… this week we bring you airborne executives, amphibious journalists, frustrated ministers, belligerent philanthropists, disguised contractors and engineering gourmands …

Give Bob a wide berth

A warning to all architects out there: if you bump into Bob Geldof at a party, steer clear of him, because his legendary love of humanity doesn’t extend to you. “Ninety-nine per cent of architects are shite. They’re just people who create buildings who make others depressed on their way to work,” says Sir Bob in Sydney Pollack’s documentary on Frank Gehry (who, of course, belongs to the favoured 1%). For the others, his solution is simply “to hit them”. One may rightly wonder why on earth Geldof is doing in a film on the great man. Well, once on tour in Germany he was “jolted out of his twilight state” when his eyes fell upon Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum. That’s architectural criticism at its most, er, basic …

Above it all

I hear Gary Sullivan, managing director of construction logistics firm Wilson James, will be getting the Thames Gateway Forum off to a flying start this month. At a charity auction at the recent Little Britain sailing event on the Isle of Wight, Sullivan landed the chance to wing-walk on a biplane. And where better to take his little stroll than up and down the Thames during this year’s regeneration conference?

Pawns in their game

And talking of matters maritime, the competitive spirit was high at the Polypipe Civils eighth annual sailing regatta at Port Solent, Hampshire. Building was assigned to a yacht with other rookie sailors who found themselves mere pawns in a competition that had been going on the whole summer. After a frantic day under the polite yet firm control of skipper Nick, the clueless crew emerged a triumphant fifth out of 83 yachts. Not bad considering the levels of experience among the competition – the winning boat, Polypipe 2, had Olympic medal-winning Ian Walker on board.

Mixed nuts – and bolts
Credit: Scott Garrett

Mixed nuts – and bolts

Engineers from Halcrow tried to combine their construction and culinary expertise last week, when they refereed a school competition to bake cakes inspired by its projects. The challenge of the “design-and-bake” contracts fell to Peterborough High School, which was enlisted to help celebrate Halcrow’s 20th year in the city. The prize for the most innovative entry surely has to go to the scale model of a bridge, created from chocolate sponge.

A Pretty house for Mrs Thatcher

David Pretty was in reflective mood last week when he oversaw his last set of Barratt results as chief executive. When asked about some of the highlights of his career they included ”personally selling a home to Margaret Thatcher”.

Wicks’ problems with wind

Poor old Malcolm Wicks. The energy minister’s frantic attempts to advance the sustainability and energy agenda have suffered a setback. Speaking at a fringe event on nuclear power, Wicks revealed that his plans to put a wind turbine on his garage roof in Croydon have run into local opposition. “It is proving quite a challenge, I have to admit,” he said.

International man of mystery revealed

For those of you waiting in eager anticipation of the results of our photo competition from last week, the person posing as Austin Powers alongside Geoff Wright (dressed as Elvis) was Benny Kelly from Sir Robert McAlpine. Congratulations to Carol Watson who after speculating whether it could have been Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame, identified Mr Kelly. She wins a £25 drinks voucher.