This week government officials babysit their ministers, architects make sure we mind our p’s and q’s, multibillion-pound rail projects scream and shout - and Building practises its keepie-uppies

Now for some real hysteria …

With the World Cup nearly upon us, Building kicked off its online soccer skills competition this week with some impressive football tricks - and a few dodgy ones - demonstrated by rival QSs John Rowan & Partners and Franklin + Andrews, plus, slightly embarrassingly, a couple of our own members of staff. Check out the videos at and if you reckon you can do better (inconceivable though it seems) send us a film of yourself. Simply make a video with your iPhone and upload it to YouTube and email the link to Extra points to JRP for giving every staff member time off whenever their team is playing a match in the World Cup. I trust Building’s editor is taking note of this humane and enlightened policy …

Very cross rail

Our story revealing that Crossrail’s budget could be cut by up to £5bn disturbed us as much as anyone. The London Evening Standard, another supporter of the rail project, saw fit to follow up our piece on its front page. Still, I was bemused when my colleague received an email from the Crossrail press office informing him
that our story had provoked “a hysterical media storm”. It’s understandable it didn’t fill them with delight, but perhaps the hysteria was on their side …

Peer pressure

The PR overseers for Norman Foster, the high panjandrum of contemporary architecture, are keen to maintain standards it seems. I was chatting to a lady yesterday who said that prior to meeting the great man she was told not to refer to him by anything other than his official title, Lord Foster. Although to me he’ll always be simply the Baron Foster of Thames Bank of Reddish in the County of Greater Manchester.

Red card

Business cards, who needs them? Well, very soon, none of us, according to one forward-thinking architect. At a recent event I troubled the young gentleman for his contact details. As he passed them over he revealed that he was working on an app for the iPhone that would soon make cards obsolete. Instead, contact details will be passed back and forth using Bluetooth, with no danger of being lost at the bottom of a handbag, run through a wash or left in a cab. And leaving no excuse for not calling …

Slow fuse

It was great to see so many people at last week’s fuSE1 networking breakfast for those involved in development in Southwark, even if at one point it looked as though it was going to be a bit of an ordeal. Soon after Diana Beattie from Heritage of London Trust began her talk, her PowerPoint presentation popped up on the screen behind her bearing a disconcerting 95 slides. Tensions rose when 10 minutes into the talk we were still on slide four. Should we cancel our lunch plans? Fortunately, it seems to have been a technical hitch, and the talk concluded after a mere 17 slides. And very interesting they were, too.

Hygiene for ministers

Grant Shapps, the housing minister, made it down to a ceremony on a site in Swindon last week to give the coalition’s blessing to TV architectural guru Kevin McCloud’s eco social housing scheme. Rather than turning the traditional sod, the minister was given the task of completing a small wall made of hemp on the Willmott Dixon-built project. It was rather a messy business, but that did not deter Shapps from proceeding directly to the refreshments, consisting of scones and tea served in dainty china cups.

This is a where minister’s entourage really earns its money. One minder, quickly surmising that hempcrete is best not mixed with comestibles, screamed at the startled minister, “Wash your hands first!”

Soon, they’ll be tying their own shoelaces …

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