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Signoff: David Taylor

MY LOCAL Tesco has got the decorations up, so it's official: Christmas has arrived. It's time to festoon the tower cranes with illuminated Santa sleighs and tell the HSE: 'Yeah ? what you going to do about it?' It also means the annual race for the Christmas Number One is under way. Could it be a constructionthemed song this year? What a public relations coup that would be. Not only would there be massive sales of construction-related CDs, but many youngsters might demand hard hats, CAT boots and similar industryrelevant gifts in their stockings.

Construction will once again be the career of choice for school-leavers.

But what's the likelihood of that? There's only ever been one construction-f lavoured Christmas Number One: Can We Fix It? (Bob the Builder, 2000), and what an embarrassment that was.

There are no rules about what makes a successful Christmas Number One. It doesn't even have to mention Christmas: over the past 53 years only 13 have been the least bit festive. And although there have been some cracking examples ? Return to Sender (Elvis Presley, 1962), I Feel Fine (Beatles 1964), and I Hear You Knockin' (Dave Edmunds, 1970) ? a Christmas Number One can be as crap as you like. Up there with Can We Fix It? are Ernie, The Fastest Milkman In the West (Benny Hill, 1971), Long Haired Lover from Liverpool (Little Jimmy Osmond, 1972) and Save Your Love (Renee & Renato, 1982).

I'm telling you all this because this year there could well be a good song in at Number One. It's by a band called Nizlopi and the bookies have got it at 4/1. Not only that, it's a song written from the viewpoint of a lad riding in his dad's JCB.

Sounds naff? Well, visit www.jcbsong. co. uk/jcbvideo asap and judge for yourself. As Mojo magazine says, it's 'the most exciting hip hop acoustic double bass JCB shit going down'. Which means it's good.

RATHER more worrying than the prospect of a construction-themed Number One is that of a pop musicthemed contractor. But a colleague of mine has raised this possibility in relation to the future of Mowlem. If, as rumour has it, Carillion is on the brink of making a takeover bid for Mowlem, the resulting hybrid could just possibly be renamed 'Marillion'.

Marillion, you might recall, was a rather earnest rock band fronted by a peculiar figure called Fish.

The band is still going and is likely to be protective of its name, in case the corporate image-builders might ? just might ? have got it into their heads that Mowlem 'really rocks'.

IT'S BUT a short leap of the imagination from 'rocks' to 'cliffs'. No, I don't mean Cliff Richard (Mistletoe & Wine, 1988; Saviour's Day, 1990), I mean real seaside cliffs of the sort the North Sea is steadily eroding.

Engineers have laboured tirelessly to create sea defences along this coast but everybody knows that these defences are ultimately futile.

Well, nearly everybody. Peter Bogg is appears not to have heard.

Mr Boggis, a 73-year-old retired engineer, has dumped thousands of tonnes of inert waste (mainly clay, construction rubble and the entire back-catalogue of Little Jimmy Osmond and Renee & Renato) against the cliff 80 m from his house at Easton Bavents, near Southwold.

But Mr Boggis, dubbed the King Canute of East Anglia, has now been barred by the Environment Agency f rom complet ing the project, as he lacks planning permission.

In t rue pioneer ing style, Mr Boggis says he will t reat the EA's decision as just 'another challenge to overcome'.

As they say, old engineers don't die, they simply crumble into the sea.