This week we have motorbike crashes, pop culture, wads of cash, priceless jewels and giant bordellos … Ah, don’t you just love the construction industry?
Mixing pop and politics
Communities minister David Miliband is renowned as the man with the four-figure IQ, but word reaches me of a test that left him stumped. Miliband, my ODPM spies tell me, was approached for an interview by that esteemed political journal Loaded and was accordingly briefed by his officials for expected questions. Mindful that some on the Tory frontbench had come unstuck by professing their admiration for Dido, Miliband’s people went for the cool option for their man, who’s still the right side of 40. “Just say you like Franz Ferdinand,” they advised. “France for what?” came the confused reply.
The hobbling champion
I bumped into my old friend Terry Farrell last week and was perturbed to see him walking with the aid of a stick. It transpired that Terry has had a dodgy knee since he fell off a motorbike in his youth and has just had an operation to sort things out. I left it to one of Farrell’s entourage to point out the obvious irony. “Everyone knows him as the walking champion,” he said, referring to the star architect’s love of pedestrianised urban spaces. “Unfortunately, at the moment, he can’t actually walk …”
Priceless gems, cheap shots
I have to confess that up until now I was not aware of the existence of Munters, the specialist humidity consultant that shares its name with a slang term for unattractive women. All that changed when I received a press release informing me of the firm’s excellent work in preventing moist air from tarnishing such objects as the crown jewels and Manchester United’s trophies. As the firm itself says: “The jewels of the kings of football and the queen of England are preserved by Munters.” I wonder how the cleaners at the Tower feel about that …
Tearing himself away …
Many congratulations to Costain van driver Keith Bradley, above, who has just won £4.2m on the national lottery. Bradley, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, only joined the firm full-time two weeks ago but curiously may elect to do something else now. “I really like the company and my colleagues, but my wife and I would like to travel because I have only ever been to Germany,” he revealed. “So I am leaving Costain but I will be sad in one way to go.” Which way is that, exactly?
Build it in Bangalore
Many people have argued that the planning system went west years ago, but fewer will know that it might also be set to go east. At the annual dinner of the British Urban Regeneration Association last week, local government minister Phil Woolas eulogised the Indian city of Bangalore, where a planning application is dealt with in four weeks. Woolas said that Britian, by contrast had “a system for planning that’s not in my view fit for purpose”. Could this be a hint that the planning system might follow the dizzying success of the call centres and head for the subcontinent?
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