Our man in the know tells us what to avoid on your honeymoon, when MPs should keep shtoom and how a Building columnist is setting off on the road to stardom
So Tony Bingham has finally launched his television career. The Building columnist let slip last week that he had been filming a programme for Channel 4 in which he acts as the arbitrator in a battle between an irate homeowner and a disgruntled builder. If the pilot, due to hit the small screen later this year, receives good ratings, Tony might be hosting an entire series - construction's very own David Dickinson, if you will. But fear not, he has sworn that he won't be abandoning his weekly column to pursue media fame just yet …
What's going on with Procure 21? It's been a bit quiet at the NHS' controversial framework since the departure of its colourful boss Peter Woolliscroft at the beginning of the year. Could it be that since management consultant Symbia delivered its report, the government has been thinking about cutting the number of contractors on the framework from 11 to five? I hear it's very happy with the Welsh version of Procure 21, which happens to involve that number of companies.
And the King of Islambard is?
Poor old Tessa Jowell. What with all the unpalatable news about her husband, she probably hasn't had time to swot up on her briefs. Speaking at the launch of Museums and Galleries Month in London, she paid touching tribute to galleries in Bristol for their "celebration of the Islambard [sic] Kingdom". Confused onlookers soon twigged that she was talking about Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who was behind the Great Western Railway. Perhaps Jowell has taken on John Prescott as her communications adviser - he's got a bit of time on his hands now.
Bet the missus is thrilled …
It's probably fair to say that none of the Multiplex witnesses who've flown over from Australia for the Cleveland Bridge court battle have jumped at the chance of swapping Aussie sunshine for the gloom of court seven. Particular sympathy, however, must go to Chris Ong, former Wembley commercial manager, who interrupted his honeymoon to take the stand on Friday. As if that weren't bad enough, overruns on the case meant that Ong had to remain in the UK over the weekend so he could finish his evidence on Monday. "Might I remind you, court rules state that you must not discuss your evidence over the weekend," Mr Justice Jackson reminded an aggrieved Ong, before adding: "But in view of your circumstances, I'm sure you won't want to."
Nothing funny about HBG
Takeovers and mergers throw up more than their fair share of problems. There are head office closures, job losses, conflicting egos, previously undiscovered writedowns, clashes in culture … and then there's branding. HBG, for example, is in no hurry to take on the name of its Dutch parent company, BAM. Apparently in Scotland it is already familiar as a shortened form of bampot or bamstick - slang for idiot.
BAA's plan B
Hailed as the most innovative procurement route in the industry, BAA's Heathrow Terminal 5 agreement arrived in a whirl of spin and media hype, the like of which is rarely seen this side of an Alistair Campbell press briefing. But could it be that the BAA way of procurement is to disappear as quickly as it arrived? One senior industry source informs me that the airport operator is considering whether to revert to a form of traditional contracting, with an all-new procurement guru overseeing the change.
Opening old wounds
News reaches me that construction on one of Beijing's 2008 Olympic sites has stopped after a series of ancient imperial tombs were unearthed on the site. It would appear that the tombs contain the bodies of eunuchs who served the Ming dynasty more than 500 years ago. I shudder to think what delights will be recovered from the depths of Hackney as the London 2012 construction programme gets under way.
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