The threat of war with Iraq is causing a strange realignment of the industry's political sympathies. Richard Rogers, who a few years ago sipped champagne at Tony Blair's reception for architecture's great and good, is now a leading anti-war protester. Rogers took out a whole page in last Friday's Guardian to advertise his opposition, and fellow architects David Adjaye and Zaha Hadid were among those who signed the protest. Over the weekend, he risked further friction with his Labour friends when he wrote an article headlined "If Tony Blair is so sure … why can't he put this war to parliament?" What's more, it appeared in that bastion of right-thinking little England, the Mail on Sunday.
Taking the Michael
After all the scandals over drug-taking, point docking and match fixing, cricket has been hit by another disaster: only this time it's happened to Mike Gatting, the former England captain. You may remember my revelation last year that the pugnacious Henry VIII-lookalike was applying for permission to demolish his family home in Enfield, north London, and turn it into a block of flats. Unfortunately he has been caught out by planners, who've ruled that the development would be out of keeping with the area. Gatt is now appealing against the decision.
The view from a lead balloon
Stef Stefanou, boss of concrete contractor John Doyle, tried his best to reveal the delights of construction to schoolchildren in Leeds this month. Stefanou tried to relax his audience by telling them how the Channel Tunnel was dug. It seems that the French started at one end and the English at the other. If they met, all well and good; if they didn't, then you'd get two for the price of one. The audience digested this insight into civil engineering in silence, until Stefanou informed them that it was a joke, at which point they burst into laughter.
What's wrong with Gordon?
There seems to be some confusion among architects over who owns the the name Bennett. I hear that commercial practice TP Bennett is rebranding itself as (wait for it) Bennett's. This may cause some concern for eco-specialist Bennetts Associates. A misplaced apostrophe could result in clients commissioning the wrong firm. You decide: innocent coincidence or cunning marketing strategy?
Child of the revolution
There was a good turnout for the Electrical Contractors Association annual dinner last week. Speakers included Cabinet minister Charles Clarke, who was most apologetic for failing to attend in black tie. He made up for his sartorial solecism by delivering a passionate speech on training. The crowd was then entertained by Irish funny-man Adrian Walsh, who noticed the similarity between the top table of luminaries and a Soviet Politburo. He then observed that Paul Corby, national construction officer at union Amicus, was probably "Lenin's lovechild". Whatever could he mean?