Monitor can report that it's New NHS, New Upholstery in Frank Dobson's Richmond House eyrie. Our interior decor correspondent called in recently to find the dull grey sofas of the Bottomley-Dorrell era swept away and replaced by a couple of homely burgundy settees. And at no extra cost, either. Turns out Dobbo 'borrowed' them from former colleague Paul Boateng's office before Mr Boateng got his keys and discovered they were there for Dobbo to borrow. The walls are adorned with a couple of 1930s London Underground prints, advertising Haringey dog track and London Zoo, and a photograph of the Regent's canal at St Pancras taken by an unruly young constituent while serving time in a 'sinbin'. But pride of place goes to the portrait of Oliver Cromwell above the fireplace, which Dobbo inherited from Dorrell. Dobbo reveals he is soon to address the Cromwell Society. 'I'm a fan of the great man,' he says.
It's somehow difficult to see Dobbo as a puritan roundhead - unlike, say, Ann Widdecombe. The Blessed Virgin tells The Sunday Times she gave up coffee for Lent - so Monitor imagines she may be a touch on the whizzed- up side now. Of course, giving up coffee may not sound much of a sacrifice unless your life is really so boring that it becomes a hardship. But Monitor would be intrigued to know what Widdecombe's libertarian sidekick, oily Alan Duncan, denies himself. Well, Alan?
After an initial burst of enthusiasm over firstname.lastname@example.org, things seem to have gone rather quiet. Monitor was musing on the reason for this vow of silence on the part of the entire NHS - until a visit to the Healthcare Computing conference made everything clear. At the end of one presentation, a chap from the NHS Telecoms Authority stood up and asked the speaker to send him a copy of his talk. It was on computer, so the telecoms man said the speaker could send it to him over NHSnet. Without a trace of a smile, the speaker replied: 'Only if your technical assumption is correct. I think it's quicker just to post it to you.'