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Signoff: David Taylor

DO YOU remember when you discovered there was no Father Christmas?

Can you still recall the disappointment when you realised the Tooth Fairy was really your mum?

Loss of innocence of this kind is something you assume only children experience - but I had one of those moments the other day.

It wasn't the discovery that the fairies at the bottom of the garden are actually rats (I never thought they were fairies anyway. I thought they were pixies).

No, it was the discovery that one of the pioneers of 'Rethinking Construction' could be as adversarial and overbearing as the worst subbie-bashers of old.

Of course I'm not going to name the organisation. Instead I'm going to appeal to its better nature and hope its conscience obliges it to live up to its high and idealistic principles.

My rose-tinted glasses were shattered by a hurt and embittered architect - not a subbie at all.

We were talking about his latest project, a multimillion pound job. Let's say, for argument's sake, it's a car park.And that it's in East Anglia.

My architect friend had worked with this employer on previous jobs in and around London and had formed a very firm and unfavourable opinion of its methods.'They sit around tables speaking the most idiotic jargon, ' he says.'They spout all sorts of corporate nonsense.

'They're all arrogant and dismissive? undoubtedly the biggest corporate bullies I've ever worked with, ' said my friend.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. It was like being told your favourite pop star had been beastly to innocent children. It just couldn't be true.Oh yes it was, insisted the architect.

Ah well, maybe this particular architect had a grudge. Perhaps he was afflicted with an irrational persecution complex - after all, he seems to be in a minority of one. But perhaps he was right. Perhaps the truth is that the world is not such a simple place and things are not what they appear.And, like the brand new desk which - damn it - I've just gashed with the vacuum cleaner, underneath the glossy veneer it's all just chipboard.

IT WOULD be easy to suggest to Multiplex that the search for the blackmailer threatening to shoot crane operators on its sites could be as simple as finding a supplier who is owed £27 million in retentions.That, after all, is the ransom being demanded.

But that's too simple.Any contractor who was that dumb would never have been capable of embarking on a job worth that amount. It is clearly the work of a loony: has Multiplex built any animal labs recently? Or had anything to do with Jerry Springer:

the Opera? This is where you'll find your fanatical snipers.

Even so, disgruntled former employees and unpaid suppliers have been known to exact a dreadful revenge and you don't get as big and as influential as Multiplex without stepping on a few toes along the way.

There can't be a single major contractor out there who hasn't made an enemy or two during the course of business. But how do you guard against the wrath of an enraged nutter? You can change your identity for a start.

That's what they do with supergrasses: new name, plastic surgery and a one-way ticket to Venezuela.

Show me a contractor that's changed its name, adopted a new logo, painted all its vans and moved out of 'construction' and into 'support services'within the past year and I'll show you a company on the run.

Respect must go to Multiplex for toughing it out.

Actually, never mind Multiplex - it's the crane operators still up there in their cabs who deserve the respect.