Building's senior reporter celebrated Halcrow's reburbishment of Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow and then got into a dogfight with the engineers
Until last Thursday evening, it had been approximately 13 years since I last demonstrated my flair for constructing polystyrene model aeroplanes. For over a decade, social norms had prevented me from demonstrating what I consider to be one of my finest skills, honed as a child watching the annual Southend airshow - the ability to slot flimsy pre-cut shapes together in such a way that they actually flew, rather than nosedive immediately onto the floor.
Admittedly, it isn’t much of a talent, but it always annoyed my brother. And last Thursday, it was in danger of annoying a few hundred-odd engineers at the Kelvingrove museum in Glasgow.
The museum, recently named the second top tourist attraction in the world despite its rather dubious location, has just been refurbished and renovated by engineer Halcrow. To celebrate its success - and successful completion of the unique challenge of suspending a Spitfire plane in the building’s imposing entry hall - the engineer last week held a spectacular reception at the venue. But behind the champagne and the glamour was secreted a small room where the real event of the evening was taking place: the company’s inaugural Polystyrene Spitfire Challenge.
Personally, I thought I played the event very cool. Revealing no hint of my misspent yoof on Southend seafront, I casually “lost” the invitation, which included my complimentary plane kit. I then spent a good two hours checking out the opposition, while taking care to protest that it really wasn’t worth anyone attempting to find me a replacement model. But some kind soul took pity on me. BuildingPlane 1 was ready for take off. I stepped forward, gave a knowing glance at one of my hosts and - launched it straight into a doorway.
Clearly a bit out of practice, but no need to panic. BuildingPlane 2 fared much better, gliding gracefully to the floor ahead of its competitors. It remained there, leading the field, for a good five minutes, until a number of engineers realised it wouldn’t look good if they were beaten by a journalist. I was deeply impressed.
All in all, there were about 5 BuildingPlanes, as several Halcrow employees started writing my name on their attempts in an effort to evade competition rules dictating that company employees could not win the grand prize - a magnum of champagne. But once the more technically-minded got into gear, they ran away with the competition. I, meanwhile, ran away to a corner of the gallery filled with giant stuffed animals. This is not a good idea once you’ve had a few drinks. I did my best to avoid an individual who was moving about in front of a giant moose head with a haunted look in her eyes: “You’re watching me here….. and now you’re watching me here….”
I then wandered to what I thought was the relative safety of the small creatures display, but even this was fraught with peril: the first sign I read informed me that of all the creatures on earth, barnacles have the longest penis length relative to their body size. Unfortunately, a slightly inebriated guest chose this moment to wander over. “Barnacles have the - what?” he said, looking rather crestfallen, before wandering off in the direction of an extinct woolly mammoth for some comfort. Poor guy, I hope he enjoyed the party.