on the victims of a fashion accident, two substantial industry figures having an image crisis, and the Building Control inspectors with second sight
How's this for joined-up government? Education secretary Charles Clarke and skills minister Ivan Lewis sang a cappella hymn of praise for the Construction Industry Training Council at last week's launch of ConstructionSkills (see the news story on page 13 for more on this). Backslaps all round for, among others, CITB chairman Sir Michael Latham. This runs rather counter to John Prescott's tirade against the CITB last spring, in which he berated it for failing to train enough people for the industry. Latham promptly fired off a letter to Prescott requesting a meeting with the cuddly second-in-command, but has yet to receive a reply.

Heavyweight title
The deputy prime minister is clearly worried about his image. Last week, architectural watchdog CABE launched its Waste of Space initiative to highlight the desperate state of urban areas in England and Wales. However, the name of the initiative had to be changed before the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister would give the scheme its backing. Apparently, Prescott was concerned that it might be construed as a reference to him and his department. Rather than cause a diplomatic incident. CABE changed the initiative's name to Wasted Space. Now that's much better, isn't it?

How not to get plastered
I was a little disturbed to receive this photograph of Ashe Construction's site managers with legs covered in what I took to be plaster of Paris.

Odd, I thought, to send out a publicity shot of accident victims. I couldn't have been more wrong: the accompanying press release explains that Nick Bruce and Russell Scott donned a pair of paper knickers before allowing themselves to be coated in hot paraffin wax as part of a detox for charity event. Returning to the safety theme, though, I was heartened to see the lads kept their hard hats on throughout.

Alsop's foibles …
During Will Alsop's first appearance in the Channel 4 series Supercities last week, the architect with the penchant for pods delivered his opinion on a rather different architectural form: the industrial shed. Driving past a business park, he made a remark that is unlikely to endear him to developers of these utilitarian structures: "Those buildings are what is called B1 offices – that's a planning term, but in actual fact it means they are always crap," he opined.

… with a twist in the tale
Speaking of cruel architectural critiques, Alsop had the tables turned on him by AA Gill, the television critic for The Sunday Times, who described him as if he were an architectural concept: "A huge, sprawling, ovoid structure, precariously cantilevered into a black T-shirt with a shiny, dissipated face and sad middle-aged-and-still-a-youngster hair." Ouch.

Crystal gazing

I have been contacted by a reader with an interesting insight into the sophisticated methods employed by Building Control officers to check the whether windows comply with Part L of the Building Regulations. Apparently they have no equipment to measure U-values, yet are obliged to assess them. They do this by looking to see whether there is a FENSA stamp on the window. And then they look through the glass from the inside to see if it has a darkish tint.