Our undercover hero searches for a festive contractor and goes to a masked ball and finds he doesn't recognise anybody. Can you help him out?
A Christmas three
At least revellers at the Marks Barfield party were getting into the Christmas spirit, which is more than can be said for the rest of the industry. Our request for details of festive construction sites resulted in a feeble three calls. Our reporters then called 20 major contractors, and none of them had so much as a string of fairy lights to brighten up their scaffolding. It seems contractors have come over all Scrooge-like, and cancelled the tinsel. Is it fear of recession, or are health and safety rules to blame? "You've got to think about these things," says Gary Hague, communications manager at Willmott Dixon. Indeed, but a little imagination can still go a long way at Christmas.

And three firms still making an effort have shown how. Contractor Bluestone flew in an honoured guest from Lapland to switch on the Christmas lights at their site in Crawley, Surrey and it invited children at the adjacent St Margaret's Primary School along to watch.

Shepherd gave a new twist to a school's Christmas card competition by fabricating the winning design and installing it on all major sites, including the £25m refurbishment of Swan House, Newcastle. And those jolly Swedes at Skanska not only turned the Swiss Re tower into a giant Christmas tree (see page 28) but also made an effort to brighten up a City site with a tree and seasonal greeting.

So, it's mince pies and mulled wine for the seasonal trio – and a Brussels sprout for the rest.