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Joining the club

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On 15 April this column reported: 'While work on the Prince of Wales' architecture school gathers pace in London's trendy Shoreditch, I hear rumours of possible personnel moves. Some doubt if school head Adrian Gale will seek a renewal of his contract later this year . . .' It is no pleasure to be proved right, and all one can say is that Professor Gale, whose departure from the job was announced last week, joins a distinguished list of those who, having touched the hem of monarchy, have retired hurt. One thinks of poor old Rod Hackney, once an intimate of the heir to the throne, cast into outer darkness when the courtiers decided he had outlived his usefulness. They really dislike people who get too close. Colin Amery, once fund-raiser for the Prince's school, is not much in evidence these days, nor is Jules Lubbock, once chief princely standard-carrier but persona non grata having suggested he might be paid his expenses for organising an entire summer school event. Charles Knevitt, erstwhile Times architecture correspondent, used to bask in princely glow in the days of community architecture, but now rests in the shade of the fund-raising profession. The list of people who have passed through the school/institute/foundation is legion - with former director Richard Hodges a major casualty who has loyally held his tongue about what was going on (especially on the money front). So are there any survivors? Brian Hanson, one-time director, seems still to be there, carrying his sobriquet as the only sane man in the asylum. The Prince still listens to Leon Krier, masterplanner of Toytown (sorry, Poundbury). Funnily enough, there has been evidence that the foundation has taken a turn for the better, judging by the pluralism showed in its exhibition programme this year. We can only hope this was not a snare and delusion, especially for new boys David Porter (teacher) and Matthew Lloyd (architect). Remember guys, watch your backs and mind those Windsor knots.

Bisto kids

Many people think of expert-witness work as a gravy train they would like to join, but since the Woolf Report it has all become a little more onerous. Experts will now have an over-riding responsibility to the court rather than the parties who pay them; worse, their correspondence will be available to all sides. This means that what started out as an attempt to reduce the cost and cumbersome nature of litigation will have precisely the reverse effect: solicitors will instruct two advisors, one the ' expert' and another a 'consultant' whose relationship will remain privileged. The reforms recommend the appointment of a Single Joint Expert, a God- like superhuman of unquestionable moral stature who will take instructions equally from both sides, and present an unbiased account to the court. Just a different sort of gravy train.

Wafer thin

The people who dreamt up the Haagen-Dazs ads, where a scantily clad couple indulge in a little you-know-what, have come up with something even more outrageous. 'Huge moan of contentment', runs the slogan on a new ad, next to a tub of ice cream. Above this there appears a picture of the Millennium Dome, with the statement: 'Huge bone of contention'. Along the bottom of the ad runs the statement: 'At least Haagen-Dazs is 100 % perfect.' I hope McDonald's will not be stocking this ice cream in the Dome next year.

Funding frisson

Department for Education and Employment officials had relieved smiles after a recent visit from Professors Chris Cross and Helen Mallinson, and riba education director Leonie Milliner. 'We're thinking about making the diploma course fully post-graduate,' the well-intentioned riba folk offered. The officials no doubt relished the thought of having delivered on a plate the opportunity for grant cuts which the government has wanted for years - post-graduate courses do not attract automatic local authority funding. There was a time when Whitehall mandarins used to quake at the thought of an riba delegation coming their way.

Buying ideas

I bump into the above-mentioned Jules Lubbock at our local Asda. 'I am in favour of suburbanising the whole of Britain at US-style low densities, and buying our food on world markets,' he tells me gleefully. This is an unexpected new version of Essex Man.

Postmodern fun

An Englishman, Scotsman and Irishman walk into a pub. The barman looks up and says: 'Is this some kind of joke?'

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