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Signoff: David Taylor

ACCORDING to the Public Accounts Committee, the Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park was 'ill conceived' and its construction was 'badly managed'. It's a shame the PAC disapproves because I think it's the perfect memorial to the self-styled 'Queen of Hearts'.

The PAC report points out that the cost of the fountain ? or drain, as Committee chairman Edward Leigh prefers to call it ? was finished late and was £2.2 million over-budget.

Well, that is a bit naughty, I agree? but should we begrudge a little overindulgence? After all it is in homage to the greatest style icon of our generation and the face that launched a thousand women's magazines.

The most serious indictment of the memorial is the fact that it costs £250,000 every year to maintain. But in a joint statement, the Royal Parks and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport point out that the fountain is 'extremely popular' and 'a fitting tribute to the Princess of Wales'. They're right there ? she was notoriously high-maintenance.

IT MIGHT not exactly feel like spring is here, but you can tell it is because people are starting to talk about trade fairs. Between now and July it's almost wall-to-wall trade shows and the canny construction journalist can hop from one to the other, living on lit tle more than wine, beer and peanuts with the occasional slap-up dinner at a posh restaurant courtesy of any company with a new product to sell.

The season's kicked off with Mipim, an international commercial property get-together which takes place every year in Cannes, on the French Riviera. Of course you get all the property developers and architects there, but I notice that these days you get a lot of contractors showing an interest.

I'd like to think that this is because contractors are now more involved with the design phase of a development and are working with their clients as par t of an integrated supply chain. But I'm told that the only reason contractors are going to Mipim is that it's in Cannes, on the French Riviera. With luxury yachts and cocktails and stuff. This nautical theme affords plenty of opportunity for exceeding your rum ration and 'going below' with whoever takes your fancy.

Less suave, but just as much fun, is this year's first major plant show: Intermat. Coincidentally, this event also takes place on French soil, just outside Paris. Being a celebration of hole-digging, lumps of yellow metal and raw diesel power, Intermat attracts few architects and not that many building contractors.

But it is a mecca for the rough and ready, no-nonsense plant-hire sector.

There are no yachts, of course. But there is still plenty of booze and always the opportunity of getting your kit off with whoever you fancy.

I happen to know this because that's how I met my wife.

Paris is of course the traditional location for a little extra-marital dalliance but if you're a lonely plant hirer in search of love, be careful who you approach at Intermat ? especially after a few sherbets. That girl on the Mascus stand is Aneta Florczyk, holder of the title of The World's Strongest Woman, according to the press release.

Aneta mixes with some scary people, a foray into the world of weightlifting reveals. Take her mate, Clay Edgin. His hobbies are tearing packs of playing cards in half and 'rolling up frying pans'. And he's only 23.

I don't know what Aneta's doing on the Mascus stand but the press release says she'll take on all-comers. So if you're feeling romantic, be careful who you approach. And if it's Aneta ? well, just don't try any funny stuff.