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'As T S Eliot observed, the end usually comes not with a bang but a whimper. Yes, I know he was writing about something more central to human existence than the Arts Council of England. But watching the power, the raison d'etre and even the staff drain away from that sad quango has been akin to watching a much-abused mule whimper in its terminal throes.' Richard Morrison. The Times, 29.1.99

'He came in with his designer and insisted on buying the chair and footrest. He told me he had dinner with Richard Rogers the previous night and must have a chair just like the one in his house.' Andrew Weaving, owner of Century Design Furniture, on selling an Eames lounger to Peter Mandelson. Guardian, 1.2.99

'Parking will be impossible, there may be a bit of a queue to get in, late-night Tube trains cannot be guaranteed. In fact, Tube trains cannot be guaranteed at all. But if you want to celebrate the millennium in the good old-fashioned way, with chicken washed down by a few pints of lager, then the Dome is the place for you. For the more avant-garde, fish and chips will also be available.' Stewart Payne's assessment of the Dome's catering franchises. Evening Standard, 26.1.99

'I still leave at six-o'clock and I don't work weekends.' Frank Gehry. Architectural Record, January 1999.

'Overall, Chris Smith is something of a national treasure. After all, it's not often that, in government, you encounter good people trying to do decent things.' Deborah Ross. Independent, 1.2.99

vital statistics

Plants for Portcullis House, designed by Michael Hopkins and Partners for 200 mps, will cost £200,000, restaurant furniture £500,000, paving £1.2 million, and desks, tables and filing cabinets £1.3 million, the House of Commons says. The average furniture cost per member is £14,761.

At least 300 people are killed each year because of road design flaws, including confusing traffic lights at junctions, obscured signs and poorly placed crossings, says the aa. Some 1200 deaths are due to speeding.

Tokyo has overtaken London as the world's most expensive office market, costing an average of £82.66 per ft2 per year. London costs £72.40. Next comes Bombay, then Hong Kong, says real estate firm C B Hillier Parker. Edinburgh is eighth, Manchester ninth and Glasgow the tenth most expensive.

Nearly everyone in the uk lives within about 30 miles of a millennium capital project, says the dcms, one of which will be opening each week between now and the end of 2000.

70 per cent of divorcing couples have children and 65 per cent of divorcees are married again within 12 months. Some 37 per cent of children are born to non-married parents; in 1977 it was 9.7 per cent.

Central London property prices steadied in 1998, down from a rate of 17.2 per cent in February to 6.6 per cent at the end of August 1998, according to Daniel Smith of Cluttons.

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