There are still chances out there to make big bucks, it seems, from trillion-dollar salaries to a sure thing on the racetrack. But if nothing works out, you can always drown your sorrows in a roomful of gin

Get it off your chest

Who knew John “Two Jags” Prescott mingled with the little people? A colleague had the good fortune to bump into the former deputy PM last week at WH Smith in King’s Cross station. As conversation flowed, Prezza seemed very interested to hear that she wrote about the construction industry.

“Oh god – what are things like for that lot?” he asked. Not great, said she. “It’s all that land people are sitting on,” grumbled Prescott. “Once that gets freed up and people start buying again, everything will start getting better.” And we thought he was a pessimist. Just before he left, the Hull East MP told our hack: “We’d be interested to hear some feedback.” About what, precisely? You decide. Readers can let him know exactly what they think at Be polite, now.

So much for pay restraint

It is a little-known fact that consultant Turner & Townsend is one of the few UK companies still to have a presence in Zimbabwe. Its five staff are sticking it out, despite the innumerable problems that have dogged the country in recent years. Top among them has been runaway inflation that led to the printing of a 100 trillion Zim dollar bank note in January. T&T chief exec Vince Clancy says the problems his workforce have to grapple with in the country put UK problems into perspective. He sees an upside though, and points out that adjusting Zim salaries to account for an inflation rate of about 231 million per cent sent T&T’s average pay rise last year into the stratosphere.

The walk-in tonic

This week has seen the return of “architectural foodsmiths” Bompas & Parr. After getting Will Alsop and Richard Rogers to make jelly versions of their most famous buildings, the pair have come up with a more alcoholic wheeze – a walk-in humidifier in which guests can inhale vaporised gin and tonic. Co-founder Sam Bompas explains the effect is like walking into a “cool mist of G&T”. Very summery. But is vaporising alcohol entirely safe? “There is the potential it could explode,” admits Bompas, “but our explosives expert said that with the ratio of G to T we have, we won’t go up in smoke.” Adventurous cocktail fans can visit Bompas & Parr’s exhibit at Carnaby Street, London from 16 April.

Not what you know, but who

Some on the infamous (not to mention unlawful) construction blacklist have been awarded their places for trade union activity, others accused of anarchy, and yet more named for being rabble-rousers. Now it seems at least one name on the list of M&E workers made the grade for suspected collusion with a certain bestselling construction magazine. Ahem. This deep-throated individual’s file is reportedly littered with references to his familiarity with journalists on this very esteemed publication. Who would have guessed the main contractors were so fearful of little old us?

Before the first fence

Grand National update! With days to go before the race, our tipster Stef Stefanou has had to retract the prediction made in last week’s Hansom. Character Building, Honest Stef’s favourite at 14-1, has had to withdraw from the race. “I jinxed it,” Stef said. “It’s because it had the word ‘Building’ in the name.” The Doyle chairman’s other tip, State of Play, is still in the running but more of a risk at 16-1. As for me, given how many of our readers are looking for one, I think Niche Market (50-1) is worth an outside bet. Let us know if you’re a winner.

Sleeping with the fishes

It certainly is rough out there at the moment, with people losing their jobs in swaths. Still, I was surprised to hear from an industry source that a new phrase for being made redundant has entered the vernacular – “getting whacked”. Reports that some firms are replacing the traditional P45 on the desk with the head of a horse in the bed were unconfirmed.