David was not wrong about the size of the event. According to local cabbies, who thankfully were not on strike this year, there were more than 28,000 delegates in town. Okay, so it's only half the size of the film festival, but who wants to meet some glamorous film stars or incredibly charismatic movie moguls when you can chew the fat with a bunch of half-cut QSs, contractors, lawyers, architects, developers and agents?
You can probably include the pilot of my plane on that delegate list. As I was considering my game plan for this year's event, our flying vehicle appeared to swerve somewhat off course as we neared landing at Nice airport. The captain then came on the intercom, but failed to offer us too much comfort. "It's quite all right, ladies and gentlemen. I came in too high for the landing. I'm going to give it another go and hopefully we'll make it this time." Not very reassuring. Perhaps he'd been on the bubbly already? Surely not.
Relieved to have made it onto the ground in one piece, I managed to find a dinner to attend – one hosted by a staff member of a large contractor beginning with "M" – I can't say which one, it's sub judice. Much hilarity ensued during a rowdy and raucous presentation of special awards to industry figures, including the silver-haired (and tongued) QS David Thompson and the mild-mannered former Foster's man Ken Shuttleworth. The evening was topped off by storming musical set from blues outfit the Gardiner & Theobald All Stars. The band was led by G&T partner and ace plank-spanker Gary Griffiths, whose guitar style was reminiscent of the late American blues star Stevie Ray Vaughan. And on drums was his wife Laura. You couldn't make it up.
This Scouse consultant could talk for Britain, veering from his messy divorce to his underwear (briefs, for the record)
After a quick trip to the Carlton I headed back to my own hotel to recharge the batteries for the next morning – okay, early afternoon then. And boy did I need it, as I was due to meet the very energetic construction minister Nigel Griffiths. Nigel immediately slapped a photocopy of a recent edition of Building on the table in front of me as I sat down. "What's this rubbish you've printed?" the Scot demanded. We had suggested that he would be too busy at MIPIM to meet the press. Given that he was sitting right in front of me at said function, I didn't have much of a defence and endeavoured to change the subject.
After such a grilling, a pleasant lunch was needed. Hosted by project manager Rowney Sharman, it was going along quietly enough … until a Scouse consultant entered the fray. This man could talk for Britain. And indeed he did. The conversation veered from his personal life (going through a messy divorce) to how I reminded him of a journalist he knows who writes for the Daily Star (thanks for that). We also discussed whether he wore boxer shorts or Y-fronts (briefs, for the record) and how he wished he started a dating agency instead of entering the construction industry. So do I.
Phil Clark is deputy editor of Building.