Nothing much happening this week: just terror in a north London university, the dark night of the soul in an Arctic archipelago and naked waterskiing …
Exciting news
I hear that there was a low-key opening for the latest PFI hospital, despite the fact that the ribbon was cut by Tony Blair himself. Before doing the honours, he described the £28m Hexham General as "quite simply, one of the most exciting hospital developments in the country". Unfortunately, this hot news was only reported by journalists in the Northumberland area. The nationals seemed to have other things on their mind regarding our dear leader. Oh well – after this week the PM may feel like going back for a longer visit.

No publicity
Why is the London Metropolitan University so furtive about its Libeskind extension? I ask because the two Building journalists who went to behold Daniel's "startling distortions and heart rending symbolism" were frogmarched through it by a large contingent of minders who expressly forbade interior photographs. However, one of the pair did manage to sneak off and take this shaky snap before having his fingers broken by apologetic security personnel.

The black hole of Spitsbergen
Anyone disobliged by the brisk weather we've been having this week may take comfort from the experiences of QSs working for Gleeds.

The firm's land and minerals arm has sent surveyors to Spitsbergen, a clutch of islands 400 miles north of Norway, where the average temperature is –23°C, the polar bears outnumber the humans and the sun never rises in winter. They are there to help Skanska set up a 6 km conveyor belt system for coal. I hope they took their mittens with them.

A demanding mistress
I notice my distant cousin TC Hansard (who started a parliamentary record some time before I founded this journal) has made a Freudian dictation error. His record of written answers for 22 January records that one Mr Love asked for an assessment of "the possible potential saving to health and social care budgets made from ensuring that a percentage of all new housing has wheelchair access". To which Yvette Cooper apparently replied: "All newly built homes must meet the requirement of Tart M of the Building Regulations." That must have been the bit that Alan Clark had a hand in …

Tesco's tough love
I see that retail hyperpower Tesco has snapped up another 45 London convenience stores last week. Good news for some lucky suppliers, you may well think. Well, yes – and then again, no. One contractor I was chatting to recently told me of its experiences with the big T. "We were asked to cut our price by 10% last year which we did," he said. And how did Tesco show its appreciation for such admirable efficiency? "It told us to knock them down another 10% this year."

A chill wind indeed

Finally, I would like to offer some comfort to those Gleeds staff who are having their copies of Building airdropped to them at 79°N. It seems that Ian Maund, Shepherd Construction’s senior QS, has been through a shrivelling experience to rival theirs. I will spare you the photo, but take it from me that Ian recently did a lap of the Chase waterskiing club in his birthday suit. I’m told he didn’t attempt any dangerous jumps, but did raise £1219 for charity. Are all QSs masochists or what?