As the autumn trees are changing, we turn over a new leaf, with a different housing minister, some original vocabulary, a fresh-look logo and the option to go for tapas
In her maiden speech to the housebuilding industry, new housing minister Margaret Beckett promised not to be “Pollyanna-ish” in her approach to the current crisis in the sector. In reference to the eponymous star of the 1913 novel, the Urban Dictionary defines this term as describing behaviour which is “absurdly optimistic … believing in a good world where everything works out for the best all the time”. Perhaps, given Beckett’s immediate predecessor’s predilection for refusing to admit the government has no chance of hitting its housing targets, the term could perhaps be updated to “Carolineflint-ish”.
Taking the plunge
I know, I know. You said to yourself if you saw another headline about “construction in freefall” or “housing nosedives”, you’d stop reading. But this one at least has a happy ending. Costas Paraskeva and Marcus Hudson of Miller Construction (Southern) took part in a dizzying freefall parachute jump from 12,000ft to raise more than £3,450 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Well done, chaps! Now, if we can only convince those suicidal City bankers to do the decent thing and sponsor themselves before they jump, we could be onto a winner here…
As I saw my first Christmas advert of the year this weekend, and heard the familiar jingle, I confess I shuddered. In October, for goodness sake! But the season will be swiftly upon us – so if anyone is stuck for a stocking filler, the recently published Kitchen Table Lingo could be a good buy. It’s a collection of words that have been made up by individuals and are now used every day. The book has phrases from celebs and us normal folk alike. Ever an inventive chap, architect Robert Adam has a whole page to himself. He claims “doughnut house” (country house with a large stairwell), “chunky stuff” (rustification) and “fluffies” (coloured presentation drawings). His colleagues chipped in with their favourite: “being Bobbed” (being made to work with Adam on a big project) – which he apparently had no idea was a phrase, even a made-up one, until it appeared in print. Let’s hope he doesn’t go throwing his fluffies about the place in protest!
Wren the balloon goes up
Wren Homes boss Paul Treadaway is better placed than most to turn his hand to another trade. Should the construction economy go belly up, he could always fall back on his previous incarnation as the owner of a tapas bar in Sutton, south London. I hear he used to run a string of bars as well. Then again, anyone who’s been in Sutton town centre on a Saturday night may think housebuilding is the more appealing option.
I want to be alone
Word reaches me about some Gleeds staffers who were visiting the new Saatchi Gallery in Sloane Square last week, when they happened upon the curator-in-chief himself, Charles Saatchi. They were on the verge of asking the great man about his new exhibition space, packed with a 20ft sculpture of a naked woman and a room full of hanging corpses, when they were shooed away by their guide. The reason? “He doesn’t like crowds.” That certainly explains the corpses, at least…