If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? Monitor has always found other people a fairly safe bet. This week begins with a minions say the funniest things special - starting with the cute and curious world of public relations. Take the partnership between the prison service and the NHS, agreed by all to be a super idea at a sparkling launch last spring. When East London and the City health authority mislaid former chief exec Peter Coe, believing him to be still seconded to prison healthcare, an HSJ hackette was happy to assist the NHS in its efforts to find him by phoning the prison service. Alas, the prison service had no idea of his whereabouts either , venturing a guess that he was back at the HA.

After several days delay , which saw a sorry effort to sing from the same hymn sheet (or get their stories straight, as common parlance would have it), PR hired hand Jonathan Street - acting on behalf of the HA - made a sheepish request. Could HSJ pass on the telephone number of the prison service press office?

Some time later came a call from a young lad, looking for the number of the NHS Litigation Authority , for a project he was doing.

Well, educations taken a bumpy road since short-trousered scamps pondered the mysteries of the steam engine, thought Monitor , before suggesting that the quaking youngster call the Department of Health. Which is when the pre-pubescent voice squeaked: That's where I'm calling from.

The fight against dumbing down continues apace. Praise the Lord for the British Medical Journal , recently probing the world of sex with two festive pieces of academic research. Are there excess Sharons in genito-urinary clinics? found that the real culprits of easy virtue are Kelly and Louise . They topped the charts of most popular names of attendees at a Southampton STD clinic.

Meanwhile, in the same edition, researchers from the Netherlands report their breakthrough discovery: Magnetic resonance imaging of sexual intercourse is both possible and useful. Professor Willibrord (I kid you not) Weijmar Schultz recruited eight loving couples and three scrubbers - whoops, that should read empowered single women of today - willing to do it in the name of research. Thirteen experiments over seven years revealed that sex could indeed be managed in the 50cm diameter tube. Kinky Prof Willibrord found that during intercourse the penis is neither straight nor S-shaped as had been previously thought, but is, in fact, the shape of a boomerang. Brings a whole new meaning to the comeback kid. All the women had a complete sexual response, but those who reached orgasm described it as superficial. Monitor urges all readers to keep their bodily fluids away from pricey technology .

And the ivory towers of academia provide further rich pickings this week, with Professor David Hunter's latest photo-shoot revealing a jaw-dropping likeness to one of soap s best loved stars (see left).

Terry Sullivan was one of Brookside's less fortunate residents - taken hostage and widowed when his wife was pushed off a roof, he finally fell prey to a bizarre cult and got rather fat. The jury is still out as to whether Prof Hunter can match such a colourful life, as he takes up his new post as professor of health policy and management at the University of Durham. But Monitor begins the new century with a special appeal: if you, or someone close to you, bears an unfortunate resemblance to a B-list celebrity , don't keep it a secret.

Lifting things to a higher level, Monitor had hoped to inspire you with a seasonal good-will message, but has been sadly disappointed. It seemed a simple enough request: could health secretary Alan Milburn share with readers his new year's resolution? A po-faced Department of Health spokesman sneered: The secretary of state is too busy reforming the NHS to have a new year's resolution. So that's you told. Luckily, new chief nurse Sarah Mullally has a little more time to spare. Her vow? To carry on trying to learn from what I do. Deeply dull.

And finally, Monitor has a salutary warning from the US for the burgeoning hospital accreditation industry in this country . Having forecast a $5m profit this year, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations was due to make a $2m loss when it closed the books on 31 December . Nearly 80 jobs have already been cut, and JCAHO believes business is going to get even worse next year , according to the US magazine Modern Healthcare . But its ot all bad news: chief executive Dr Dennis O'Leary is getting a 52 per cent pay rise, taking his total compensation to $684,732.