ohn Prescott, Richard McCarthy and a duo of city bankers try to master the art of smooth talking, whereas all adjudicators want to do is play with their trains …

Hard to resist

I hear deputy prime minister John Prescott is attempting to use his legendary powers of persuasion to hold on to English Partnerships chairwoman Margaret Ford. The feisty Scot is held in high regard by the, er, feisty northener for having improved the rather woefully performance of the regeneration agency. Ford’s three-year tenure is coming to an end, and I hear she is currently mulling over Prescott’s silky-tongued enticements.

The hardest word

Speaking of the government and all things regenerative, my thoughts turn to Richard McCarthy, the ODPM’s head of sustainable communities and a man possessed of sound communication skills and considerable ambition. These facts were not lost on staffers at the Peabody Trust, his former workplace, who nicknamed him “Tony”. As to how far the comparison with our dear leader stretches, I imagine we will find that out the next time Mr McCarthy is called on to say sorry.

City bankers: Rhyming slang?

The astronomically expensive restaurant Sketch was the venue for solicitor Macfarlanes’ annual property reception last Monday. The suits worn by Macfarlanes’ lawyers and construction clients, ran the gamut from black to very dark grey, contrasting with the swanky vibe of the central London hang-out – particularly the soft-lit “snogging room”. One of the hosts thought that lawyers were a little “too reserved” for such a hedonistic nook. City bankers, however, are horses of a different colour, and two were keen to try their luck in the soft-lit room. Alas, they found no willing snoggees despite their best attempts to woo two of Building’s most attractive female reporters with a plate of stolen canapés.

Ever-decreasing circles

My ears pricked up at news of Alan Lovell’s return to centre stage last week. As you will be aware, he is taking up the challenge of running Jarvis for a bit. Lovell, you may recall, looked after Costain during its rather difficult time during the mid-1990s. And who took over from Lovell as head honcho? One John Armitt, who has since moved on to Network Rail, which just happens to be the biggest client of … Jarvis. Well, aren’t we just one happy dysfunctional family?

Letting off steam

Is this an audition for a more mature version of Thomas the Tank Engine, complete with Fat Controller at the front? No, it’s what happens when you let an octet of adjudicators and arbitrators out for the day – on this occasion at the Birkhill Caverns clay mine in West Lothian, Scotland, following the RICS annual conference for said practitioners. Pictured far left, clearly enjoying his big day out, is Building’s very own legal writer Tony Bingham. A bottle of the finest plonk for the reader who can suggest the funniest line uttered by the bemused driver in the background. Email your captions to us at hansom@cmpinformation.com.

Do buy …

I see that tasteful new development is still the order of the day in Dubai. The new wheeze from the city-state that brought us our island Earth (enter “Dubai” and “ohmygod” into the Building search engine) is the “International City”. This will include streets designed according to the style of particular countries such as France, Morocco, Russia, China and, naturally, England. I’m told that the French boulevard is sold out but so far the English street is failing to excite Arabian housebuyers. A mirror of our own faltering housing market, perhaps?