We bring you tales of flamboyant Indian princes (well, an engineer from London), wonderful wildlife (a woodpecker infestation in Watford) and how the conquest of space will help you in your hour of need

The Bellew of the ball

Apparently Patrick Bellew, chairman of building services engineer Atelier Ten, was in danger of upstaging the bride at a colleague’s wedding recently. Bellew’s invitation said that not only was the do happening in India but that guests were required to wear traditional Indian garb. While some might have baulked, Bellew showed no trepidation and turned up on the day in an embroidered suit in black and gold, topped by a magnificent red turban. Trouble was, all the other guests were in shirts and ties.

The role of the civil service

Another dispatch from the endless war between public and private sectors, on this occasion from the recently refurbished HQ of Defra. A chum of mine who was judging an architectural competition was given a tour

of the building, after which he asked his guide if he was himself a civil servant. “Oh Christ, no,” came the response. “I work for Carillion. In my job my boss gives me something to do and I do it and ask what he wants done next. In this place you ask someone to do something and 10 of them come back three weeks later and explain why it can’t be done, and even if it can be done they can’t do it and even if they could do it there’s no point.”

The old devil

Will Alsop showed he’s not afraid to practise what he preaches at a debate at the RIBA last week. This was the one on whether there should be more sex in architecture. “All this talk of good sex and bad sex – some of us would just settle for any sex,” twittered the Evening Standard’s Philippa Stockley towards the end of the evening. “I’ll see you later,” said Alsop gallantly.

Credit: Scott Garrett

Lifting the lid

Anyone who thinks our masters in Whitehall lack a sense of humour will be enlightened by the latest publication from the communities department. This was a strategic guide intended to persuade councils to improve their provision of public toilets. The headline on the press release? It could only be “All Cisterns Go”. And cross-legged readers will no doubt be as relieved as I was with the news that “SatLav” has been launched. This is a service that will text you the location of your nearest public convenience for a small fee. In fact, it’s a great way to spend 25 pennies …

Knock, knock

Prefabricated housing and Watford have both had their critics, but modular specialist Caledonian has found some unlikely enthusiasts for one of its residential schemes in the Hertfordshire town. After “knocking” sounds were heard emanating from some units on the scheme, it was revealed that woodpeckers had taken a liking to the cedar cladding …

A soldier’s life

The Ministry of Defence might have a huge budget for accommodation, but it looks like it’ll be spending an awful lot of it on building maintenance. Apparently, the stairs in some housing have been damaged by rogue employees tearing around on dirt bikes.

Don’t they have enough assault courses to negotiate already?

The English language according to BAA I have a handy tip for anyone who plans to do any business with embattled airport operator BAA over the Easter holidays. According to my snout, the latest bit of jargon doing the rounds at Heathrow is “VCC”. “Nobody had a clue what they were on about,” he says. “Eventually someone asked and it turns out it’s ‘vertical column circulation’.” That’s stairs and escalators to the rest of us.