With Stanhope's Peter Rogers on the verge of being appointed head of the strategic forum, I have been given some insight into the behind-the-scenes lobbying that has informed the selection process. Wates' chief executive and former BP man Struan Robertson was considered the frontrunner at one stage; Sir David John, chairman of industrial gases group BOC, was also in the running. But I hear that influential voices were determined that the next chair should be an industry insider. It seems people are getting fed up with outsiders coming in and telling construction what to do. "We don't want another Egan," says my source. Dr Rogers, MD
Peter Rogers might be the construction industry's Mr Fixit, but keep him away from your electronic gadgets. At Building's IT discussion, one of our reporters' mini-disc recorder jammed shut, preventing a new disc from being inserted. "Drop it on the floor – that always works," was the Stanhope director's first offering, duly ignored. But when further prodding failed to open the gizmo, Rogers whipped out his Swiss army knife and went to work with a blade. The unfortunate device is currently at Dixons, awaiting repairs.
A labour of love
Ever wondered why there are so many husband-and-wife architect teams? A survey by online recruitment firm Fish4Jobs might have discovered the answer. The company carried out a survey of office romances and found that 48% of architectural profession were single; only the arts and entertainment industry had a higher score. You might think this suggests architects are a loveless bunch – but Fish4Jobs' Paul Smith says it means they're more likely to meet the love of their life across the drawing board. A quarter of all relationships start in the office, Smith tells me. He adds: "If you're looking for love, architecture is one of the best industries to be in."
Look behind you
The usually irrepressible London mayor Ken Livingstone had a bad time of it last week, what with failing to rejoin the Labour party and abandoning his case against the part-privatisation of the Tube. Livingstone also faced a jibe at the opening of the Greater London Authority headquarters. Waiting to cut a GLA cake, Ken asked if anyone had a knife. London newspaper the Evening Standard reports that "a wag" suggested he take the one from his back. I can reveal that the wag in question was none other than Steve Pycroft, chief operating officer at Mace, the construction manager on the GLA. Nothing like buttering up your major clients.
Makeovers causing mayhem
Contractors have been having trouble getting hold of construction materials over the past few months. First, there was a shortage of cladding: orders were having to be placed months in advance to ensure delivery. Then technical problems at British Gypsum's Leicestershire plaster factory in June left plasterers around the country at a loose end. And earlier this month, the collapse of specialist steelmaker ASW left purchasers wondering how long supplies of rebar would last. But one site manager tells me the situation is far more serious than anyone realises. The glut of home makeover programmes on the television is leading to a shortage of another must-have material: glass bricks.
Living in Wayne's world
Not content with reinventing the nation's dreadful volume housing, fashion designer Wayne Hemingway is determined to root out another design nightmare. He recently gave a presentation to design watchdog CABE on the poor quality of children's playground equipment. CABE chief executive Jon Rouse says Hemingway is particularly determined to root out one particular scourge – wooden farmyard animals mounted on springs. "He's launching a campaign against the springy chicken," Rouse tells me.
The Bolshy Papers
I'm delighted to see that the revolutionary spirit of Red Clydeside has been revived in Glasgow by a self-styled workers co-operative of architects, designers, teachers and activists calling themselves Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space. The co-operative has spread its revolutionary message through Glasgow's suburbs on a three-wheeler van named Urban Cabaret. The message is also contained in a quarterly journal, Glaspaper, which takes potshots at Glasgow's housing crisis, PFI and council privatisation. Understandably short on advertisements, the anti-capitalist journalists blithely invent their own. One full-page advert is for Glasgow Demolition. "Is there a building in your way?" it asks. "Can't be bothered with a careful renovation? Does your investment need more space?" That's what I call a can-do attitude.