This week, the irrepressible glamour of the Building Awards, old habits die hard for 'designer' Uri Geller and the legal definition of torture
A sterling stand-in
My thanks must go to radio presenter Nicky Campbell for stepping in at such late notice to host last week's Building Awards in place of the Sir Trevor McDonald. The kilted Scotsman seemed to have enjoyed himself. Hosting his Radio 5 programme the morning afterwards, Campbell took time between grilling politicians and updating us on the war on Iraq to mention his extracurricular activities of the night before. "It was quite a good do," was the silver-tongued presenter's praise.

Half man, half pussy cat
UCATT general secretary George Brumwell certainly responded very well to winning the award for Personality of the Year. Brumwell told guests on his table that the victory meant his hard man credibility was ruined. How was he going to explain his popularity with the leading employers who judged the award? Brumwell apparently added that he had convinced himself that he would not win, so as not to be too disappointed if he didn't. "After all," he said, "the last time I won an award was in 1949 for good attendance at my Sunday school." Bless.

Pyramid selling scheme
Away from the glitz of the awards ceremony, a colleague of mine was at a star-spangled conservatory launch. Ultraframe asked Uri Geller to design a conservatory to show off its latest roofing system, and the end result has just gone on show in the back garden of Geller's mansion in Sonning, near Reading. Geller once lived next door to IM Pei in New York and appears to have borrowed more than a cup of sugar from the architect of the Louvre's pyramid (see pictures).

Geller says pyramids contain spiritual powers. Put a blunt razor blade in one, he says, and it will sharpen up, while apples will decay less quickly. He is aiming to market his design later in the year, in aid of charity. The retail price could be about £75,000 – but it would save buyers a fortune in razor blades and fruit.

A compulsive bender
Meanwhile, Geller was heard saying: "I'm so glad I don't have to bend a spoon" when unveiling his design in a presentation to promoted himself as a serious artist, sculptor and designer – his credits have included CD designs for chum Michael Jackson. But half an hour later, the showman was slipping a spoon to an unsuspecting member of the audience so that it could be produced for a "spontaneous" bending session in which he also rendered a journalist's door key unusable.

Cruel, but not unusual

I can now reveal the tactic used by the legal profession to encourage its construction clients to settle out of court. Essentially, it’s the threat of extreme physical discomfort – the kind of thing hawks in the Bush administration call “torture lite”. The site of this cruelty is the Technology and Construction Court, where the heat and poor ventilation in certain courtrooms doubles the agony of sitting through weeks of tortuous legal arguments. As a friend at solicitor Fenwick Elliott told me: “One of my clients has a case coming up in a dreadful courtroom with no windows, which should make them very keen to reach a settlement.”