Monitor is able to bring more news this week of the doctors 'from one of the most famous London hospitals' whose holiday exploits on the Grand Union Canal ended when the owner of their canal boat arrived with a boarding party and forced them to walk the plank. Canalboat Holidays boss Norman Clarke reports that the vessel left Weedon 'some time after midnight and caused mayhem as it travelled south with a very intoxicated crew'. He goes on: 'Bottles were thrown, boats, bridges and tunnels collided with and loud music played.' And there's more. Having failed to disentangle a rope from the propeller, the boat sailed on with the weed hatch and clamping bar improperly secured (it says here). 'Most boats would have sunk,' notes Mr Clarke. After six complaints, he turned out to read the riot act to what he thought was a six-strong crew. 'In fact eight crew were found to be on board. Two were sleeping on the canal bank perilously close to the edge and could easily have rolled into the canal...' In 34 years of hiring boats, he says, this is the first time a crew has been removed. 'We will certainly do our utmost to see that no such crews slip through the net in future.'

Perhaps the best option would be to tighten up security - and Monitor knows just the people to do it. Orbis Security Systems writes of its automatic numberplate recognition for hospital car parks (see picture). The company claims a 100 per cent success rate - and in case you can't read the words on the picture, the 'action' message is: 'Please tell Lee Laing that the meeting has changed buildings. Please park in parking bay B.' So bang go all those excuses about not finding a parking place in time to make the meeting, or turning up at the wrong venue.

Moving swiftly on, Monitor is delighted to report that devolution has unleashed a wave of innovation in the world of Scottish public health, from where word arrives of two initiatives. In the first, the Health Education Board for Scotland has enlisted the help of '12 of Scotland's biggest personalities' for a TV commercial. Particularly intriguing is the choice of newspaper boss Andrew Neil - who some may recall edited The Sunday Times when it ran a long campaign attempting to persuade us that HIV had nothing to do with AIDS. The second comes in the shape of a press release from Alzheimer's Scotland announcing that a BBC Scotland sports presenter 'will team up with an elephant' to launch a freephone number for the charity. Apparently the pachyderm connection has nothing to do with wrinklies. As the press release sensitively puts it: 'Elephants never forget; but memory loss is one of the first problems for people with dementia.'

Monitor never forgets either, and is pleased to pass on news of our old mate - and, incidentally, Andrew Neil's old mate, too - former Tory health minister Gerald Malone. Having been kicked out by the voters of Winchester twice at the last election (you may recall he contested the result), our Gerry has found himself a little part-time job as non-executive director of hospital shower and ceiling-hoist installers Chiltern Invadex. The official announcement says the firm is a leading service provider for the 'less able'. Which is nice.

However, Monitor is becoming fearful for the well-being of the present incumbent of Gerry's old job. It seems 'Sir' John Denham (1615-68) is best known as a poet, the author of Cooper's Lane, which contains the possibly autobiographical lines:

'Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;

Strong without rage; without o'erflowing, full.'

Not that a propensity for poetry is, of itself, cause for concern. It's just that our man was also a rather incompetent royalist commander in the English civil war - and bearing in mind that Dobbo has a portrait of Oliver Cromwell on his wall, Monitor notes that it is but a short step from Richmond House to the site of King Charles I's unfortunate run-in with a sharp axe.

More news from the world of politics. Monitor was delighted to see Welsh Assembly first secretary Alun Michael kicking off Cardiff's gay and lesbian Mardi Gras, but couldn't help wondering whether the invite was meant for Ron Davies. He had more of a touch for the common man.

Finally, as we wait for a response from Dobbo to our plea to Save Bart's Apostrophe, word arrives from HSJ reader Michael Whitcroft of related problems elsewhere. 'Watford General Hospital is famous for its 'stationary store' which, contrary to its name, may well have moved around the site on a number of occasions,' he writes.

Monitor@healthcare. emap.co.uk