The deputy prime minister gets called Jack, clients get called pigs (but in a nice way) and the PFI continues to be called by a variety of inaccurate epithets

He’s, like, the vice-president

Good to see Chicago mayor Richard Daley at the Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit this week, although many delegates were uncertain as to whether he’d turned up at the right conference. First he delivered a 20-minute tourism advert for/eulogy to his city, then he made a faux-pas with his own host’s name. Dedicating his speech to our own deputy prime minister’s drive and passion for sustainability, our American friend intoned: “I’d really like to thank Jack Prescott.” Doh!

Fort G-Mex

Perhaps in an effort to make their American guest feel more at home, the summit’s organisers put on a security display worthy of Fort Knox at Manchester’s G-Mex Centre. Even the doyen of regeneration that is Tom Bloxham, owner of Urban Splash, had trouble getting into the event, and was spotted looking, understandably, a tad miffed. “It was like getting into an airport,” complained one delegate. “I was expecting them to demand that I take my shoes off.”

A pig’s breakfast

Vice admiral Peter Dunt, chief executive of the Ministry of Defence’s construction and development arm Defence Estates, is far from your stuffy forces man, as I discovered at last week’s Movers & Shakers networking breakfast. During a candid speech about the performance of one of the UK’s biggest clients, Dunt wove in a telling metaphor for the issue of partnering between clients and the industry: “At times it can be a bit like a pig and chicken discussing making breakfast. The pig says to the chicken ‘you’re providing something for it but for me it’s total commitment’.” Clients will undoubtedly be flattered by the porcine reference, but it quite put me off my full English.

Private. Finance. Initiative.

What is the big problem with the abbreviation that is PFI? You would have thought that after 10 years the general public would have worked out what those three little letters stand for, but no. Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow got a bit confused a few months ago, calling it the public finance initiative in a piece on Jarvis. Now the writers of the BBC1 detective show Dalziel and Pascoe have got equally confused in a scene discussing plans for a hospital. “It’s one of those private funding initiative ones,” says a doctor.
Oh dear.

The job’s just too easy

Speaking of Jarvis, I see that the long-suffering support services group may be over the worst of its troubles after managing to flog off its interest in the London Underground and getting its banks on side for at least another year – sweaty palms at that meeting, I’ll bet. So what now for chief executive Alan Lovell? Having reportedly enjoyed 15-hour days during the run-up to the deals, rumour now has it that he is heading off to pastures new. Another example of his penchant for taking jobs that nobody else wants, turning the firm in question around, then leaving?

Come on, it’s for charidee

I see there has been plenty of effort put into fundraising by the industry’s great and good in the past month. I hear the latest tsunami aid event will be a gala dinner organised by developer Canary Wharf at its new venue the East Wintergarden. Log on to for more details.

If you are organising an event yourself, or have heard of one, please email me at I will endeavour to mention events on this page or I will flag them up on our website:

Size matters at MIPIM
Size matters at MIPIM
I hear there is nervous talk among MIPIM-goers of “the curse of the big boats” among fit-out contractors. Some regulars have spotted an inverse law between the size of boat/party at the Cannes champagne-fest and the future financial performance. Put simply, the bigger the company’s boat, the faster said company sinks. Examples cited include a couple of the most recent plunges overboard, Spectrum and Bellwater, as well as Churchfield, which sunk back in 2000. So if you spot any 100-footers cruising past in March, don’t be too jealous.