This week, we entice you with a hot Valentine’s Day date, a champagne-fuelled test drive and Building’s own interpretation of The Hustler

A head for figures

Congratulations to Rob Johnson, the former Jarvis director who was made chief executive of concrete contractor John Doyle at the firm’s Christmas party – despite his own best efforts to miss the event. Pleased that he had arrived in good time at the Portman Hotel in London’s West End, Johnson was less pleased to discover that there was no John Doyle party booked there. Having left his mobile at home and with no idea where in fact the party was taking place, he somehow managed to pluck chairman Stef Stefanou’s number from the depths of his memory just in time to reach the correct venue and hear Stefanou’s surprise announcement that he had been promoted. Clearly better with numbers than he is with addresses …

Mack’s many mates

I hear that Alan Mack, the former Scottish parliament project director, has become rather popular since announcing that he is moving to Dubai to head up a £2bn project for Carillion. Word reaches me that Atkins director Bernard Ainsworth is one of many who have been hunting down cheap flights to the United Arab Emirates to pay Mack a visit. Apparently Ainsworth has already requested that his friend find accommodation large enough for him to holiday in comfort.

Blue Valentines

Trade body the Electrical Contractors Association has gone beyond the call of duty this week by offering lonely contractors somewhere to strike it lucky on Valentine’s Day. But before anyone gets too excited, it’s worth pointing out that the event in question is the ECA annual dinner, wisely booked this year for the evening of 14 February. It seems a fair bet to say that not too many “sparks” of love will be flying among the largely male guest list at London’s Grosvenor Hotel, though there may be a few disgruntled spouses around.

What all drinks events need …

Here’s hoping the Berkeley Homes drinks event at its Royal Arsenal Woolwich development will be properly policed next week. Guests at the event are offered the chance to test-drive a sports car, as well as enjoying “an evening of champagne”. With the event entitled “Driving Home”, this has unsurprisingly raised a few eyebrows.

Let battle commence

Further to Building’s demolition of QS Gleeds’ crack pool team, I can reveal that another victim – sorry, opponent – has thrown its hat into the ring. While a team from Cyril Sweett initially appeared interested before downgrading the competition to a gentle game of 10-pin bowling, fellow QS Faithful & Gould is made of sterner stuff. Managing director Richard Hall has issued a formal challenge, postscripted with the disconcerting revelation that at one point he was the Teesside Under-18 snooker champion. It’ll take more than that to scare us, Hall …

The other Olympics

Apparently unsatisfied with one sporting triumph, London mayor Ken Livingstone this week launched a battle to secure further Olympics glory for the capital. The mayor’s target, however, is slightly less familiar than his first: the Worldskills tournament, formerly known as the Skills Olympics. If Livingstone gets his way, contestants from 42 countries will gather in London in 2011 to find the brightest young things in trades such as plumbing and bricklaying. Other contenders hoping to host the event include Melbourne, Gothenburg and French city Nantes. Paris, it seems, isn’t up for the fight.

Geoff Wright is used to short foreign trips, but has he just set a record for the shortest-ever skiing jaunt? I hear that the Hammerson construction director spent last weekend on a whistlestop trip to the French resort of Val d’Isère. But Wright wasn’t scoping out options for an Alpine shopping centre. No, the trip was a labour of paternal duty - to drop off his youngest son, who is spending the season working in the village.

Cold home comforts

Bon voyage to Michael Maslin, the Faber Maunsell director heading up designs for the British Antarctic Survey’s new base in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. Maslin departed on Monday for a six-week trip to the site with architect Hugh Broughton, but Hansom was lucky enough to see the current designs for the research station just before he jetted off. At present, the conceptual drawings feature recreational wall climbing facilities for bored polar researchers. “We might have to change those,” revealed Maslin, a tad sheepishly. “They’re a bit too close to the bar.”