Sometimes it’s hard to be a man. They must use tact when persuading partners not to drive off a cliff and are cruelly judged on the colour of their shirts. Still, at least they don’t have to give birth…

Oh, the pangs

Congratulations to the OFT! No, Building isn’t applauding the watchdog’s inquiry into the cover pricing, but the news that Deborah Jones, its deputy director of cartels, is due to give birth at about the time the implicated companies respond to the statement of objections. And those firms thought they’d be the only ones sweating in expectation. Jones’ maternity leave will reportedly end at almost exactly the point when fines are likely to be levied. Well, at least she’ll be used to the sound of crying by then.

The OFT cliff-hanger

For one of the lucky few not caught up in last week’s OFT bid-rigging probe, there were more pressing issues at hand. Shepherd Construction boss Vaughan Burnand was on holiday in Malta helping his girlfriend reverse park on the edge of a cliff when we called for a chat. The conversation went: “This has been … hang on a minute… left hand down a bit – careful! … an incredible waste of public … that’s it, not too close to the edge, keep going, that’s it, well done love … waste of public money. Cover pricing … do you want me to do it? ... doesn’t result in the public sector paying more for … that’s it, beautifully done.” For his own safety I shall keep his comments about women drivers to myself.

Norman's Wisdom

Norman’s wisdom

Reports that Norman Foster plans to relocate to the tax haven of Switzerland surprised me, not least because the great man denied it to one of my colleagues during his recent visit to Mipim (check out the blog “From Russia with Love” on our website). However, if The Foz is planning a reorganisation of his finances, it might explain why his practice has not yet submitted annual accounts to Companies House, two months after it was supposed to. Late filing can incur a fine of £100, but that’s small change indeed compared with the savings of non-dom status.

A recruitment problem

The National House Building Council’s Pride in the Job award is the highlight of any builder’s calendar. And, if recent history is anything to go by, often a chance to see attractive celebs handing out the gongs. Past presenters include newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky and property darling Kirsty Allsopp. However, Hansom hears that NHBC bosses are in a quandary as to what attractive young thing to hire this year. Would Ulrika lower the tone? Could both Cheeky Girls be persuaded to turn up? After much debate a shortlist has been drawn up: Joanna Lumley, Penny Lancaster, or, er… Ian Botham. Show of hands please …

Pink narcissus

I hear that WSP boss Chris Cole has changed his sartorial style after a bit of ribbing in these pages by one of my fashion-conscious colleagues. Cole has ditched one of his favourite garments – the pink shirt. A controversial colour choice in the construction industry perhaps, but one he was encouraged to pursue by no less a fashion authority than his mum. Cole might be consoled to know that since the offending article came out, nobody at Building has been seen in a pink shirt either…

A dressing down

And while we’re on the subject of wardrobes, Atkins boss Keith Clarke was flattered to be compared to Baroness Vadera in last week’s interview, but was somewhat miffed that we made such fuss of accessorising. “I’m somewhat disappointed that nobody ever comments about what I am wearing,” he huffed. “I suspect my sartorial elegance may not quite be of the same standard but rest assured, next time I’m interviewed by Building, I will dress for the occasion.”