Word reaches me of an interesting experience enjoyed by a worker on the roof of Eurostar's Waterloo International Terminal last week. It seems that, to prevent a passenger train pulling into the space below the area where it was working, glass protection firm Filmtek arranged for an empty train to be parked at the platform. This provided additional benefits for staff in the form of comfortable and convenient toilets. That is, until the night that it started moving while the operative in question was going about his business on board. Fortunately the chap had his mobile phone with him, which allowed him to contact the site's foreman and get a taxi to pick him up from the sidings some 30 miles away, where it eventually stopped.
Ray of sunshine
Ray O'Rourke, who won "personality of the year" at the Building Awards this week, has another side to his character – he likes a practical joke.
At a race day in Ascot last year, a collection of industry bigwigs were enjoying a fine day out in a hospitality box when two police officers arrived. The duo said they were looking for a Mr Benjamin Kelly, the omnipresent Sir Robert McAlpine director, whom they said they wanted to take away for questioning. Kelly was duly led, ashen-faced, out of the box – only to discover O'Rourke outside, convulsed with laughter, after setting up the bored officers to execute the sting.
Standing up to Thomas
Amec spin doctor Nick Welsh took prompt action when faced by Mark Thomas Channel 4's stunt comedian and scourge of capitalism. The funny-man was doing a piece on Amec's participation in the Yusufeli dam in Turkey. This involved rounding up some Kurds – who would be made homeless if the scheme went ahead – and paying a visit to the company headquarters. Welsh met the group armed only with a tray of tea and coffee to offer refreshment to the protesters.
Daze of thunder
My newsdesk colleagues were invited to celebrate Rick Willmott's debut as the chairman of Willmott Dixon at a go-karting event organised by the contractor. However, the event proved a bit of a bumpy ride for the new chairman. Willmott was paired up with Building news editor Phil Clark, and the bets were on for a new track record from the sporty duo. Instead, the pair limped in near the back to win the wooden spoon (or, to be precise, a broken steering wheel) after totting up more time penalties than the rest of the teams put together. Let's hope Willmott's not on performance-related pay.
It'll be indoor toilets next
Workers on building sites at Canary Wharf in London Docklands clearly have a taste for the finer things in life. Not content with the fare dished up in their site canteen, operatives have been flocking to the upmarket sandwich bars of the estate's shopping mall. However, Canary Wharf management clearly feels the workers lower the tone of the area – home to thousands of bankers, lawyers and media types – and last week banned anyone in site clothing from the mall. A letter circulated to all construction workers outlawed those wearing "unsuitable or soiled clothing (hard hats, high-visibility vests), using the benches and public seating, and leaving rubbish and litter in the public areas". Workers have kicked up a fuss, saying they feel like second-class citizens, but as a source from Canary Wharf Contractors told local freesheet The Wharf: "I don't know why they want to visit the mall anyway. Every site has its own canteen with Sky TV – what more do they want?"
Taxi for Bin Laden
Research body BRE hosted a top secret summit on tall buildings with the International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction this week at its offices in Watford. When a colleague of mine heard whispers of the conference, he phoned to reserve a place, only to be told that the press would not be admitted. The reason given was that some of the speakers would be discussing issues relating to tall buildings that could be of use to terrorists. However, any terrorist wishing to go along could have easily done so by downloading the registration form from the international council's website – which also included a handy location map and the telephone numbers of several local cab firms.
No, not that railway
There's an odd rumour doing the rounds at Railtrack that I simply refuse to believe. The story goes that when Stephen Byers put the rail body into administration last autumn, his officials hit the wrong part of the business. It had always seemed curious to some commentators that the administrators were called into Railtrack plc rather than its parent Railtrack Group. The limited company employs all the staff and owns all the track, but it is Railtrack Group that is listed on the stock exchange and controls both the property and safety sides of the business. So why did Byers' team send the administrators into the subsidiary rather than the more powerful parent? "Er, we think they just got them mixed up," mutters one bewildered Railtrack manager.
Rouse in baguette snub
CABE chief executive Jon Rouse was whisked to Paris recently to speak at a conference. However, the speaker preceding him over-ran, leaving Rouse with just a few minutes of his allotted time. Sure enough, he was on only his second slide when the French chair announced: "Sorry, it's lunchtime." Anxious not to miss their repas léger, the entire audience filed out of the room.