monitor

Sex-obsessed! It is a crazy world out there, and the latest press release from rude bits charity Marie Stopes International is adding to the chaos. Its survey reveals 'sex on school trips is commonplace'. Commonplace!

Common, more like. And in the days when people called a spade a spade, lady charity workers might have said as much. In a curious survey, the charity reveals that 'over one third of teenagers have had a sexual experience on supervised school trips'. Monitor was slightly confused by the breakdown of its key findings, which showed that of the 35 per cent of respondents who had sexual experiences during school trips, one in five reported having, ahem, 'full penetrative sex'. Monitor couldn't work out what this meant. Did the other 80 per cent enjoy solo experiences in the laundry room? Or is a shifty grope and rummage between pals now classed as an 'other' sexual experience by voyeurs for charity?

Those of you who boast strong perceptive skills (but do not boast, It is never classy) may have noticed something different about today. That is right - It is polling day! Monitor's colleagues on the news desk have been scratching their heads to come up with something new to say about the democratic process. But even they couldn't stoop as low as the admirably agile SocietyGuardian website, which really frightened us with coverage of the key marginal seats in health. Like Barrow-in-Furness, where the election team of health minister John Hutton 'is on red alert'. Or so its lengthy feature begins. It goes on: 'The Conservatives have let slip their secret weapon: Tory party workers from their twin constituency of Henley-on-Thames are due to arrive in Barrow-in-Furness to boost their candidate's campaign'. And on it goes: 'This is a seat William Hague's party believes it can take again after losing it in 1992.' Like all good stories, the tension just keeps on rising. . . until finally, several hundred words down the line, the writer admits that Mr Hutton has a majority of 13,000. Not quite the conventional knife-edge, reckons Monitor. Nonetheless, battling hack Paul Humphries takes to the streets with Mr Hutton, only to find that 'every door that opens to him provides him with a voter's assurance that on the fateful day their cross will go alongside his name'. Marginal, as in marginally interesting, then.

Monitor was taken to task last week over comments he made about the impact on the nation's consciousness of National Doctor Day (you remember the riots when at least 17 people had to wait a day to pick up their repeat prescription). In a bizarre twist, Monitor was warned - by the editor of Doctor magazine, no more - that he 'would have a little more bite if he was not so eager to swallow Department of Health spin'! Too eager to swallow! Girls taking part in school trips abroad have lost their reputations over less!

Monitor would point out that the DoH has yet to recognise Monitor's enthusiasm in this department.

Still, if the docs are not happy, Monitor will do all he can to cheer them up, with what looks like a bit of positive publicity! And a survey from Taylor Neilson Sofres Healthcare comes with a ready-made headline: 'All change for millennium doctors' (Note to authors, Monitor would point out that it might be the first press release Taylor Neilson et al have sent out this century, but the rest of us are a tad bored with the concept). Still, 'all change' sounds like even more hard work, eh? Monitor expected to learn even more about the increasingly hard life of the local doctor.

And yet the munchkin of a release read thus: 'GPs are currently taking much longer holidays than they did in 1976: six out of ten GPs will enjoy at least five or six weeks' holiday, and a quarter take six weeks or more. In contrast, in 1976, only 13 per cent of GPs had the luxury of five or six weeks' holiday a year, with just 5 per cent taking six weeks or more'. Ah. Perhaps those findings were not quite what the doctor ordered. Still, never one to jump to conclusions, Monitor looked up his guide to re-interpreting apparently straightforward statistics. Within minutes, an instant surge of sympathy was on its way. And other findings from the survey - in particular, the news that doctors were holidaying further afield, to France and America, and no longer enjoying UK breaks - could only help. So poor old docs, then. Driven out of their own country, and so hardworked that they need ever longer holidays - just to recover!