This week we stroll along the balmy streets of Barcelona while Jack Pringle meets his adoring public in Paris – both of which sound preferable to watching a 1-1 draw in Carlisle …

Oh my Gaudí!

I was let loose for my hols last week and headed for the sunny climes of Barcelona.

The beautiful Catalan city is home to Gaudí’s bewildering Sagrada Familia, inspired a young Picasso to explore cubism and is an example to the Olympic Delivery Authority of just what the word “legacy” is all about.

Then there is the 107m Hesperia Tower, designed by Britain’s own Lord Rogers. Perhaps the fairest thing to say of this, er, imposing structure on the way to the airport is that Rogers must have been distracted by the glorious architecture in the rest of the city when designing it.

Commander Jack

An architect who has been making a slightly more positive impact on our European neighbours is Jack Pringle, the outgoing RIBA president. News reached me this week that Pringle is to receive the “highest cultural honour” in France from president Nicolas Sarkozy. Apparently, the French have been so impressed with Pringle’s contribution to education during his two-year tenure that they have decided to appoint him Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Previous winners include Bob Dylan and Jackson Pollock but Pringle is the first ever RIBA president to receive the honour.

He said: “It’s a pleasure to be recognised by such an enlightened nation.” I wonder where he’ll be holidaying next year …

Credit: Scott Garrett

"He even keeps a video replay!"


They thought it would be Sven. Then they thought it would be Martin Jol. But the first football manager to be sacked this season turned out to be poor Neil McDonald, who was dropped after Carlisle United’s first match of the season produced nothing better than a 1-1 draw. For all the worries about the fickle loyalties of football’s international owners, it was one of our own who read out the marching orders – Carlisle is owned by Fred Story, managing director of local contractor Story Construction. Troublesome subbies beware!

When Joseph met Josephine

I am sure that by now, like me, readers are thoroughly fed up of being poked by friends with nothing better to do than post on Facebook. The net still manages to throw the occasional surprise my way, though.

Regular readers may remember my recent cyber-encounter with my great-great-great-great-grand-daughter. Well, with the tenacity typical of our family, Josephine tracked me down to my office last week. While I was delighted to meet her IRL (“in real life” to the uninitiated), I was slightly unnerved to discover that she actually works as a pollster in the same building as me.

A bit of help from Fry and Laurie

A quick tip to QS firms that are having trouble attracting new recruits – ever thought of asking comedian Stephen Fry for help? A recent programme on BBC4 to mark Fry’s 50th birthday included a clip from an eighties sketch with Hugh Laurie involving QSs doing “dancercise”. Believe me, the profession has never looked more exciting …

The cold, hard truth

I’m sure energy minister Malcolm Wicks was being sincere when he said in a press release, “It’s early days and we don’t want to overstate it …” However, methinks the developers of the latest “super-green” fridge might be feeling a tad pressured after Wicks’ Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform claimed new refrigeration technology could save 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – “the equivalent of taking 665,000 cars off the road”. Chill out, I say.