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Hubbub factor

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Building services engineers are a talkative lot, judging by their performance at the CIBSE annual dinner last week.

Environment minister Michael Meacher, presented with an honorary fellowship by president Max Fordham, made a brief speech against a background of conversation from half the large audience. Guest speaker Piers Gough stood up well to noise, sprinkling his speech with his customary bon mots. He had asked a quantity surveyor how he should open his speech. 'Does it have to open?' He recalled working on 'scissor-plan' flats with Fordham, and suggested that 'noone ever got the right electricity bills'. Some gentle chiding at the coordination skills of the assembled company seemed in order: 'An electrical socket behind a radiator is really rather difficult to get at.' The final guest speaker, Sheridan Morley, had a neat way of dealing with rude talkers. If the audience remained quiet he would speak for 20 minutes. Any noise and he would spin it out for an hour and a half!

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