Week in, week out, Monitor distorts the charming foibles of the NHS into something tawdry. Cheap digs at bureaucracy's inability to use the humble apostrophe correctly, relentless double entendres and a near obsession with the oversights of Britain's hardest working PRs. Smutty jokes about German professors with rude names getting hot and bothered in MRI scanners, too. But sometimes, dear friends, even Monitor feels a sense of shame. So this week a fresh approach, and a return to innocence with a real live joke: Tony Blair is being shown round a hospital, and towards the end of his visit he is taken to a ward to meet some of the patients. He approaches one man who has no obvious signs of injury, and asks him how he feels. The man replies: 'Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, great chieftan o' the pudding-race!'
Perplexed, the PM approaches the man in the next bed and asks him why he is in hospital. 'Some hae meat, and canna eat, And some wad eat that want it. But we hae meat and we can eat, And sae the Lord be thankit, ' says the man. A third patient tells him: 'Wee sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, O, what a panic's in thy breastie. . .' Embarrassed, Mr Blair turns to the doctor accompanying him and whispers: 'What's the matter with them? Is this the psychiatric ward?' 'No, ' replies the doctor. . . 'It's the Burns unit ! ! ! !' Boom boom.
Jokes can do us a power of good - and our noble representatives in Westminster can tell them in a way that takes some beating. Take the glorious David Drew, Labour and Co-operative member for Stroud. Who could think that a parliamentary debate about maternity services could provide fodder for his machine-gun wit?
In it, Mr Drew told the House: 'I want to speak almost entirely about the midwife-led aspect of maternity care.'
Fair enough, reckons Monitor. But Mr Drew doesn't leave it there, oh no siree: 'I was born through Caesarean section, through no fault of my own, and I know what an important aspect of care midwifery is.' Poor little poppet. Who among ye would blame the right honourable member for the shame that he brought on his mother? Who dares to cast the first stone, eh?
Speaking of things 'in them there parts', Doctor magazine last week reported a joyous moment when GP Laurel Spooner was asked to donate a prize for her children's school fundraising auction. Dr Spooner told the mag: 'I don't have time to make cakes or help out at jumble sales, so I decided to donate something I knew I could fit in.
Besides, my cakes are dreadful, but I can do a lovely vasectomy.'
And Monitor is happy to report that the King's Fund is back doing what it does best, with yet another strategic review. The policy wonks last week reported on four areas including policy and communications. Given that it is just two and a half years since those King's Fund bods had their last review, one anonymous outsider cou ldn't help but wonder just 'how many navels does it take. . . ? ' Monitor's attention is beginning to flag without the life-enhancing properties of smut and sleaze. So this week a brief treat for our lady managers. And it's a double dose, girls! First up, getting the horn in Essex, as Stephen Walsh, chief exec of Hornchurch primary care group, took a leap of faith to show us all exactly what he is made of.
Strapped into a harness in an outfit which left little to the imagination, Stevie gave passers-by a right eyeful in aid of the Royal National Institute for the Blind. Ah, sweet charity.
And while on the subject of hunks in the field, Monitor's chance to create a step change and move towards solving one of the biggest mysteries in health. Hard to be too far from the telly when Casualty spin-off Holby City strikes up its strangely unmemorable title music.
The series has left us for a while - the charismatic Nick Jordan having driven off into the sunset leaving the 'brutally cold yet passionate' consultant Anton Meyer (left) alone. But is Mr Meyer Welsh or Italian?
Monitor needs to know.