Aristotle said tragedy requires conflict, pain, pity and fear. So please locate the packet of tissues free with this week’s issue and read on …

A tense encounter

Architectural types had a fine time bidding farewell to CABE design review veteran Peter Stewart at the “Design Review 2” event, which was held in Sir Terry Farrell’s new Home Office. The only problem was that the government had just taken CABE’s advice and called a public inquiry into Berkeley Homes’ Woolwich Arsenal project. The Greater London Authority people present glared over at CABE’s Richard Simmons. “This project is to deliver 3000 homes in the Thames Gateway,” said one, “and now it’s been delayed for two years.” Luckily, all concerned stayed off the free booze long enough to avoid fisticuffs.

Pull yourself together, man

Construction minister Nigel Griffiths is getting on famously with the councillors of Bath and North East Somerset council. Not. Having stepped in to the troubled waters of Bath Spa and sat down heavily on Mowlem’s side, poor old Nige now has half of Bath council writing to his boss Patricia Hewitt at the DTI demanding head on platter with apple. Worst of all, he made a series of elementary clangers in the House of Commons debate on the subject. First he lambasted the council’s failure to respond to Mowlem’s offer to complete the Spa for £26m, unaware that BANES only received Mowlem’s detailed offer last week. Then he called the paint Krautoxin “Kartoxon”. Best of all was his belief that the council was called Bath and North West Somerset. Doh.

Where’s your tool?

You’d think that with a couple of film projects and many fundraising gigs in the offing, Vinnie Jones would be busy at the moment. But somehow he’s found the time to star in a short film. This features the Watford hard man as a hippie in 1960s California exploring free love, meditation and non-violent protest. No, you’re right, it doesn’t really. In fact it shows him wielding cordless power tools from the new Brute Tough range, and you can catch it from 1 April at the website As the proud winner of Male Cigar Personality of the Year 2000, perhaps Vinnie is hoping to win the coveted title of Male Power Tool Personality of the Year. If it comes down to a fight between him and Handy Andy, I know who my money’s on.

The two Johns

So the speculation was right … John McDonough is leaving Carillion. The chief executive confirmed the resignation rumour two weeks ago during the company’s annual results meeting. Unfortunately for gossipmongers like me, it’s not that John McDonough who is departing, but a namesake who works in the group’s private finance unit.

Heron ahoy

Speaking of Johns, I hear John Callcutt failed to show up at the opening of of Crest Nicholson’s Brentwood office. He had been due to make a speech, but Stephen Stone did it instead. Apparently chief executive Callcutt was passing his time hanging from the good ship Crest’s rigging with a cutlass in one hand and a flintlock pistol in the other, trying to repel borders from Gerald Ronson’s Heron Corporation.

Money worries

A cautionary tale from a regenerator of my acquaintance, who played a crucial role in the development of an estate of affordable homes in the South-east. The triumph was somewhat marred after the houses were sold: it seems that they had all gone to buy-to-let landlords who’d used them to house asylum seekers and other unfortunates on behalf of the council. Apparently this added up to the “most expensive way ever found to provide temporary accommodation …”

Play nicely, children
Play nicely, children
The Construction Industry Training Board and the board of the CSCS skills card scheme were due to put their highly publicised differences on hold this week as they united in celebration of the 10th birthday of the scheme. A lunch was due to be held in Westminster on Wednesday, allowing all parties involved to forget recent quarrels and engage in lighthearted merriment. The organisers, however, may not have been so sure that the event would run smoothly. In the schedule for the event, lunch is followed by an “opportunity to visit the health and safety mobile unit”. What were they expecting to happen?