Diary: McCloud's misjudged jibes make for heavy weather in Barcelona

Did some of the contributors to last week's triennial outdoor conference in Barcelona fail to read their briefing notes properly before they got on stage?

The conference was quite clearly billed under the banner "Taking the lead", but Kevin McCloud, the presenter of Channel 4's Grand Designs, seems to have thought it was "Taking the piss".

McCloud was drafted in to give an interesting (although not entirely relevant) presentation on art, buildings and public space, with particular reference to the forthcoming Royal Institute of British Architects' Stirling Prize for architecture.

All perfectly innocuous stuff, until McCloud got on to one of this year's Stirling finalists: The Spire, a 120-metre high construction in Dublin.

The Spire, which is more commonly known as The Stiletto in the Ghetto on account of it being in one of Dublin's seedier districts, has split opinion among Dubliners and McCloud recounted tales of how he conducted a survey of local views. In a comedy Irish accent.

As several of the delegates shifted uneasily in their chairs, McCloud recalled that one old Dublin woman said of the spike: "I don't see da point." But then how was he to know the outdoor advertising industry has always attracted more than its fair share of people from Ireland? "I don't tink dat's very funny," one was heard to say.

As for Jon Wilkins, his slightly misjudged presentation also failed to receive a particularly warm reception. "It's just a bloody sales pitch for Naked," one delegate complained as Wilkins told the outdoor industry that they needed to work "with the right people". Never mind "Taking the lead", the apparent lack of preparation led some to conclude he had been swinging the lead.


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