Our aged correspondent discovers politicians braving the rain and Scotland, prefab going all holier-than-thou and plans afoot for caning it in Cannes
Good plain Cook
I was surprised to find myself waiting for a taxi at Templecombe station in Dorset with the Right Honourable Robin Cook, former ethical foreign secretary and scourge of Blair’s transatlantic toadyism. Mr Cook is a well known horse-racing pundit, and he’d gone west to spectate at Wincanton races, which were partly sponsored by support services group Connaught. With no other taxis or jags in sight, Cook was not too proud to cadge a lift with the Connaught entourage. I am glad to report he was a little more charming than the dread John McCririck, pundit and Celebrity Big Brother star, who also braved the rain.
Here’s the form
Whatever happened to those eye-catching designs for the government’s Schools for the Future programme, announced last year to the accompaniment of fanfares? Answer: nothing much. However, now I hear that one of the secondary schools may actually be built.
Yes, it seems Wilkinson Eyre’s design is being considered as a suitable plan for the Thames Bridge College city academy. I’m told it will have a sports bent and will be backed by Reading chairman and publishing giant John Madejski. Whoever the contractor is, they should thank their lucky stars that it’s not the bonkers Alsop multistorey-school-on-stilts design being used …
We all know John Prescott puts his faith in standardised prefab to solve the nation’s housing crisis. But I can now reveal that it is the answer to someone else’s prayer – the Mormons. They have turned to standardisation because they build 400 churches each year, and 20 of its European ones are to be based on standardised designs by McBains Cooper. They come in a choice of five sizes and three elevated styles – classical (pictured), traditional or renaissance. Could it be that the religious fervour of the Mormon Church has lifted prefab to a higher plain?
Foster’s guten tag
I’m told there has been a happy end of sorts at Foster and Partners’ latest City job. The relatively diminutive 16-storey Moorhouse building in EC2 was launched last week. Contractor Skanska finished the work just before Christmas, about three months behind schedule, for joint client Hammerson and Henderson. But despite the delay the scheme is already attracting interest, with German bank HypoVereinsbank due to snap up a third of the space already. Well, it surely couldn’t fill up any slower than its more famous sibling Swiss Re, which was completed last year …
Sun, sea and sexagenarians
So, MIPIM is nearly upon us again. I hear the Cannes schmooze-fest will be notable this year for quite a landmark for one well-known industry bod. It will coincide with the 60th birthday of one Benny Kelly, director of Sir Robert McAlpine, and I hear there will be quite a bash to celebrate his achievement. My spies tell me it will include a special This Is Your Life show for Benny, although apparently Michael Aspel has yet to confirm.