… working at a nuclear bomb factory or for Metronet? Being mistaken for Harry Potter or likened to Robert Mugabe? Being stuck on a boat during the England game or finding a means of watching it?

How to win friends and influence people

The Town and Country Planning Association has secured an influential position close to the government’s housing and planning policy of late. However, David Lock, its chairman, may not have increased the likelihood of securing future government contracts at the organisation’s House of Commons reception last week. A joke about Gordon Brown’s “Mugabe-like rise to power” was greeted with gasps and a stunned silence by the audience. One wonders how well it went down with the numerous Labour MPs present.

Hogwarts vs BSF

Construction leaders would be well advised to ensure they are fully conversant on the subject of Harry Potter. Following last week’s revelation that Construction Confederation boss Stephen Ratcliffe had disappointed an audience by not being the actor Daniel Radcliffe, news reaches me this week that Tim Byles, the head of Partnerships for Schools, has suffered a similar fate. An interview between Byles and some schoolchildren broadcast to a PPP summit in London last week showed one young boy complaining that although his new Building Schools for the Future school had been billed as “magical”, it didn’t quite match up to Hogwarts. Whether or not the addition of magicians would help to deliver BSF projects any quicker is anyone’s guess.

The irrepressible Bernard Ainsworth

Project manager Bernard Ainsworth is clearly not a man who shirks a challenge. Having dusted himself down after the collapse of Metronet, where he was seconded from consultant Atkins, the man who built the controversial O2 dome in south-east London is back at Atkins once more. His new posting? Working with the Atomic Weapons Establishment on its 750-acre site at Aldermaston. Should be a doddle.

How did England do?

RIBA London’s annual dinner last Wednesday was unfortunately timed to coincide with the England vs Croatia game. Even worse was the fact that it took place on a boat on the Thames, which meant that guests weren’t able to duck out to a nearby pub to check the score. Thank goodness then for architecture watchdog Design for London, whose head of urban environment, David Ubaka, brought a portable telly to the dining table so that everyone could hear regular updates on England’s failure. Talk about a sinking feeling …

Make mine a Kier royale

I hope that staff at Kier enjoyed their annual meeting at the company’s country pile in the Bedfordshire countryside, as next year things could be slightly different. Although the grand marquee is likely still to be there, the presence of booze is under greater threat. Word reaches me that Kier is considering bringing its office workers in line with those on site by banning them from consuming alcohol and then returning to work.

I am happy to confirm that rumours of a similar ban in Fleet Street are pure scaremongering.

An unpickupable read

The construction industry’s benefits provider B&CE celebrated its 65th birthday last week by presenting guests to its bash with a steel-bound book. The gift – somewhat heavier than the average party bag – gave a decade-by-decade account of the organisation’s story. Its front page, which was personalised to each recipient, claimed “65 years of supporting the construction industry”. A few more of those books and you could support anything.