Monitor was flabbergasted when the bastion of journalism that is the Sunday People revealed that the NHS was putting 'free condoms into birdboxes for sick gay orgies'. In a children's beauty spot, no less. Time for a bit of digging, so to speak. The Sunday People explains that one birdbox was in a 'homosexual haven next to a layby on the A33'. The Sunday People's definition of laybys as aesthetically pleasing suggests that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Takes all sorts, as they say - although not perhaps at the Sunday People.
Its story reports the fears of angry mothers that the scheme will increase the number of homosexuals who 'haunt' the beauty spot. Indeed Christine Walden - an 'angry mum' and 'parish councillor' (Both! What joy! ) - is wheeled out to point out that, yep: 'It's the permissive society gone mad.'
Monitor went straight to Lodden Community trust , in Basingstoke to check out whether 'cash starved health service chiefs' really were encouraging men who have sex with men to help themselves to 'contraceptives scattered around the countryside'. Well yes, pretty much. Except that the trust takes issue with the notion that it was actually encouraging them since the initiative was 'never publicised in any way'. And the birdboxes weren't ac tua l ly at a beauty spot - it was just that the rather tightfisted 'men who have sex with men' went to all the trouble of filching the sheaths from their lay-by location for use at a beauty spot location some distance away.
Monitor - asking the questions no-one else dares ask - queried how the MWHSWM (Didn't there used to be a word for it? ) stumbled on the idea that they might find more than bread crumbs if they went rummaging in a birdbox. Clearly more clued up on the habits of MWHSWM than Monitor, a spokesperson for the trust suggests that the fact that the birdboxes were 'new and hadn't been there before' was enough to arouse their curiosity. The trust also points out that it started the initiative two years ago in conjunction with local police following 'substantiated reports of men practising unsafe sex at a local site'. Ooh those coppers do love substantiating, don't they?
Nonetheless, the voice of the Sunday People, thunders on: 'Married couples wouldn't be handed free condoms if they fancied making love outdoors' so why should gay men 'who get their thrills from sex in the bushes with strangers?' A final word from the trust, where a beleaguered spokesperson points out that the£5,000 initiative came from AIDS money which was 'ring-fenced'.
Monitor is almost too exhausted from such relentless research to write on, but the efforts of our palest health minister to inspire the nation's youth leave little option. Now Monitor's grooving days are not quite over. Some might say the shimmy is not as slick as it used to be, but there are still some tunes from pop's halcyon days - hail Perry Como - that can get the toes a-tapping. Heartening then, to learn that health minister John Hutton (pictured left) is a fellow jiver.
Launching the Campaign to End Living Miserably - no, it's not a promotion flagging up the benefits of suicide - Mr Hutton was quite prepared to rock on if it would cheer anyone up. (Where, Monitor wonders, is the evidence base for that theory? ) And he wasn't alone - no, Johnny was supported by some of the North West's 'most successful musicians' in backing the battle to tackle depression-related suicide among young men in Merseyside.
Launching the scheme at Liverpool nitespot Cream (a place where teenage children would never take drugs), Mr Hutton was joined by China Crisis, Gary Christian and Pete Wylie. Monitor would like to help readers who fear that their ignorance of the aforementioned entertainers stems from unawareness of the hip sounds on the street as we enter a new millennium. So let's look at their track record. First off, China Crisis who last stormed the charts in 1987, reaching the number 36 spot. Good on you lads. More Scouse talent, then, in Gary Christian - his role in band the Christians peaked in 1988 with a top10 charting of an Isley Brothers cover (Oh come on, surely you remember them). Finally, the inimitable Pete Wylie - who never quite managed a top-10 position but did release three records, the last a decade ago. I'm sure their exclusive performance cheered up all of Liverpool's miserable buggers. And if not, why don't they just move?