London's business districts fight the wars of the noses, builders hit the high seas, Farrell takes credit where it isn't due and questions of fashion are just so au courant
Fish in troubled waters
Expect an outbreak of hostilities between rival business zones Canary Wharf and the City of London, after the news that the former is planning a slew of skyscrapers and its very own CrossRail station (13 September, page 11).

City authority the Corporation of London is understandably jealous, but has an ace up its sleeve: fish. The corporation owns Billingsgate fish market, a sprawling shed right next to the Wharf's proposed towers. Any future expansion would mean building on the market – but the corporation has no plans to sell. That should keep the Canary in its cage – and its tenants holding their noses.

Hard hats to glad rags
Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake is emerging as official couturier to the UK construction industry. Strategic forum chairman Peter Rogers wears Miyake suits; Zaha Hadid, a fan of his Pleats Please range, was spotted spending £2000 in the shop recently. The latest convert is rising star Farshid Moussavi (left) of Foreign Office Architects, who wore a Miyake creation at the opening of the Venice Biennale last week. I'm told her dress, a fabulous silver-and-black affair resembling a spiky caterpillar, attracted more attention than the exhibits.

Rat race enthusiast
Elena Ochoa, the wife of Lord Foster, has revealed the secret of her 67-year-old husband's incredible energy: cross-country skiing. Each year, Foster competes in a 40 km ski marathon in Switzerland, where the couple have a home. "He's one of the best," says Ochoa proudly. "He's so fit."

Ochoa, a Spaniard, scotches rumours of Foster's imminent retirement, saying: "Va a morir con las botas puestas." Roughly translated, that means he'll keep working till he drops.

Now for a really tough job
I hear that Eddie McElhinney, the genial Irish boss of ceiling manufacturer SAS International, is thinking of jacking it all in. After building the company from nothing into a £125m-turnover giant, the entrepreneur tells me he now wants to do something more satisfying: teaching.

McElhinney plans to start lecturing at a London construction college, where he will try to persuade youngsters to enter the industry.

Now that's what I call leading by example. Hats off to you, sir – the industry needs more like you.

I thank you
After a decade and a half of relentlessly bad publicity, the royal family is having a bit of a annus mirablis. In particular, the golden jubilee pop concert in the palace grounds in June was a crowd pleaser.

So who is responsible for this turnaround in royal fortunes? Step forward, Sir Terry Farrell.

The iconoclastic architect recently proposed pulling down the palace walls and allowing the public into the Queen's private gardens; Farrell claims the concert was inspired by that idea.

"It wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been for me," he says.

A man of simple pleasures
Tough guy Ray O'Rourke was all smiles at the Laing O'Rourke summer party, held at the Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens last week. It was the firm's first bash since O'Rourke acquired Laing, and O'Rourke was in effusive mood, thanking the Laing staff for their hard work and describing the takeover as a "marriage".

But what did he think of the venue – a challengingly angular steel box by Japanese architect Toyo Ito? "I wouldn't know about this, I'm just a Paddy," he said self-deprecatingly. "I prefer a nice bit of fairface concrete."

Boots out
There's no pleasing some people. When BAA project manager Erica Lay wrote her controversial piece for Building about being a woman on site, she issued a plea for more female-friendly site gear. "I'm sick of tripping over my feet in huge boots and wearing 14 pairs of socks," she wrote.

Help arrived from Finnish reader Virpi Ekholm who, in last week's letters page, directed Erica to safety-boot specialist Sievi (

But it seems Erica had something more stylish in mind. "Thanks Virpi," she writes, "but have you seen the shoes? They wouldn't go with my suits …"

Rocking the boat

The Little Britain Challenge Cup regatta – the industry’s annual excuse to take to the water and, er, other liquids – took place with the usual antics last week at Cowes on the Isle of Wight. One of my colleagues who attended has asked me to extend thanks to the Killby and Gayford team for their hospitality. Unfortunately, during racing he was consigned to making tea and staying out of experienced crew members’ way. But he particularly enjoyed the rock numbers blasting from the team’s yacht at 3am after Saturday night’s festivities. One contractor was on such top form at a quayside post-sailing party, he kindly offered to undress in front of my colleague – but thankfully a quick-witted associate stepped in before it was too late.