A sex and death special takes us into the macabre world of home refurbishment and reveals what steel erectors have to look so pleased about
A terminal position
Forget the chairmanship of the strategic forum: the position of project director at Heathrow Terminal 5 is shaping up as the plum job of the year. After Norman Haste left the post a few months ago, BAA group construction director Andrew Wolstenholme stepped in until a successor could be found. That person was widely assumed to be Deryk Eke, whose two-year secondment to Whitehall ends next month, but now I hear that Wolstenholme would like to hang on to the job.

BAA's official line is that the search for a candidate is still continuing but I am told that Wolstenholme is increasingly acting as if the job is his already.

They're for the family album
Fashion guru Wayne Hemingway was chuffed about his appearance on Building's front cover earlier this month – and it appears that he was not the only one. He phoned up to thank our production team and to ask if we could send him a stack of extra copies.

"Didn't you get the last lot we sent you?" we asked. "Yeah," he replied, "but my mum nicked them."

To the tower born
Hemingway's comments about architects not caring about the cost of their housing schemes struck a chord with one of our readers. Warren Smith is managing director of LPC, a developer in the North-west. He's trying to refurbish some tower blocks in Liverpool but can't find a suitable architect. "We've had household-name architects in and they all want to spend £60,000 refurbishing each flat," he complains. "That's what we want to sell them for!" So now he wants to know if Hemingway is interested in working for him instead. "After all, he was brought up in a tower block …"

House of pain
John Welsh, editor of Building's sister publication Property Week, has got the builders in, he tells me. Apparently, his house is to be completely refurbished and he'll be spending his summer holidays supervising the work. The omens are, however, ominous: a few years ago, Welsh wrote a book called Modern Houses about people who embark on domestic architecture projects. Of the 30 clients included in the book, a dozen or so have since suffered death, serious illness or the breakdown of their relationships.

Are you sure you're doing the right thing, John?

Gee, thanks, Cavity Man!
As it's the silly season and there's not much gossip around, I'm grateful to the National Cavity Insulation Association for sending in this photo. It shows the prime minister getting a lesson in cavity wall insulation from operative Neil Jones. The occasion was the completion of the five-millionth insulation job under the government's Warm Front grant scheme – but the question is: what are they saying? Send in your caption to building@buildergroup.co.uk and I'll send a bottle of bubbly to the person who writes the funniest one.

Pool of woe
I detect mutterings of discontent from Stoke Newington. The north-east London suburb is home to Clissold Leisure Centre, the Stephen Hodder-designed facility that opened in February two years late and more than £20m over budget. But the state-of-the-art centre continues to suffer hiccups. The latest allegation is that the pool is a few centimetres short of the required 25 m – a user attempted to measure it but was chased out by management.

There is also an alarming rumour that the pool's dramatic water flume may have to be demolished. The structure has been cordoned off since the building opened, and has yet to get a safety certificate. Now, I hear that Hackney council is seeking demolition tenders.

Workers' playtime
A colleague recently visited a steel-frame housing factory in Ringaskiddy, south-east Ireland. The plant is just a stone's throw from Pfizer's massive pharmaceutical works, which makes much of the world's supply of Viagra. The guys at the steel-frame factory joke that the outflow from the drug plant is piped directly into their facility – cue amusing remarks about steel erections.

Living at death’s door

While showing a colleague around a residential project in west London, architect Piers Gough pointed out the view enjoyed by a couple of old ladies, whose apartment block is being refurbished as part of the scheme. The view in one direction is dominated by a huge sign above an undertaker’s premises that reads “funerals”; in the other direction, the skyline is dominated by a church spire. “They’ve got everything they need, right on their doorstep,” said the mischievous designer.