This week we bring you tales from Cannes, where the annual MIPIM property fair produced the usual quota of incidents, injuries and precious moments
Free drinks? Couldn't possibly
I hear partying MIPIM™©® delegates felt the smack of firm government from the hand of organiser ReedMidem. A stern leaflet was circulated to delegates in the watering holes of Cannes warning them not to patronise events organised by gatecrashers who'd hadn't paid for exhibition passes. Unofficial parties on yachts and in bars are becoming almost as numerous as the ReedMidem-approved events. Naturally, the boozing execs shared the organiser's contempt for freeloaders.

To the death
Speaking of ReedMidem, do the organisers have some competition to worry about? I hear that there's a new conference organiser on the block, and it's hoping to steal some of MIPIM's business. The Property Trade Show 2003 is organised by AGComm Events, will take place on 21 and 22 May. The Chartered Institute of Building, English Partnerships, the RIBA and the RICS have already signed up, and Mike Nugent from AGComm reckons the show could be big.

"I'm not trying to replicate MIPIM and I don't think I could," he admits. "But I would like to see a totally British event, at a fraction of the cost of MIPIM. I feel the door is wide open [to make] a serious killing." So, expect a week of pork-pie-and-Stella-Artois-propelled madness under the pewter skies of sunny Torquay very soon …

Alas, poor AEDAS
Among many at this year's conference to suffer unhappy accidents while stone-cold sober (no, really) was AEDAS architect Andy Robson. The hapless designer was rushed to A&E with a bruised spine after falling off a yacht. He certainly seems to be accident-prone. A couple of weeks before, he had a close encounter with a circular saw while doing a spot of DIY. And he's not the only bruiser at AEDAS. Two months ago, at a "boys with toys" day at Donnington race track, the practice's Roger Ingel managed to spin his XKA Jag off the track, causing £10k of damage.

… and he hits the bar
Another person to feel sorry for this year is Arup director Steve Burrows. Burrows spent an afternoon and evening on the Arup Sunny Dream yacht in Cannes last week trying to entice people to the Morrison's Irish bar to watch his beloved Manchester United face Leeds. An army of Burrows' friends and colleagues made it, only to find him looking disconsolately at the Sky Sports teletext update that had replaced the big screen. Still, Steve did manage to console himself with a little something from behind the bar.

With one eye on the bill
It's good to see that at least one construction professional will have left Cannes this year with something to remember it by. A certain PR guru left the trendy Loft nightspot in the centre of town with a new accessory: a black eye. He acquired this after a dispute over a credit card and the price of a bottle of champagne led a barman to stretch over the counter and clout him one.

A special Scouser moment
The top brass from Manchester council were left dewy eyed at the Northwest Development Agency's dinner at MIPIM last week. Mancunian star sprinter Darren Campbell was recounting the magical moment when he won a silver medal at last year's Commonwealth Games when he suddenly announced that he would give the medal to the council to display. One man was heard saying in a Manchester accent that it was a "very emotional moment". Meanwhile, delegates from Liverpool were being sick in the corner.

Going big, in a small way

Architectural practices that were too small to afford the trip to Cannes banded together at their own annual conference in London last week. Entitled Small Practice: Big Future, the RIBA conference talked up the prospects for the small practices that make up nearly 60% of the country’s architectural firms. Incoming RIBA president George Ferguson and client Nick Snow of Kirkless council exhorted small practices not to charge fees that were too low, with Ferguson suggesting a target hourly rate of £100. Presumably, with fees like that, architects could skip the RIBA event next year and attend MIPIM instead.