The end can come when you least expect it: in a foul-mouthed phone call, predicted by a financial analyst, caught at short square leg, or when a small alpine town starts planning your funeral

Cabe’s hidden agenda

Housing design is not, you might think, the issue that will decide the present election. But you’d be wrong. Well, you would be if Cabe get its way. At the start of the year, chief executive Richard Simmons sent an epistle to “friends” of the quango asking them to lobby their MPs on the subject of “the importance of good design”. However, he made it clear that the letter should not seem to be “a lobbying exercise for Cabe”. Why the secrecy? Well, Cabe has been battling the Homes and Communities Agency over housing quality while fighting a rearguard action against Tory MPs who want to cut its funding. Maybe the commission suspects it would be best if it didn’t annoy anyone as they’re about to keep their appointment with destiny.

Bowled over and out

We received a huge response to a blog on our website about redundancies, about 1% of which weren’t libellous. One was from a former worker at a major contractor who was laid off during his trial period: “I was made redundant by bully boy [name removed] who rang me while he was drunk at Lord’s cricket ground and told me to get stuffed.” Good to see the industry’s people skills are as superb as ever.

Hardly worth unpacking

A true but terrifying pearl of wisdom from Kevin Cammack, the analyst from Cenkos Securities, dropped into my inbox on Monday. Following on from his recent column on the desolate state of the first-time buyer market, Cammack noted that the average age of the “unassisted first-time buyer” was now 38. That is worrying, but not as startling as his next point: “That means that there are only 17 years between buying your first home and being eligible to buy your first McCarthy & Stone retirement home.” As if Monday mornings weren’t depressing enough already.

What sounds like a duck

Pity the person co-ordinating Warwickshire cricket team’s match schedule during the £30m redevelopment of the club’s Edgbaston ground. According to in-house project manager Phil Macdonald, one staff member faced the mind-bending conundrum of deciding which of 15 wickets to use each day to prevent building work taking place in the batsman’s eyeline. Thankfully, no such sights bothered the players during the club’s curtain-raiser against Yorkshire this week. However, their ears may just have noticed when, during one tense over, the demolition contractor’s “crusher” was switched on. No doubt that was an innocent mistake …

Scramble the St Bernards!

Construction professionals don’t always do their best to foster friendly international relations. This is especially true of the dozen or so who went on a recent skiing trip to the Alps. I gather the trip’s high jinks culminated in a booze-fuelled prank that involved the party reporting one member as dead when he was merely out skiing. Cue sniffer dogs and a full-on mountain rescue effort that ended up involving the local mayor. “Someone did it for a laugh,” one member of the party told me, “but they soon realised that it had got totally out of hand.” I imagine Monsieur le Maire would agree.

Two wheels good, four wheels bad

To the Rebecca Hossack Gallery for the opening of an “art maps” exhibition entitled One Way Streets. The arty cartographer responsible for this is Peter Murray, director of New London Architecture and keen cyclist. He made a speech championing those who eschew the car, but was preaching to the converted, as swaths of guests arrived by bike, including past RIBA presidents Paul Hyatt and Sunand Prasad. Prasad carried an aluminium case large enough to warrant a van but which instead was ingeniously fastened to his bike. So it’s not just traffic engineers who have the best technical fixes.