Monitor is mourning the loss of the maypole, that joyful, festive and pleasantly obscure symbol of spring that only really diligent historians connect with any rowdy goings on. The international workers movement is best left to overseas nurse recruitment specialists, Monitor feels, with no need to let actual workers go round having a movement on their own. So it was with horror that he read the warnings of mayhem and general running amok, as GPs, apparently incited to rebellion by Doctor magazine's circulation department, threatened mass action on 1 May.
Who could have imagined the spectacular show of strength that followed? Before the marauding medics besieged Oxford Circus, around 1,000 GPs - many heavily disguised as quite young punky people - blocked central London's Euston Road for two hours, bearing strangely legible banners and placards. And an army of police kitted out with riot gear and rubber bullets was marshalled to confront the much-feared 'Wombles' - GPs swathed in padded white overalls and quite possibly NHS-issue latex gloves, their half-moon specs hidden behind sinister face-masks. In the aftermath, as shards of broken appointments are swept from the pavements, Monitor takes his hat off to Doctor magazine - it was all down to you, as literally tens of surgeries followed the call to arms.
At the DoH, where what matters is what works, evasive action was the order of the day.
'We have been getting warnings through our internal system advising us to dress informally, not to have discussions with demonstrators, and not to draw attention to ourselves by staring out of the window, ' reveals a source deep inside the DoH communications centre, who should surely know that Careless Talk Costs Lives. 'My only worry now is the demonstrations will prevent me actually getting to the wine bar or that I will be mown down by a plastic bullet, ' our source goes on. Monitor suggests that the second possibility is really a little more severe than the first.
Monitor would also like to advise those May day revellers who planned to 'evoke the spirit of Eros' at Piccadilly Circus, using 'masks and costumes', that health specialists recommend evoking it with something more reliably protective.
A splendid dose of health promotion comes bouncing out of the mailbag from the Teenage Cancer Trust. 'Find your sense of tumour, ' it advises young people with cancer. Monitor agrees. He has said it before and he'll say it again: laughter really is the best medicine - except for medicine, of course. The leaflet is a gaudy yellow number festooned with cartoon cheesy grins that remind Monitor uncomfortably of the prime minister. We know the election is looming, and rescuing Phoenix the little white calf is one thing, but surely Tony hasn't donated his glow-in-the-dark smile to kids with cancer as well.
Monitor is not sure quite how humorous cancer can be - but then, despite a love of popular culture with many a long-playing record to show for it, the news that 'cyber-princess tbabe' is supporting a TCT event mystified him too.
Now, life for those with German measles and indeed Rocky Mountain spotted fever may never be the same again. Finnish doctors are alarmed that naming nasty lurgies after actual places could unduly upset the residents. Why should genetic disorder Salla disease be named after a Finnish town, they ask. Those of you with a morbid fascination with diseases or a long-standing interest in Finland - There is no need to e-mail Monitor all at once about this - may recall that Kumlinge disease and Pogosta disease are also named after places in Finland. The Finnish delegation to the World Medical Association meeting in France this week is to protest, sparking fears that anarchic British GPs will be re-igniting the May day protests in a bid to storm the conference centre.
It is a wasted opportunity for Big Al, thinks Monitor. The health secretary, who fearlessly named and shamed 10 dirty hospitals and - particularly bravely - one really quite clean one, is missing out on a wonderful performance management opportunity. It is time to replace earned autonomy with earned notoriety, branding the performance-challenged in a truly long-term and sustainable way. Name those diseases after the laggards, cries Monitor. What greater incentive for improvement than having a hospital-acquired infection named after your very trust? In a supportive and developmental way, of course.