Simon decided golf would be more fun than doorstepping voters trying to watch Britain’s got talent…
Quentin Shears, 48, is a partner at a small Hertfordshire-based quantity surveyor. He is undergoing anger management therapy following a heated dispute with a project architect over the cladding specification on Buntingford leisure centre. Criminal proceedings were dropped by the architect after he conceded that the inclusion of solid gold tiling in the designs was intended to “provoke a strong reaction”. As part of Quentin’s therapy, he has been encouraged to “work through” his feelings by writing a diary, which he has kindly agreed to share with Building.
My senior partner Simon Fearful’s bid to become MP of Bishop’s Stortford East has been struggling to get off the ground. The polls are continuing to show that quantity surveying is not a vote winner.
The latest suggests that 23% of the electorate think the term “QS” refers to a mild strain of obsessive compulsive disorder. And they can’t all be architects.
There’s a certain type of Englishman who lives by the maxim that, when the going gets tough, the tough head for the golf course. And so it was that Simon decided his campaign needed the kind of boost that only a charity golf tournament could give. The thinking behind this was that a) he could show his Tory “big society” credentials by promoting his work for charity, b) the charity in question, Quantity Surveyors Sans Frontières, would get our profession into the public eye (although Simon’s prediction that it could do for QSing what the leaders’ debates have done for the Lib Dems seemed a little optimistic), and c) it would be more fun than doorstepping voters while they’re trying to watch Britain’s Got Talent. I agreed to turn up – not for party political reasons, but because my therapist tells me that sport is a healthy way of releasing aggression.
Another way of looking at it is that sport is a healthy way of exacting revenge. Simon had mentioned that he had drafted in Alex de Wile, the architect behind the academy@grimston, to make up the numbers. As I’ve written about before, the academy consortium has been a model of collaboration, but Alex has been sorely testing my patience. Ever since he saw Anish Kapoor’s Olympic tower, he’s been telling everyone we should be doing something similar with a climbing frame in the playground.
Trouncing Alex on the golf course would, I felt, be a quiet but emphatic response to such suggestions. In my experience, architects are rubbish at sport. I know Foster has his skiing, and they tell me that Alsop has picked up some mean ice hockey skills during all that time he’s spent in Toronto, but I was confident Alex wouldn’t put up much of a fight over 18 holes of Hertfordshire’s finest cosmetically enhanced countryside.
As I arrived, the day was already well under way. A banner proclaiming “Quantity Surveyors Sans Frontières: Putting for Peace” was dancing in the April breeze. Simon was busy looking for small children whose hair he could ruffle in front of the local press. Inside the beer tent, his wife, the eminent heart surgeon Dr Fiona Fearful (or FiFea as the papers have dubbed her) was staring glumly into a glass of wine. “You know, I had to cancel four operations for this,” she murmured, toying with a corkscrew. I sympathised, but my mind was on more important matters. I walked off to the first tee to begin the humiliation of my nemesis.
And so it would have proved. I was four up with five to go and had just played a delicate chip to the edge of the green. Alex was in a bunker. All was well with the world. Then, as we were wandering up the 14th fairway, Alex – almost certainly as some sort of “mind game” – decided to bring up the subject of the climbing frame. “The thing is, Quent, it’s integral to the whole vision. It’s like Anish says – it’s that medieval kind of idea of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible, aspiring to go even above the clouds – that’s what kids want.”
I reached for my nine iron. All I can say is, thank God there was a doctor on hand.
This article was formally “Simon decided golf would be more fun than doorstepping voters trying to watch Britain’s got talent” in Building.
As seen by Nick Jones