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It's been too long since Astragal was last treated to some good verse. It was with some eagerness then, that on a recent trip to Bilbao, he pulled up a pew with a bevy of Irish architects, including Brian Brennan, Alan Jones and 'the Kevin McCloud of Irish telly', Our House presenter Duncan Stewart. Hiding his puppyish enthusiasm and deploying red wine with vigour, Astragal mentally dusted down his favourite limericks in anticipation. The men from the land of Heaney, Wilde and Ye a t s did not disappoint. Soon one was on his feet. A respectful silence fell as he cleared his throat. Even Astragal's finest bons mots couldn't compete with this man of letters. Recalling an inscription (chalk on brickwork) from his college days, he began: 'Drains and ditches, walls and piers, this is the stuff of engineers. Wine, women, art and sex, this is the stuff of architects.' Astragal couldn't agree more. . .

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