This week, Jude Law makes his debut on the construction stage, Lord Foster finds his true vocation and the chancellor has to relearn the alphabet

He’s better at numbers

Gordon Brown’s former economics adviser Ed Balls gave a revealing insight into the observational powers of “our next prime minister” at the Building 100 Breakfast Club last week. Apparently, during Balls’ time at the Treasury, Brown once rang to congratulate him on being named the country’s second most influential policy maker by The Economist. Brown was 19th and accepted that Balls should be higher up the list than himself. What bemused him was that Margaret Beckett was also named ahead of him, and appeared to be deemed more significant than Tony Blair. “Gordon,” said Balls, “I think you’ll find that the list is alphabetical – which would explain why Gerry Adams is at number one.”

Hectic in Harrogate

There were a lot of weary-looking delegates at the Chartered Institute of Housing Conference in Harrogate last week as the confab coincided with hectic last-minute preparations for the 1 July stage-two deadline of English Partnerships’ £60,000 competition. It seems the message that the deadline had been extended by two weeks had failed to reach everybody. Those who were aware of the extension were readily identifiable by the smug grins emblazoned across their faces.

Law unto himself

It seems that some A-list celebrities do have a grasp of reality after all. At a topping out ceremony for the Young Vic theatre in Southwark, London, Jude Law donned hard hat and fluorescent jacket and did what a man with the last brick has to do. But when asked if he had dabbled in the design for the new theatre (perhaps as De Neroesque preparation for his role as an architect in the film Breaking and Entering) Law appeared confused. “I’m an actor, not an architect,” he explained. Mr Law was therefore less than enthusiastic when asked if he was hoping to emulate Brad Pitt, the American actor who’s presently honing his architecture skills under the tutelage of Frank Gehry. Shame – we heard Norman was on the look-out for an apprentice.


Not funny this one, but an interesting insight into the polo-playing lives of the McCarthy dynasty. A few years ago John McCarthy suffered a polo accident, crushing his ribs and puncturing a lung. Amazingly son Clinton suffered exactly the same injuries in a game the other week. Sibling Spencer laughs: “Still, the horse didn’t fall on top of him like it did with my dad.” There’s brotherly love for you.

The Russian retreat

One of the potential hosts for the 2012 Olympics appears to have bitten the dust ahead of next week’s deciding vote. Apparently, a delegation from Moscow didn’t bother turning up to a key presentation last week, effectively excluding itself. But don’t get too excited: at odds of 100-1, Moscow was hardly the main rival.

The Lord is our shepherd
The Lord is our shepherd
I hear the organisation of the 2006 architectural biennale in London is gathering pace, and there are proposals to once again drive livestock through the capital. Wary of provoking the wrath of the authorities with a repeat of last year’s cattle drive through Clerkenwell, the organisers this year have decided to downscale to sheep. If all goes to plan, 70 of them will be shepherded from Bermondsey market along the South Bank and across the Millennium Bridge, with Lord Foster at the helm. Fill in your own analogy with the British architectural profession here.