Wates gets a starring role on the X Factor, a romantic lawyer woos his lady at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Jackson sees it all before and Arup puts on a really cool party

The final bell

Now that his stint refereeing one of the bitterest grudge matches Wembley has ever seen has finally come to an end, Mr Justice Jackson is to be rewarded with a seat in the Court of Appeal. If he can separate Multiplex and Cleveland Bridge, then the court above should be a walk in the park. However, it seems Jackson developed a taste for the fray early in his career. According to former colleague Chris Dale, one of Jackson’s cases as a young barrister was a “bloody war of attrition” between an upmarket shop and its shop-fitters. Dale writes in his blog: “It had no deep points of law in it, just two parties who hated each other and were not willing to consider that there could be any meeting-point between their respective positions.” Ring any bells?

Yes, yes, but what about the partitions?

In these difficult times, contractors are understandably keen to squeeze a few drops of PR honey from whatever opportunity they can. Last week, Wates Group, normally a model of British understatement, was bragging about its appearance on ITV talent contest the X Factor. It did the £6.5m fit-out of the Sony BMG offices in London, which were the backdrop for an interview with pop mogul Simon Cowell. Sadly, I suspect the attention of most X Factor viewers was not on the quality of the partitioning and raised flooring.

Rough approximations

When Carl Turpin, chief executive of Oakdene, was asked by Building in May about the number of houses the company had sold in 2007, “about 200” was the reply. However the reality, unearthed after further questioning, was 140. Well, what’s 60 units between friends? But last week, the embattled company admitted that its hopes of raising £5m through a share placement has fallen short by the rather larger figure of 1 million shares. Perhaps they had failed to count their investors properly, too.

Closing argument illustration

Courting couple

With lawyers one of the few groups in the industry likely to benefit from the credit crunch, one has to wonder at the thriftiness of one leading legal eagle and Building columnist. The lawyer in question took his partner on a thrilling visit to the Royal Courts of Justice – so, pretty much his office – as part of London’s recent Open House weekend. According to our somewhat defensive subject, who will remain nameless lest those at Cameron McKenna guess his identity, the lady in question “really seemed to enjoy” the trip. Whether or not she would swear to that in front of a judge is, of course, another matter.

Bitter chill it was

Arup staff are nothing if not prepared. Never was this more clearly demonstrated than at last week’s chilly end-of-season party at Frank Gehry’s Serpentine pavilion in Hyde Park. Autumn had well and truly arrived in central London that blustery, grey evening, but amid the swirling leaves those resourceful Arup boys and girls were kitted out in duffel coats and other assorted winterwear. Their guests didn’t get much warning though …

The trekkies

I had heard that things were cooling down in the construction world at the moment, but an item of news to reach me from a desert in Namibia was enough to bring me out in a sweat. Apparently, three workers at the Prince’s Trust have just completed a four-day trek across 300km of the Namib desert in 40ºC temperatures, raising £10,000 in the process. The worthy cause? The trust’s Get Into Construction programme, of course. Given the current state of the industry, perhaps training in searing temperatures might not be such a bad idea – excellent preparation for working in the Gulf.