A QS quiz team counts its brain cells and euros, the industry’s fast-track papal election and Owen Luder perfects his shooting and bow-tie-tying techniques

QSs get quizzical

May I pass on my congratulations to the QS and architectural team at Southwark council. Team Southwark (pictured below) won a trip to Paris in the inaugural QS quiz last week, which celebrated the launch of Building’s new sister magazine QS News. A colleague insists that they were lucky though: the Building and QS News team was just pipped into second place (or the losers’ spot, as the rest of our office describes it). Bill Bradford, Southwark’s team captain, was awed by his own powers of recall. “How I remembered the 1960s hit Concrete and Clay was performed by Unit 4+2 I’ll never know.” More awesome examples of QS brain power in this week’s QS News.

Good sportin’ fun

I had a jolly nice day out with two-time former RIBA president Owen Luder last week, and did he tell me some fascinating snippets … I fear that some of the tales are a bit hush-hush, but I’ll share this one with you. With a knack for huntin’ and shootin’ that goes admirably with his bow-tie and tweed image, Luder once took out his air rifle and shot two pigeons in the back garden of his Westminster home. One dropped instantly, while the other managed a few last flaps before flopping into next door’s garden – which happens to belong to one Roy Hattersley. The former Labour deputy leader was soon at the fence remonstrating that it was illegal to fire a gun within 100 m of a highway. Politicians, eh? Always sticklers for details.

Dear John

Word reaches me that Kier chief executive John Dodds’ recent pleas to the government on behalf of the 11 contractors on the Procure21 scheme may fall on deaf ears. Demanding to know whether the programme would survive after the election, Dodds wrote a letter to health secretary John Reid. Unfortunately, this may have allowed it to become ensnared in the internal Labour Party bickering machine. Officials are worried that, because the letter praised Reid’s predecessor, Alan Milburn, for setting up Procure21, Reid may not give it the attention it deserves.

White smoke on site

I hear that Benny Kelly, director at contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, has been attracting a bit of good-natured ribbing since the inauguration of Pope Benedict. A friend tells me Kelly’s first name is the same as that adopted by the head of the Catholic Church, hence the Irishman being dubbed Pope as he entered a meeting last week.

A row after a row

The annual RICS under-35s MATRIX bash at the Dorchester had a guest appearance from some breathless Gleeds QSs earlier this month. Fresh from their exertions at a charity tsunami rowathon, the tracksuited rowers were denied entry by the doorman as they didn’t comply with the black-tie dress code. “I wouldn't mind,” said Gleeds partner Stuart Earl, “but I am sure I heard the term ‘chavs’ muttered under their breath – and we only came to collect the raffle money.”

The nine-second barrier
The nine-second barrier
Okay, since you asked, one more Luder story. Luder tells me that he and fellow architect Peter Murray held a bow-tie-tying contest in the early 1980s and both came in at a

rather handy nine seconds (Murray edged the race by about a 10th of a second, although rumour has it that this might have had something to do with Luder downing a couple of lunchtime snifters). Any dapper architects out there today who think they can beat that? If so, please email my colleague on mleftly@cmpinformation.com