How the British game of Poohsticks could be an Olympic winner, Vanessa Feltz is let loose on site and Building makes an impression in snowy Siberia

A game with very little brain

The Diana Memorial Fountain in London’s Hyde Park has been under fire of late, chiefly because design problems with the attraction’s surface have meant folk keep slipping over and braining themselves. However, gladder tidings might not be far away. One alert reader has suggested the fountain could be reworked into the official London 2012 Olympic venue for Poohsticks, the AA Milne-devised game (yet to be ratified as an event) where contestants drop sticks into a stream and see which one floats down river first. The gold medal winner would presumably either be the owner of the fastest stick or the last man standing after the rest of the field have knocked themselves unconscious.

Take a letter? No! Waaah …

The man with the best name in construction, ROK boss Garvis Snook, obviously makes sure that his immediate staff are equally well-monikered. The best name in the personal assistant of construction boss sub-category goes to Snook’s PA, one Maxine Tantrum.

To the manor born

Housing minister Keith Hill is in trouble with the Traditional Architecture Group over that most vexing of political issues – the design of country houses. Hill has rather rashly said that he wants new country houses to be innovative, contemporary and ground-breaking. To the Traditional Architecture Group, such words mean just one thing – modernist blobs that will startle the servants on country estates up and down the land. “The effect of all this is that a particular style, ideology or taste will be imposed upon the public by the government,” it sniffs. “This is a very disturbing situation on many levels.” And I’m sure Jeremy, Lucinda and all their other countrified clients would raise a glass to that.

Vanessa uncaged

The picture above does not show, as some have suggested, Vanessa Feltz in a wooden cage. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on which way you look at it), Ms Feltz has merely been shadowing young construction apprentices at contractor Higgins’ £110m Silwood Estate in New Cross, London, to examine the plight of women in construction. Hopefully, Vanessa’s show will be a roaring success when it airs in September – otherwise she could be back on site full-time.

Bricking it

It’s a poor look-out for the industry. Last week I was hobnobbing with a leading structural engineer when the conversation turned to the low calibre of graduates job-hunting after university. Everyone’s familiar with architecture students with a head full of post-structural theory and no concept of how to build a low wall. In the engineering world, though, they have a way of sorting out the wheat from the chaff: this firm asks all its prospective employees at interview to cite the dimensions of a brick. Fearful students reading this can take comfort from the fact that Hansom doesn’t know either.

Big in Novosibirsk
Big in Novosibirsk
It hardly needed saying, but conclusive proof has reached us that Building is a magazine of global reach. Valery Shahlin, of the unputdownable Siberian journal Vedomosti, emails us from Novosibirsk to ask if his paper can reprint our superlative article on the installation of the Wembley arch (16 July). Perhaps our Russian readers are interested in using Wembley’s closing roof technology to stop their football matches disappearing under snowdrifts. Or perhaps the good people of Siberia simply appreciate cutting-edge construction journalism when they see it.