Take the property industry to Cannes, add champagne, stir, and sit back and enjoy the petty recriminations, boat crashes and inappropriate 1980s dancing …
95% truth free!
Sir Robert McAlpine boss Benny Kelly's annual birthday bash was enlivened by some entertaining banter between Kelly and his old sparring partner, Geoff Wright from Hammerson. Wright's impending retirement was the excuse for a sustained canings from Kelly and the party's host, Hoare Lea's Roger Steer, who memorably quipped: "Someone like Geoff only comes around once in a lifetime - but why did it have to be ours?" Wright afterwards, reassuring party-goers that "95% of that was totally untrue". Which only leaves 5% of spot-on character assassination, then.
Titanic metaphors? Us?
The gong for classiest party venue has to go to Bovis Lend Lease, which chartered a kind of seagoing seraglio with an approximate market value: £5m. Mindful of this, visitors were politely asked to remove their shoes before boarding. Sadly, such care became slightly ironic when we heard that the floating palace had earlier
scraped up against a yacht hired by Liverpool council. Perhaps worried that malicious Building scribes might seek to draw a parallel between boat and Bovis, your correspondent was directed to the relevant side of the boat by a Bovis man and shown that no real damage had occurred. "See, it wasn't really that bad," he began.
"But you'll probably report it the way you want, won't you?"
We certainly will …
Beware old comrades
Ken Shuttleworth didn't miss the chance to express his scepticism at the Russian market's emergence as a major force. "I'm not sure about some of the design quality," he told my spies. Coincidentally, I'm sure, two of the biggest Russian schemes on display at the show - a mixed-use tower in Moscow and a cultural quarter in St Petersburg - were by Shuttleworth's past employer and present archival, Norman Foster. Miaow …
Foster, slightly chilled
Speaking of Big Norm, I wonder if there is any end to his talents. While presenting the St Petersburg project, he was asked whether visitors to an outdoor theatre at the project's heart would be cold during winter performances. "They'll have to wrap up warm," he replied. "But they'll be okay. I should know, I did a cross-country skiing marathon last weekend."
Ken's recipe for success
Ken Livingstone was, as usual, well worth the admission fee. Having chastised developers as "shy and backward" at the London Development Agency reception, he introduced Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Jack Lemley by saying, "We're all very confident he will deliver the Olympics on time. In fact, I know he will, as we've taken his family hostage." Maybe it was nerves before his speech, but Lemley's face remained expressionless. Or maybe Ken really has got the Lemleys holed up in the basement of City Hall …
Meanwhile, back at the ranch
Wembley contractor Multiplex may have suffered another blow on Monday with the collapse of a roof strut, but the evacuated workforce was rather more upbeat. Around midday, groups of workers could be seen enjoying a can or two of lager at Wembley Park station. "Cherish it," one beaming worker called out, "it's the only day we'll ever be paid to get pissed." Not all of his colleagues were so lucky. A lone worker, standing at the stadium's entrance three hours later, said forlornly: "I was told to stand here as security. They said I'd be relieved."
Pogoing: not so cool for cats
Eighties pop favourites Squeeze were a highlight of the week. The gig proved a fancy-dress throwback to the decade that fashion forgot, with a very middle-aged crowd bouncing off the plastic walls of the beach marquee and, for want of a better word, pogoing. We can't wait to hear which retro band will grace MIPIM next year. Apparently The Smiths recently turned down $5m to reform for one US gig, but surely they won't be able to resist the lure of the Carlton bar …