The man who is to gossip what echidnas are to yodelling files another dispatch. This week we have rude words, snoring lawyers and West Ham United

Trip of a lunchtime

Aren’t civil servants a busy lot? Well, sort of. On Tuesday, officials from the ODPM were invited to an all-expenses-paid tour of … the Thames Gateway. It seems the department is worried that its pen pushers don’t know enough about the plans for the growth area. Well aren’t we all?

And if anyone at Eland House missed out, there’s no need to worry: there’ll be another knees-up in Stratford and the Lea Valley next month.

You are feeling very sleepy …

Preparing for a night out at Building’s Health and Safety Awards last week clearly put a strain on at least one of the 800 guests at the event. Dominic Helps, the eminent construction lawyer and Building columnist, was so exhausted by the experience that he took the opportunity to catch a quick snooze during the post-dinner entertainment. Sadly for Dominic, his 40 winks were disturbed by heartless conjuror Paul Zenon, who incorporated him into his act. At least it saved the magician the bother of hypnotising a conscious member of the audience.


There was one guest at the Grosvenor Hotel ceremony who was only too wide awake … with excitement. The man in question was Kevin Myers, the Health and Safety Executive’s outgoing chief inspector for construction. He picked up an outstanding achievement award but it wasn’t his only cause for celebration that night. Myers is a keen West Ham supporter, and kept nipping out to check the score in the championship play-off semi-final between West Ham and Ipswich. The Hammers won 2-0. Let’s hope that he’s still as happy after Monday’s final.

Dirty old town

The Highways Agency has had a task on its hands rewriting subtly defaced road signs in Shilbottle, Northumberland. Seven of them had to be touched up after an extraordinarily witty prankster turned the first “l” in “Shilbottle” into a “t”. I understand that towns on the River Uck have a somewhat similar problem.

Will work for canapés

Seeking a new non-exec with an inside knowledge of Westminister and housing to boot? I hear Nick Raynsford, MP for Greenwich and construction’s favourite ex-minister, is looking for a slot on an industry board. The man in question can, of course, be contacted at the House of Commons.

Ray and Ronan

I hear Ray O’Rourke put on a typically splendid bash a couple of weekends ago at the annual Laing O’Rourke ball. I’m told that former Boyzone star and fellow Irishman Ronan Keating put on a star turn at the event. “I’ve never seen so many middle-aged women on a dance floor before,” one shocked onlooker tells me.

Bridge of sighs

At the opening of the new Pier 6 passenger bridge at Gatwick’s North Terminal last week, I found myself feeling a little hot under the collar. Walking along the 197 m structure, I noticed that the air-conditioning was far less powerful there than elsewhere in the terminal. A spokesperson told me that this was the result of the large number of people – estimated at 350 – who were walking across the bridge for the opening. Considering that if air travel increases at its present rate, the entire population of Britain will soon be crossing the bridge every day, some form of fan may eventually have to be installed.

Keeping it real
Keeping it real
My opinion of “edgy” trip-hop collective Massive Attack took a knock this week when I met a QS who worked on the east London tower block where they filmed the video for their 1991 hit Unfinished Sympathy. Rather than shoot the promo in one of many graffiti-covered stairwells in the area, Daddy G and Mushroom (that’s Grant and Andrew to their mums) found a more salubrious way of achieving ghetto street cred – defacing a newly done-up block and cleaning it again before it was handed back to Tower Hamlets council. Rock ’n’ roll just isn’t the same …