A GREEK friend of mine has just returned to London after a long weekend in Painswick where he had hoped to shift his writer's block. He says that it was a failure as if Honore de Balzac had lived in Gloucestershire he would not have written 'Eugenie Grandet' but 'Heidi'.

No, I don't know what he means either, but suspect it was meant as some slight on our local intellectual stimulus compared to the delights of Soho. So much from someone whose first and only book is entitled, 'Treat 'em mean and keep 'em keen: a guide to finding and keeping your man'.

However, heading his words, I broadened my reading range by picking up Mr Brain's copy of Building Design, a weekly publication described as being architects' favourite weekly. For a profession hit more than most by recession and redundancies, architects appear to have held on to their key skill. Arrogance.

Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into an architect-bashing session, though Prince Charles and I share more than just a love of Spike Milligan, who named his particularly unattractive house overlooking the English Channel 'The Blind Architect'. Like our royal neighbour I have an appreciation of a well-built wall and often admire his as I drive past Highgrove.

Prince Charles appears to have few fans among the BD readership but their heated criticisms of him, fuelled by his recent book arguing that sustainable architecture is ignoring the importance of tradition, are spoilt by their offensive and patronising wording. It seems to me he talks a lot of sense.

My contribution to the world of architecture would be to impose a ban on computer generated plans for twenty years. If architects had to sit down and actually draw, as they did in the Olden Days, then we might be spared some of the sillier architectural abominations.

Then my eye was drawn to an article about a giant clock that is planned for Trafalgar Square to count down the time to the start of the 2012 Games. It is 6.5metres high, on a concrete base, is clad in stainless steel with illuminated Olympic and Paralympic logos. It is hideous. The designer has, wisely in my opinion, chosen to remain anonymous but it looks likely to get approval for reasons that are obscure to me.

Poor Trafalgar Square. Still perhaps it will inspire my Greek writer.

Visit Lesley's website at www.lesleybrain.com