Assembled dignitaries at the topping-out ceremony for Belgrave House in Victoria last week were bubbling with enthusiasm at how well the project had gone. Such was the prevailing climate of solidarity that a dozen or so of the top brass formed an impromptu, cross-firm supergroup in the post-ceremony knees-up at Christopher's American Grille. Construction luminaries who moments before had been talking fit-outs and finance suddenly produced guitars and proceeded to accompany a motley crew of vocalists belting out the classics. In the thick of it were commercial directors of developer Grosvenor, Jeremy Titchen and Charlie Briscoe, but leading the fray was Henry Squire of architect Squire and Partners. Armed only with a pair of maracas and a glass of bubbly, Squire Jr conducted the masses through raucous renditions of A Little Help From My Friends, Get Back and, most appropriately, Perfect Day.
Just call him 'Chopper' Griffiths
New construction minister Nigel Griffiths, presumably miffed by accusations that his appointment constitutes a downgrading of the role, will do anything to promote himself as a high-flyer. Speaking at a fundraising bash for the National Association of Women in Construction this week, Griffiths announced he had that day achieved a lifelong ambition – to qualify as a helicopter pilot. "He's clocked up 35 to 40 hours," gushed one aide, impressed by the minister's ability to find time for such off-beam pursuits. It's not clear whether Griffiths will be using his new skill to take in a few construction sites, but it certainly gives him an escape option should he get trapped in a building with David Steel.
See you in court
Building readers are an optimistic bunch. In an attempt to drum up inspiration for the closest Britain has to a tennis hero, Tim Henman, Building asked readers to vote on our website as to whether Tim could ever snatch the elusive Wimbledon title. More than three-quarters of you voted in the negative. I was glad to see, however, that the industry is doing something to foster our budding tennis talent – regional contractor Bluestone has just completed a tennis academy at the Centrecourt Hotel in Basingstoke (pictured).
Back down to business
New Atkins chief Keith Clarke has a habit of being out of the UK at key moments in his career. The superconsultant boss was holidaying in Greece when his former firm, Kvaerner UK, was bought by Skanska in 2000. And the day of his big move from the Swedish giant to the Atkins hot seat? He was on the other side of Europe, in Warsaw. Still, I suspect he'll be homebound for some time.