The bon viveurs among you may have noted that Monitor knows how to have a good time. And few moments in the calendar are more exciting than that anticipatory rush of blood that marks the start of the conference season. Ooh, yes! Just look what's dropped through Monitor's letterbox! There is still time to book your place at Parkex International 2001. The clue to the excitement is in the title. It is a conference about... parking! No, really. For information, contact the British Parking Association (www. parking. org. uk), where you can find out more about what it boasts is 'the largest dedicated parking exhibition in the world'! So if You have been to dedicated parking exhibitions in the past but found them perhaps a bit teeny, you'll love this one. A whole two days of information about the complex topic of stationary cars. Best of all, notes Monitor, entrance is free!

But Parkex is not until October, which is a long time to wait if you're a conference fan. Still, perhaps the Public Health Laboratory Service's annual conference in Warwick will tickle your fancy in the meantime. The September fun kicks off with new therapeutic approaches to microbial infection, and moves swiftly through tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and viral gastroenteritis. But There is so much to do, so little time. Indeed on day one of the packed programme, delegates have just 45 minutes to scoff down their dinner, before rushing off to get a full two hours at the PHLS quiz and bar! Monitor couldn't imagine anything more fun than a two-hour game of Trivial Pursuit based on microbiology. At least, not until he caught a glimpse of the agenda for the following day. In the mid-morning, delegates face a tough choice - whether to examine the epidemiology of gastrointestinal tract infections or join in a wacky session entitled 'Starship Enterprise:

are you on board or a cling-on?'

All this noise and frenzy is in stark contrast to the spooky silence of Tory heart-throb Dr Liam Fox in recent months. At first the rest provided a blessed release, a pause from the ceaseless babble that was the Tories' election machine. These days, the fax machine at Monitor Towers has time for regular naps. And yet there comes a time - and funnily enough, It is always August - when one begins to miss the bewildering soundbites of Dr Fox. So imagine Monitor's joy when a tiny e-mail fought through cyberspace to make sure the Tory voice was heard. And what a story too: 'Commenting on reports from Downing Street that 11,000 NHS patients were treated abroad last year, shadow health secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said: 'These statistics are very surprising and they raise a number of important questions. Where were the patients treated? For what? Have patients been treated abroad in previous years? The government must answer these questions immediately. Until they do, patients will feel concerned to know exactly what is going on'' That told 'em, thought Monitor, who followed Dr Fox's instructions to the letter, and went to find out 'exactly what was going on'. Straight to the Number 10 website in fact, which revealed that by popping an extra nought on the figure the Tory Party had magnified what was in fact a somewhat smaller story.

Speaking of hot news, a 'fantastic' scoop in from Leicestershire clothing company Grahame Gardner, which makes really great outfits for anaesthetists, as the picture (top left) shows. Well, actually, they look exactly like anybody else's anaesthetist outfits, but hey, enthusiasm is catching - as the PHLS would no doubt warn! Still, this pic is even more exciting than it first appears. As the press release from Grahame Gardner explains:

'When sales director James Greenlees arrived at the recent photo shoot for the new Grahame Gardner Ltd brochure, he was startled to see his company's name - Graham Gardner - listed as one of the models. The model in question wasn't the founding member of the Leicestershire-based clothing company - in fact, his appearance at the shoot was a pure coincidence. Graham Gardner was provided for the shoot by a model agency - and was unaware of the client he was working for!'

Indeed, 'there has never been a better fit between product and model', James goes on (and go on he does). 'I was unaware of the coincidence before coming to the shoot. We all had a good laugh about it - before getting on with another fantastic day's photography'. Being an art lover, Monitor decided that such fantastic work which was based on such a fantastic coincidence deserved wider coverage: and here it is.