This week, Multiplex explores advanced semiotics, we present Procure 21 for beginners and Skanska gives children the precious gift of machine guns

The frame blame game

Here’s a personal take on the intricacies of Procure 21, courtesy of a source close to one of the more successful framework contractors. Our man takes the view that the reason some firms are complaining about Procure 21 is not because the system is flawed but because they haven’t got their bids right. “The reason all these guys are complaining is because otherwise they’d have to go back to their main board of directors and say, ‘The reason we haven’t got any work is because we’re a load of shit’.” Well, when you put it like that …

Move over, Donald Rumsfeld

Despite Multiplex’s recent announcement that its Wembley losses are to grow further, a well placed source assures me that the project is still on course. “The stadium will be ready in time for the FA Cup final,” he said confidently … before adding: “But it depends on what you mean by ‘ready’. In construction terms it probably won’t be ready … well, finished … if you know what I mean. It’ll be ready to host the final, but it probably won’t be entirely finished. For example it has hundreds of toilets, and they may not all be completed. You’ll be able to use them – so they’ll be ready, but they won’t be finished, if you know what I mean.” Erm, not entirely, but I’m sure the FA’s lawyers do.

Now that’s what I call music …

So it seems that Neil Morrissey’s elegantly wrought pop classic Bob the Builder – Can We Fix It? is not the last word in construction-related chartbusters. If you don’t avidly tune in to Top of the Pops each week, may have escaped The JCB Song, a number one brought to you courtesy of Nizlopi, a young duo from the mean streets of Leamington Spa. Celebrating the JCB digger and including such lines as “I’m Luke, I’m five and my dad’s Bruce Lee, he drives me round in his JCB”, the ditty was very much the soundtrack to Hansom’s Christmas. Rumours that Sir Michael Latham penned the hit as part of the latest CITB-ConstructionSkills youth recruitment campaign have yet to be confirmed.

This gun for hire

Did Skanska help out with a school’s Christmas play this year? Oh yes it did! The kids at Eltham Green Specialist Sports College put on a rather jolly production of Bugsy Malone over the festive period, but it would not have been nearly so much fun without Skanska’s help. In the programme’s “thank you” list, the following entry was placed under costumes and props: “Skanska Construction – GUNS.” That’s the way to reintroduce respect into our schools …

The political hothouse

To the Federation of Master Builders’ Christmas ball and, after the dancing girls and the Shirley Bassey impersonator had finished their routines, it was time for London regional president Nigel Pound to step up for his big speech. Thanking one prominent Tory councillor for his attendance, Pound mistakenly called his guest a “conservatory councillor”. Perhaps he was thinking about his latest planning application?

A whole lot of competence

Struggling to think of something to spend those Christmas book tokens on? Well, struggle no longer. The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering has finally published its illustrated history, One Hundred Years of Competence and Commitment. Not exactly Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in its scope and ambition, but then Snr Márquez’s masterwork doesn’t include a photo of Jill Frogley, “Miss Plumber’s Mate of 1966”.

Dressed to impress - illustration

Dressed to impress

News reaches me that accountants at one industry institute became increasingly concerned during the festive season over the issue of whether its leader should wear his regalia of office to seasonal functions. Apparently, if the full attire is worn, its value tops £100,000. With the president decked out in more bling than J-Lo, it’s not surprising that the bean counters were more than a little apprehensive about him staggering drunkenly onto the dance floor to give Merry Christmas Everybody his all.