In need of some excitement in this rather dull election season? Then read about acts of political violence from the safety of your own armchair

Kingston’s mean streets

Labour candidate for Kingston and Surbiton Nick Parrott kindly invited me on a walk around his prospective constituency last weekend, when who should the touring party run into but another canvasser – the sitting Liberal Democrat MP and party housing spokesman Ed Davey. To the disappointment of the Parrott entourage, the duo failed to draw pistols and simply offered each other “Good afternoon”. “What the hell was that?” exclaimed one of Parrott’s team. “What did you want me to do, challenge him to a duel?” asked Parrott. Well, it would certainly liven up a dull election that has so far been shorn of John Prescott’s streetfighting antics.

Softening the blow

Talking of Prescott’s punch-up, at the Construction Products Association lunch last Tuesday ex-New Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell reminisced about the day the news story broke. He described how he had been at the launch of the Labour manifesto before the 2001 election – “one of the worst days of my life” – when he received a disturbing phone call.

“I’ve just thumped a bloke,” announces Prezza.
“What kind of bloke?”
“Just a bloke.”
“Were the press there?”
“I think it were live on TV.”
“Why did you thump him?”
“He were a prat.”
“John, if we went round thumping everyone …”


I don’t want to overdo the election stuff, but this made me chuckle: housing minister Keith Hill has broken his foot. Okay, it’s not gentlemanly to find that amusing, but one local paper following Hill on a constituency tour did come up with a great line: “Hill now has a safe seat: his wheelchair!”

State of the art

What on earth has happened to this poor tree? Could it be the victim of chemical warfare? And hasn’t its fate been sealed by its location next to Pfizer’s new drug research centre at Sandwich in Kent? No and no. The tree is actually a prized creation by artist David Parfitt, one of seven pieces by Parfitt commissioned by International Art Consultants to enhance Pfizer’s upmarket campus. Which begs the question, what else is he adorning the building with? Steel guinea pigs?

A three-headed bronze lab rat, perhaps?

Harsh reality TV

I hear the ambitious self-builders on Channel 4’s Grand Designs have hit the tough realities of the world of construction again. Inventor Monty Ravenscroft looked radiant last week as he told presenter Kevin McCloud that he had finally got approval for his dream, a three-bedroom house in south London. Innovations included a retractable roof. Unfortunately for poor old Monty, the day after the TV broadcast, Bob Jones at Southwark Building Control informed me that Monty definitely did not have Building Control approval.

Power of the pen
Power of the pen
I hear that an unusual work of art is gracing the offices of those trendy urban apartment developers, Urban Splash. The drawing, with its trademark blobby lines, is the work of one W. Alsop. The artwork came about when Will, gripped by enthusiasm at a project meeting in the developer’s office, jumped from his seat and started to sketch on a whiteboard. Except, the smooth white surface on which Alsop unleashed his creative vision was not a whiteboard, but a projector screen. Urban Splash decided to keep the work, and buy a new projector screen.