WITH bugger all happening over the Christmas period I have been obliged yet again to use this first issue of the year to gaze into my crystal ball and make spookily accurate predictions about what the coming year has in store for the UK's construction industry.
January: The year commences amid fears that the new Wembley Stadium might not be ready in time for the 2006 Cup Final in May. Non-football fans say 'So what?' as does the Football Association, which adds: 'We'll just do it in Cardiff instead.' February: More sports excitement when the House of Lords debates the London Olympic Games 2012 Bill. This is a piece of breathtaking legislation through which the Lords are made to feel they have graciously paved the way for the 2012 Olympics to take place in London. In 2012. Of course everybody else already knows all this, but this is the traditional way of helping this bunch of silly old duffers feel useful.
March: Mortgage lenders warn of a slow-down in the housing market.
With Chelsea a hot favourite for a place in the FA Cup Final, rumours spread of secret talks between Multiplex and buccaneering Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich.
Suddenly everybody knows the Russian for 'liquidated damages'.
April: House builders unveil record profits for the year ending April 1.
Mortgage lenders warn of overheating in the housing market.
May: The FA Cup Final takes place ? miraculously ? at the new Wembley Stadium on special fastgrowing turf specially imported from the Russian steppes. Chelsea beat Arsenal in a nail-biting penalty shoot out involving AK47s.
June: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister publishes its latest plans to revise Part L of the Building Regulations. Everything's going to be tighter. And warmer.
July: Accusations that British firms have been bribing dodgy foreign governments to win contracts finally come to a head. A company that was accused in December of building bridges that 'went nowhere' silences its critics by pointing out that nobody had a go at Trafalgar House when it built a bridge across the Thames to Thurrock about 15 years ago.
August: The Building Research Establishment publishes a research document which explains why the housing market is overheating. It's entirely due to the increased thermal performance resulting from the ODPM's obsession with t ightening up Part L of the Building Regulations September: Unions and employers clash over plans to introduce new corporate manslaughter legislation.
At stake is the right to protection against fatal injury caused by another's negligence. But the unions claim that a business entity should no longer enjoy this right and that the families of people k illed at work should be allowed to claim damages, however devastating to the balance sheet.
October: As 2006 enters its final quarter, building product manufacturers warn the City that 2006 will be a year of financial disaster. The reason is all too obvious: not enough natural disasters in 2006 to boost sales.
November: Panic in the City as rumours of a rapid cooling-down in the housing market start to spread.
The confusion is finally cleared up when it is revealed that a chance remark by Sir Duncan Davidson about the onset of winter has been m isinterpreted by City analysts.
December: Industry pundits ref lect on a largely uneventful 2006.
Construction beset by industrial unrest; huge natural disasters;
industry barometer all over the place; Part L requirements relaxed.
Meanwhile, yours truly puts 'brand new crystal ball' on Christmas list.