Yes, folks, the season of goodwill is upon us and it’s easy to forget the intrigue, bile, acrimony and disappointments of the past year. So here’s a reminder …
On the Scottish parliament
10 December What’s eating you?
I hear things got a little fractious at the ICE’s annual dinner in Edinburgh. After splendid nosh, Marshall Scott, head of Balfour Beatty Scotland, had settled back to enjoy the speeches. First was Alex Neil, MSP for Central Scotland, who berated Balfour’s table for the cost overruns at Holyrood. Problem was, Balfour didn’t work on the parliament. Scott wasn’t happy. He elicited an apology from the ICE’s president but was prevented from obtaining more serious satisfaction from the MSP by the toastmaster, who did a sterling job at calming the situation, despite being held by the lapels.
8 October Floor double-oh-sheven
One dignitary who will be present at Holyrood will be the so-called “King of Scotland” Sean Connery. I understand that Connery’s mellifluous tones will inform those using the lifts which floor they have reached. In case you’re wondering how much this contributed to the building’s £431m price tag, I’m told Connery offered his vocal services gratis.
On the Olympic bid
10 December Body talk is hot stuff
London 2012’s dream team was one man short when the Olympic masterplanners gathered at London’s Royal College of Physicians last week. Allies and Morrison’s Bob Allies, HOK Sport’s John Barrow and Jason Prior from EDAW all turned up for the lecture, but Foreign Office Architects’ Alejandro Zaera-Polo was stuck in India with an ailment. This meant Prior, whose metier is strategic planning, was lumbered with explaining the visionary thinking behind Alejandro’s stadium designs, based on human muscles. As the screen flashed between images of taut six-packs and flowing bodies, the unassuming Prior appeared ill at ease. “I’m getting pretty hot under the collar talking about all this,” he confessed.
26 November Very much the man in form
Much hilarity at the official launch of London 2012’s Olympic bid document at Canary Wharf.
A slick presentation was followed by a star panel of Lord Coe, Tessa Jowell, Jonathan Edwards and good old Ken Livingstone, who brought his usual gentle humour to the occasion. First he castigated Britain’s “Victor Meldrew” pessimism over the games. Then a young Times journalist asked him if he could think of any negative aspects to the bid. “Well,” he drawled, “the only negative aspect of the whole thing is that in 2012 your newspaper will still be here.” Ken’s clearly not a fan of the new compact quality.
10 September Hey, Sven baby!
All the stars came out to play last Wednesday for the Wembley stadium topping out ceremony – Tony Blair, David Beckham, Sven-Goran Eriksson … Mike Jeffries. Yes, Atkins’ chairman Jeffries was mixing it with the A-list crowd like a Big Brother winner in Stringfellows. What’s more, Multiplex boss Noel Henderson got to fulfil all his Mark Lawrenson fantasies by being interviewed by Ray Stubbs. Just a shame that Cleveland Bridge, the people that actually built it, weren’t invited …
15 October Talking of charm
As the acrimony over the Wembley stadium project continues, I was reminded of the early days of the scheme, back when my old friend Ken Bates was in charge. The feisty former Chelsea chairman had announced a change to the scheme without informing the project team.
This clearly ruffled feathers at Foster and Partners and HOK, so it was decided Lord Foster himself would have a sit-down with Ken. Foster duly turned up to Bates’ office and was greeted with his customary charm. “How the f*** did you become a lord?” were apparently the first words he uttered to the world-famous architect.
On the BBC
18 June Lunching with wolves
I hear Gleeds’ move from its Victorian pile in Regent Street to trendy premises in New Cavendish Street – down the road from key client the BBC – has proved a mixed blessing. Staff at the consultant’s august client have discovered its in-house cafe, “Gusto”, is not only rather good but also highly subsidised. Suddenly BBC staff seem to be taking over the new deli bar. “We now call it ‘Gutso’,” says my source.
6 February Nigel in hot water
Nigel “hard work” Griffiths, our valued construction minister, has been keeping a low profile of late. But he got into difficulties this week after he stuck his Midlothian oar into the increasingly turbulent Bath Spa row. Apparently, he invited representatives from Mowlem, Grimshaw and the local council to round table talks. It seems the Grifter succeeded in uniting those present to the extent that they all now hate him as well as one another. Under the headline “Blair should get rid of this joker”, the Bath Chronicle fumed about “the sheer arrogance of the man”, and it urged the PM to “make sure that this joker is removed from the pack whenever the junior echelons of government are reshuffled”. Sounds as if everyone should meet up for a day of aquathermal relaxation.
26 November The small cure-all
I see those cunning foxes at New Labour have come up with a new wheeze for sidestepping all those targets they set themselves. First there was the “10-year transport plan”, which was dealt with by ordering everyone in Whitehall not to talk about it any more. Now I hear of another Jason Robinsonesque sidestep with regard to the goal of building 100 hospitals by 2010. This target remains, but from now on it will include small hospitals that are easier to build. Trebles all round!
On the future (hit and miss)
12 March Relatively good news
Jarvis’ PR team must have breathed a mighty sigh of relief last week after the BBC’s Money Programme failed to present any new dirt.
Jarvis brushed the programme off as “full of hot air” – and its shares promptly improved.
Is this a sign that the firm has passed its nadir, I wonder?
19 March Rooney tunes
Who says everyone at MIPIM is obsessed with property? I heard some interesting gossip on an unrelated subject. A well-placed source informs me that Everton wunderkind Wayne Rooney is off to Manchester United at the end of the season …