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Appearing before a select committee of sometimes ferocious MPs can be a daunting experience, so those who are summoned are well advised to do their homework. It is also wise to do this homework discreetly, as Strategic Rail Authority chairman Richard Bowker found out last week when he went before the Public Accounts Committee.

There he was grilled about why he had paid Jarvis chairman and former MP Steve Norris £1,500 for advice on the matter.

Waggish committee member Gerry Steinberg then pointed out that he would be retiring at the next election, and offered Bowker his services for half the price once he had stood down.

The red faced SRA man told him he would consider the offer.

Indian health and safety signs get to the real heart of the matter as the photo above shows.

Perhaps we can learn from this.

A distinguished British engineer, recently invited to a US convention to give a presentation on the workings of a UK construction industry body, was alarmed to discover his allocated slot was 9am Sunday morning.

But not as alarmed as those gasguzzling, carbon-burning US delegates were when our national representative kicked off his talk with the frank admission that the workings of his organisation really had no relevance to a US audience. Instead, he said, 'I'm going to tell you about something that you really should be interested in - global warming.'

Apparently they listened politely.

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