Despite the downturn, construction is enjoying the lifestyle of a Scottish beauty queen, from getting up late for meetings to noshing down salmon mousse and paddling in a lake of brandy

Crossing a line

A colleague was on the phone to Crossrail to arrange to visit its Canary Wharf base. It was decided that the meeting should take place first thing on the agreed day. My colleague suggested nine o’clock as a reasonable time, but the press officer argued that 10 would be a safer bet, because “the Jubilee Line’s too risky”. A cynic with paranoid tendencies might suspect that Crossrail’s PR team were taking the chance to underline the case for new infrastructure – even though the Crossrail project team is packed with tunnellers who built the Canary Wharf section of the Jubilee Line Extension.

In the drink

Fresh from their exploits making buildings out of vodka jelly and creating alcoholic gas sculptures, “food artists” Bompas & Parr have revealed details of their latest project. They’ll be creating a bowl of punch that is so big that members of the public will be able to row boats in it. Inspired by an English admiral called Edward Russell who achieved something similar in 1694, B&P is teaming up with the boffins at University College London to find ways to keep the bowl hygienic enough to contain drinkable booze – and keep the precious liquid at the required temperature.

They are also launching a competition to design the cocktail that will fill the structure. So far all that is known for sure is that it will contain cognac (and by a startling coincidence, Courvoisier is sponsoring the stunt). Russell’s had small boys in a boat serving the drinks, who had to be relieved every quarter of an hour to avoid becoming drunk on the fumes. It’ll be interesting to see how 21st-century health and safety updates that requirement …

Fishy ending

Raising the Roof, a fundraising club for the construction and property industries, was launched in Bloomsbury last week. The aim of the venture is to raise £3m towards a neurosciences facility at Great Ormond Street hospital. A noble cause indeed – made all the more worthy by a personal guarantee from Jamie Hopkins, the scheme’s chairman and director of Chester Properties. Speaking at the launch, Hopkins said: “We know we have to give you something back from this – and I give my personal guarantee: there will be no sloppy salmon mousse in the Grosvenor House hotel.” Sighs of relief all round. For info on membership visit

Stunt? What stunt?

We hear Katherine Brown, aka Miss Scotland, has visited a building site in Inverness. Why? Well, according to a press release from PR masterminds at Beattie Communications, the purpose was “to check progress on a luxury hotel development being built by Robertson Highland”. But, strange to relate, a trawl of the internet for the beauty queen’s vital stats – purely for the purposes of professional research – produced no evidence that she had any construction qualifications. Lest anyone think this was a shameless publicity stunt, the press release helpfully explains that “someone like Katherine is used to visiting luxury hotels all over the world, so it made sense that she was on site to view the progress of the work to date”. Further corroboration: at the time of writing,

Miss Scotland was poised to “jet off to London and then New York”. Well, that’s alright, then.

Drawing conclusions

Sunand Prasad marked the end of his time as RIBA president with an emotional farewell speech last week. At one stage he seemed overcome by the support he’d received from his family, colleagues and particularly from his architectural partner Greg Penoyre. However, one of his proudest achievements, he said, was that he managed to “defeat the cartoonists” during his tenure. He didn’t give more away, but surely this wasn’t a reference to Building’s representation of him in our interview last week? Should we have one more go?