CABE chief Jon Rouse was on fine form last week at the RIBA's Housing Design Awards, standing in for Lord Rooker, who himself had replaced Lord Falconer. Rouse started his address - on the dire nature of volume housing in the UK and how the houses will come from the factory floor in future - with a quip. It was about the last time he stood in for a minister, back in the time when he was a private secretary to the then housing minister (unnamed), who had chosen to go on a freebie with Allied Domecq to Royal Ascot. Rouse had told the minister he had to be back at 5.30pm to meet up with some homeless charities who were paying a visit. With an hour to go and still no minister, Rouse was getting worried. Two minutes later, a call came through, purporting to be from the minister. Could Rouse stand in for him, because the minister was 'stuck in traffic'?
Unfortunately, said Rouse, the noise of the tannoy at Ascot announcing the winner of the last race and his rather slurred words gave the game away. Rouse's excuse for the homeless people?
Dreadfully sorry, the minister is delayed at 'a community event in Berkshire'!