The sound of willow smacking firmly on leather echoes around Quarry House. But as soon as they get tired of all that, a crack squad of NHS Executive officials, regional office bureaucrats and even a few real NHS staff intends to put in a bit of cricket practice.

They have been challenged by a social services eleven to a match on 10 July in Cambridge, and primary care division head Andy McKeon has accepted the task of putting a team together. Well, if you can't work across boundaries at least there's a chance of hitting balls across them.

But the real game this summer is obviously what's going on in France.

After the events in Marseille, though, Monitor reckons tomorrow's return match in London might be a bit of a sporting spectacular. NHS boss Sir Alan Langlands is sharing a platform with Gallic counterpart Professor Joel Menard at the Royal Society of Medicine. Can't you see it now - the French contingent chucking chairs at the platform while the counter-charge is led by the NHS Exec inter-city firm. That's Great North Eastern Railways, London to Leeds, first-class return, naturally.

Meanwhile, Monitor's special adviser on subliminal messages is currently pondering the meaning of the 'dead sloth' logo adopted by the King's Fund's Health Quality Service (see left). A rival interpretation is that the sloth is not dead, merely sunbathing. Any other suggestions?

A few words of wisdom from the upper house. In a House of Lords debate on the 150,000-plus people who fail to turn up for hospital appointments each year, the Earl of Lauderdale suggests a reminder system for older patients.'I find that, at the age of 87, I cannot read my diary, ' he says. 'Anyway, I have several diaries and miss my appointments simply through inadvertence.' Perfectly understandable - and clearly just the sort of person we want making laws for us.

Speaking of nobility, Monitor's old mate Lord Hunt's portfolio career goes from strength to strength. Not content with being a working peer, chairing policy think-tank IPPR's health forum, presiding over the Family Planning Association, being a part-time academic, dishing the dosh on the English Sports Council's lottery awards panel, and rethinking Birmingham's hospitals, the former NHS Confederation boss has taken on a top job with the bizarrely named After Today Management recruitment consultancy. 'I have desks everywhere, ' he confides. 'I've even got half a desk at the House of Lords now.'

Finally, it's good to see that peace has broken out down at University of Wales Hospital trust, where a strike over the privatisation of sterile services was suspended last week. Or, as the trust's PR company, Bell Pottinger Good Relations, put it, in a style which may go some way to explaining the hospital's industrial relations problems: 'The natives have stopped being restless.'