Lese-majesty is rife, skulduggery rampant and secret relationships everywhere. Remember, if you look round the table and can't spot the chump – it's you
Taking the RICS by strategy
If you were hanging about here this time last week, you might have noticed an item on the mysterious manoeuvrings of Roger Knowles, head of James R Knowles and father of the Quantity Surveyors Institute. Well, Rog emails me with further info, which I am happy to pass on to you, treasured reader. Make of it what you will …

Dear Sir, I was impressed with the high quality of the intelligence used by Hansom in "James R Machiavelli ". My presence at an RICS meeting held in the United Arab Emirates was accurately reported. My motives for being in attendance however were questioned. Without wishing to divulge too many secrets, my presence could relate to a possible takeover of the RICS by the QSi. Yours, Roger Knowles, president QSi.

Darling, you were fabulous!
No doubt you recall the recent guest column by Jeff Howell, the Sunday Telegraph writer (8 April, page 33), in which he called for cowboy builders to be blinded in one eye and fitted with microchips. Well Andrew Eames, The Daily Telegraph's property hack, has redressed the balance with a glowing review of his builder, Cape Construction. "They came when they were supposed to, kept strictly to budget, did a skilful job and caused no friction with the neighbours," gushes Andrew. The only problem is that that kind of behaviour is considered newsworthy.

Cinema Paradiso
I was none too happy to hear news that my favourite cinema, the Coronet in Notting Hill, has been sold by Land Securities to the Elim Pentecostal Church. No more will I be able to settle in red plush splendour and watch low-budget erotic Italian arthouse masterpieces from the early 1970s; instead, we are to be offered wholesome "films for family viewing", possibly involving Julie Andrews or the dread Andie MacDowell. My only consolation is that the church beat Stelios Haji-Ioannou to the punch, so at least the darn place won't be painted orange.

Fancy bumping into you
At last Tuesday night's Building Awards, I took my place between T&G man Bob Blackman and consultant Stan Hornagold of Hornagold & Hill. Conscious of the heavy responsibility of a host, I introduced the two, adding a little about each's work experience, qualifications, early childhood and family pets. After a while I noticed that neither was listening: they are, it soon transpired, first cousins.

Shutting the stable door …

News reaches me that the Scottish parliament has managed to pull off an audacious cost-slashing exercise involving … the opening ceremony at which the Queen cuts the ribbon. In fact, it’s been reduced by half, from £420,000 to £210,000. Value engineering techniques have included replacing lobster bisque with barley stew and using Miss McLeod’s infants to colour the carpet red with felt-tips. But, given the mood in Scotland, it might have been better to have hired Lulu and staged the whole thing at three in the morning.