Ray O’Rourke stirs up Anglo-Irish rivalry, Building defends itself in court and Gardiner & Theobald’s QSs battle to be the ultimate bridge-building champions – all to a backdrop of classical music ...

War and peace

Ray O’Rourke began his speech to the Chartered Institute of Building’s annual dinner by asking who had been at Croke Park the week before to witness Ireland’s demolition of England’s rugby team. He went on say that during the event he was thinking of the politicians who negotiated for peace in Northern Ireland. And, ever the provocateur, O’Rourke added that he hoped England would “rip the hearts” out of the French in their next Six Nations tie – which, it scarcely needs pointing out, will have a direct bearing on Ireland’s ultimate fate in the competition.

From the frying pan to the fire

It was good to see John Armitt, Network Rail’s chief executive, at the CIOB dinner after his gruelling week fending off the press after the Cumbrian rail crash, which is still being investigated. Armitt humbly apologised for the disaster, but I hear his next little job will be to cut Network Rail’s framework of track renewal contractors from six to four. Jarvis take note.

Credit: Scott Garrett

Bleeding hearts

At the Chartered Institute of Building’s annual dinner, Ray O’Rourke gave what he described as his last public speech before the London Olympics. With five years to go, it was one to savour. “Can I make a plea to the press? Please don’t rip the heart out the Olympics,” said the Irishman, before revealing that Ascot’s grandstand had been a “huge success” last year. Is it unreasonable to rip the heart out of Ascot by pointing out that remedial works are still continuing, and that legal action looks inevitable? On this basis, it’ll be difficult to ignore the Olympics over the coming months if Ray is at the helm.

Building takes the stand

It’s not often Building speaks at the High Court but the Multiplex vs Honeywell case was an exception. Our reporter pitched up on the third day only for Mr Justice Jackson to ask him who he was and what he was doing there. Turns out, an application had been made for the court to sit in private and our man was the only non-legal type present. “Is there anything you’d like to say before I rule on the application?” asked the judge. The legal teams turned to hear Building address the court. “Er … I’d quite like to stay,” mumbled our hapless hack.

Classical, with a twist

The British Constructional Steelwork Association held its national dinner in the Dorchester instead of the Savoy for the first time last week. Guests were treated to classical numbers played by a quartet of four young ladies in full evening gowns while they enjoyed their food and wine. Then there were the speeches, including one by John Spanswick, the Bovis Lend Lease chairman, on his favourite topic – health and safety.

But those nodding off were suddenly jolted awake by the return of the string quartet – this time in short, sequinned dresses, with their music funked up by a drum machine and their bow-work supplemented by dance routines. Judging from the applause, the Dorchester will remain the BCSA’s favoured venue for years to come.

Beaten at their own game

I hear that consultant Gardiner & Theobald held a fun, bridge-building competition for their troops last week.

The aim was to assemble a structure, spanning about 8ft out of the usual Blue Peter paraphernalia. But despite the best efforts of many a design-conscious QSs, I hear the winning team was the company’s accounts department ...