Sadly, unacceptable behaviour by a civil servant and a hamster called Norman let down this week’s otherwise sweet-natured and only partially clothed column

This charming man

Delegates fighting through the frozen wastes to the Adams Integra social housing conference at Gatwick last week were baffled by the performance of Peter Ruback, the ODPM’s head of affordable housing. He was on the panel at a Question Time-style discussion on the extension of social housing grant to private sector developers. However, his contributions were perfunctory, to say the least. As his fellow panellists got stuck into the issues, Ruback disappeared for a lengthy spell, and on his return gave cursory replies, and even declined to answer one of the questions put to him. So much for open government.

Ashley looking lovely in blue

I hear former Sun editor David Yelland was in upbeat mood at the end of last week. Yelland, who is now heading PR outfit Weber Shandwick, was so pleased with last week’s front page of Building, that he has requested a couple of copies for his wall. As you may recall, this showed Ashley Muldoon and Noel Henderson of Multiplex in a pose that vaguely (and coincidentally) resembled David Bailey’s well-known photograph of the Kray twins. Multiplex are, of course, a valued client of Weber Shandwick. No doubt the page looks good next to the Piers Morgan dartboard.

Named and shamed

For a person of cultural significance, like myself, a plaque commemorating the site of their work has long been a way to ensure they are remembered. Now architects are in danger of having their names emblazoned on walls for all the wrong reasons; Huntington parish councillors are proposing plaques on all buildings naming the architects on the outskirts of York, so residents know who to blame for buildings they don’t like. Hands up those who still want to work in York?

E-numbers: Inspiring creativity

The delicious winner of the Junior Open House scheme, which aims to empower young people with knowledge of architecture, has wowed the judges with a house made out of sweets designed for Willy Wonka. St Marylebone CE School for Girls pupils’ designs “showed imagination and inspiration”, said the panel of judges that included Richard Rogers and Eva Jiricna. Other entries included designs for celebrities as eclectic as Kelly Osbourne and our own Norman Foster.

Déjeuner sur le common

Partners and clients of interior contractor BDG Workfutures recently gathered at the National Portrait Gallery to talk shop and admire the work of surrealist-muse-turned-war-photographer Lee Miller. One particularly arresting image of Miller surrounded by a clutch of male admirers caught the eye of a woman who exclaimed loudly that the scene reminded her of a picnic she’d once had on Clapham Common. She quickly blushed and withdrew her remark when she realised the famously uninhibited Miller was in an advanced state of undress. Clapham Common may be the venue for numerous nefarious activities but clearly topless picnicking isn’t among them.

Hamster sex
Hamster sex
Sir Terence Conran is the latest designer to have the dubious honour of having a hamster named after him by Keith Hobbs. The Independent reported that design guru Hobbs christened the hamster Terence after falling out with his former business associate a few years ago. Hobbs already has a hamster named Norman, after Lord Foster, which apparently resents the newcomer and regularly breaks into his cage. Apparently, Nasty Norman regularly steals Terence’s food and “rogers him senseless”.