A dry wind of inactivity has been blowing through Building’s offices this week. Yes, it’s the silly season. Thank God we’re all off on holiday…
About half of all phone calls made from Building’s newsdesk this week have been cut short by voicemails saying “I’m sorry, but I will be away until…”. A contact I managed to get through to this morning said: “There’s not much going on. It’s August,” as if that was somehow self-explanatory. August is the quietest month, as TS Eliot might have had it.
Press departments have apparently gone completely insane now that the slow trickle of news is all but dried up. Building hacks received pictures of Aylesbury MP David Lidington riding a miniature crusher last week, opening a factory in his constituency. “Over 50 guests turned up!” cried the press release, optimistically. Perhaps others were on holiday.
We’re not the only ones to be sucked into the silly season. The Evening Standard carries a sob story today about youthful pop violinist Vanessa Mae, who has been waiting for builders to finish her Kensington home since 2001. “My twenties have been ruined by builders,” she declares. I know how she feels. “I bought the house when I was a carefree 22-year-old,” she continues. “I’m now 28.” Poor Vanessa. Doesn’t she know the only way to get renovations done in Kensington is to become leader of the Conservative party?
Back to August. I often think it would be good to take a Spanish view of life. The ‘siesta culture’ involves not only a lie-down every afternoon – probably quite useful for those of us who enjoy long lunches – but also a month of rest every August. Spain gets so hot in midsummer, the country essentially closes up shop and goes on holiday.
Sometimes though, things get so hot further action is required. One imagines this might be the case in the boardroom at Ferrovial, whose ownership of BAA must be causing even more sweat than usual in the August heat. The Competition Commission have launched an inquiry into the apparent monopoly BAA has on the country’s airports (it owns seven of them). Apparently the company could be forced to sell off Gatwick Airport which, if you’ve visited Gatwick lately, can only be a good thing, surely?
It remains to be seen what effect the mooted break-up of BAA will have on the gigantic refurbishment contracts and new terminals planned for the next 20 years. However, if as many people go on holiday during August then as they seem to have this year, business on airports will carry on booming for decades yet.
But, as everyone else seems to be going away, so will we. After publishing on Friday Building will be away for a week. Hopefully by the time we come back something – anything! – will have happened. Then perhaps I won’t have to write endless, random articles like this one ever again….