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Signoff: David Taylor

IT SEEMS like only a few weeks ago that the steel-frame brigade was teasing the concrete boys about their product's fire-resistance and cheekily offering to pay for more tests by the BRE. But recently, they've gone rather quiet - I wonder why?

Readers might recall that the concrete lobby very sensibly accepted its rivals' kind offer, though looking around now, it's hard to see where the steel-frame people are going to find the money after all.

The latest fashion in the steelwork industry seems to be laying off staff and calling in the receivers.

Well, in the light of recent developments on the supply side, perhaps it's just as well that demand for steel frames is a bit light at the moment.

With the axe poised to come down on a third of the UK's steel production infrastructure at any minute, those fabricators who remain might find it difficult laying their hands on any of the stuff.

Of course, I knew the writing was on the wall as soon as British Steel decided to throw in its lot with Hoogovens. Not that there's anything wrong with a joint venture - it was the name that did it. How can you call yourself Corus and expect people to take you seriously.

Meanwhile, next time you're out with someone and they suggest 'going Dutch' make sure you see the colour of their money before you start shelling yours out.

ACCORDING to this Sunday's broadsheets, London mayor Ken Livingstone didn't go Dutch earlier this month when he was living it up on the French Riviera.

He was put up at a very nice hotel in Cannes as a guest of MIPIM, the international commercial property conference. But what was he doing hob-nobbing with rich capitalist-pig property developers, you may ask?

Well, however unpalatable it is for Ken to spend time in the company of these people, he really has no choice. As London's mayor, he oversees the development of one of the world's most valuable property markets, so he needs to study these rogues in their natural environment.

And if that means vintage wines and haute cuisine, that's just tough.

QUITE why anybody would want to build another office block in the capital is beyond me anyway. They can't rent out the ones they've already built.

I've been hearing reports that Canary Wharf, which likes to boast publicly about the harmonious relations it enjoys with its tenants, now has reasons to curse the same tenants in private.

It only has itself to blame. The harmony was created by giving these tenants very advantageous terms, which included the ability to hand back office space if they find they don't need it after all. Good old Canary Wharf, say the tenants as they unpack their tea-chests. Good old tenants, says Canary Wharf and puts a tick in the rent book.

Now things are going all rancid in the Middle East, the tenants are queuing up to hand in their keys.

Good old Canary Wharf, say the tenants. Whoops! says Canary Wharf.

Still, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good. I'm thinking of reviving plans to relocate the T4-2 offices to central London. If prices start tumbling at Canary Wharf, I might take a couple of floors - assuming I can hand them back at any time, of course.

ARCHITECTS are getting in a state over a court case that found that one of their number was responsible for a food factory that he designed burning down.

His offence was to specify a combustible cladding material for the kitchen area, which anybody will tell you was a silly thing to do. There's no point getting your knickers in a twist over it.

In any case, why do you think you never see a thatched roof on an smelting works?