun sets on Waterloo

A heartwarming tale from the Grimshaw offices. Ten of the firm’s partners travelled together on one of the last Eurostars to leave the south London station that established their practice’s reputation. Not to be too elitist, the firm then ran a lottery for 10 other members of staff to travel out on the very last Waterloo train, spend a boozy night in Paris and return to the new station at St Pancras. Sic transit Grimshawia …

Basques in France

Global warming is obviously a tricky thing – when thousands of participants flooded into Cannes for retail property event Mapic last week it was snowing. Who’d have thought that gloves and scarves would be on the French resort’s what-to-wear list instead of low-cut evening frocks?

The only ones brave enough to bare some skin were the charming ladies from lingerie company Triumph, who opened the awards ceremony. Luckily, there were plenty of gentlemen willing to lend them their coats afterwards …

Yvette Cooper’s u-turn

The O2 dome has had its critics, but surely one thing in its favour is that it’s easy to find. That is, unless you’re a government minister. After arriving 15 minutes late to English Partnerships’ annual open meeting, Yvette Cooper confessed: “We circled the dome a number of times attempting to find the front door … It’s slightly embarrassing when you’re the planning minister.”

Credit: Scott Garrett

The other Mr Ratcliffe

Ever since William Shakespeare first got a man to dress up as a woman, British humour has revelled in cases of mistaken identity, but could it be that the Germans are starting to get the joke too? Construction Confederation boss Stephen Ratcliffe was well placed to resolve this crucial diplomatic issue the other week when he was in Berlin to speak (in German) at an industry conference. The German TV presenter who was hosting the event introduced Mr Ratcliffe by saying: “My daughter was rather disappointed when she discovered he wasn’t Harry Potter.”

Conspicuous by his absence

It is good to know that, while masterminding his pursuit of Alfred McAlpine, John McDonough, Carillion’s chief executive, still finds time to relax. Almost three weeks of time, to be precise. Despite the fact that his firm’s accountants are spending many a late night with McAlpine’s books ahead of the £600m deal, McDonough has been on holiday and incommunicado. Or perhaps this is simply a convenient way of throwing us hacks off the scent …

Put it away, Sir Michael

The construction industry has not always been known for its generous attitude to women, but the guest speaker at the British Expertise Awards last week seemed to have taken extreme attempts to redress the situation.

“It has been laid down that I am the most powerful rod in the land,” boomed the gentleman in question, “so I have been asked to come up here and expose myself.” Thankfully for the female members of the audience, the speaker – Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks – was referring to no more controversial an appendage than his job title in the House of Lords: Black Rod.