Bouygues gets its own back on your diarist, BCO delegates take delight in Gordon Brown’s travails, and Lord Foster pours his considerable talent into making a really splendid jelly
It’s good to talk
Last week I mentioned the problems Bouygues UK was having with the phones at its Waterloo head office. Well, my dig at the company, which counts the third largest mobile phone operator in France as its parent organisation, prompted Ian Gunter, its business development boss, to send me a mobile phone with his number programmed into it as my own hotline. Touché Ian. Never fear though, the company isn’t being wasteful in these difficult times – it only had three minutes of call time on it.
By royal appointment
It’s a relief to know at least one UK sporting venue was completed in time for the event it was meant to stage. The managers at Epsom racecourse were clearly delighted with the delivery of the first phase of their new stand, built by Willmott Dixon, in time for the Derby last week. So pleased, in fact, that they upgraded a few guests from the contractor to the royal box on Ladies Day as a thank you. Sadly, the group failed to spot any of the event’s more regal attendees, but at least the balcony provided an excellent vantage point for taunting the rest of the Willmott Dixon party in the double-decker bus on the other side of the finish line.
Frank about Gordon
Delegates at the British Council of Offices (BCO) annual conference in Brussels last week were treated to an analysis of UK politics by none other than Andrew Marr, the BBC’s former political editor. However, some delegates had already made decisions about the political landscape. Roger Madelin, chief executive of King’s Cross developer Argent, asked Marr how we ended up with a “loony bloke who can’t work in a team” as prime minister. He didn’t finish there – given his own platform later in the day he insisted, in his usual temperate language: “This isn’t a political statement, but until this miserable, moody git goes, we’re all f***ed. I wouldn’t trust him to run a whelk stall.” I’d be interested to hear what he’d say if he was being political…
Out and proud
Madelin clearly wasn’t on his own with his anti-Gordon view. While he refused to say who he was going to vote for, that reticence wasn’t widely shared. In fact, the whole BCO conference had the air of a Tory coming-out party. It was suddenly OK to be a Tory and proud. While Nick Ridley, the conference chair, confessed he knew fellow panellist Noel Manns of Europa Capital from their days as Conservative party activists, Giles Brandreth, former Tory MP and professional jumper-wearer, gave the after-dinner speech. Nevertheless, I’m sure Brown won’t be quaking in his boots at the Tory resurgence – he probably never had the pinstriped BCO members earmarked as his core vote in the first place.
Pink is the new green
I am told that law firm Eversheds’ new offices in the City, which opened last week, feature something called “pink noise”. Apparently, eerie silence left by the lack of hum from air-conditioning in the naturally ventilated building was so distracting that the thoughtful designers introduced background noise to help workers concentrate. If it all becomes too much and they want to lie down, sleeping pods are also provided.