DIARY: One in the Private Eye for Portakabin

Most magazines across the built environment and construction press have at one time received a narky letter from Portakabin Ltd. The missive complains about improper use of the word "Portakabin", which is a registered trademark, and instructs journalists to instead use hideous monstrosities such as "portable buildings" and "relocatable structures" or face the consequences.

Private Eye is the latest publication to get the pompous treatment courtesy of Dick Ellershaw, trademarks officer at Portakabin, but the satirical journal has bitten back. It printed Ellershaw's letter under the headline: "What a tragic way to make a living."

It then proceeded to rub his nose in it by using "Portakabin" as the headline for every letter in the edition. While of course applauding such rudeness and contempt, Diary wonders whether this spells the end of a tiresome campaign. Or would that invite another letter from Portakabin?

Planning used to finish off Brookside Television viewers last week bid farewell to the UK's most infamous cul-de-sac, following Channel 4's decision to pull the plug on its flagship soap Brookside. Over the past 21 years, Brookside Close has seen it all, from drugs and incest to that body under the patio.

After a history of outrageous storylines, you would expect Brookside to go out with a bang. It did, with residents abandoning their houses.

However, what led to the exodus from this fine suburban residential development was not a plane crash or a mystery virus but a planning wrangle.

A plot of woodland next to the close had been earmarked by waste company Cinerco for an incinerator. The firm also hoped to make the close an access road to the development and offered to buy the houses at a knock-down price. Residents were not prepared to sell up unless they were paid what the houses were worth.

This prompted drug dealer turned political activist Jimmy Corkhill to launch a campaign against the development. But residents eventually decided to cut their losses and accept the company's offer. Of course, being Brookside the final episode also featured the "execution" of drug-dealer Jack Michaelson by his neighbours. Some things never change.


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