Simon Hughes is such a busy man he could only spare "eight or nine minutes" to make his speech to the British Council of Offices' lunch last week. He then proceeded to waste the first few urging puzzled onlookers to register to vote in the London mayoral election, and spent valuable seconds flogging his website (www.simon4mayor.org.uk). Happily, he recovered his poise and his audience with a few gags based on his love of the mighty lions of Millwall. And to one cheeky request for FA Cup Final tickets, he responded: "As they say in Bermondsey, see me outside afterwards."
James R Machiavelli
Word reaches me of strange goings-on at the United Arab Emirates' branch of the RICS. This is being fronted by one Daniel Allon of James R Knowles. One of the recent attendees at a branch meeting was none other than Roger Knowles, Daniel's boss. But wait a moment – isn't that the same Roger who launched the Quantity Surveyors Institute, a rival to the RICS, in a blaze of publicity last October? Was Roger just observing, or is he hedging his bets?
Mediation, Baghdad style
Whatever else you may think about the grisly events in Iraq, I thought the construction industry at least was in the clear. Not so. Last Wednesday's Guardian included an interview with one Hassan Jasim, headmaster of the Two Rivers secondary school in Baghdad. He complained about American dictatorship in general, but his specific grievance was that thousands of dollars had been given to US contractors refurbishing his school, and they had installed cheap ceiling fans, doors without handles and badly flaking paint. "It's corruption; the Americans wouldn't let us make any complaints. They told us to be silent," he said. Puts Jarvis into perspective, don't you think?
Kafka's world of interiors
Calling all you quick-witted surveyors. Remember the famous Brit-Art work The House by Rachel Whiteread? The team that commissioned it, Artangel, is looking for two identical post-war houses in London. The team is working with German sculptor Gregor Schnieder who wants to transform the interiors into a "psychologically compressing, Kafkaesque space within a facade of normality", says Artangel's James Lingwood. The houses need to be vacant, structurally sound and available for six months. There's no mention of how much cash is on offer, but call James on 020-7713 1400 if you'd like to find out more.