Does Monitor detect a split in the Tory front bench health team? Why, only last week, Alan Duncan turned down a much-coveted opportunity to contribute to HSJ's On the Record column on the grounds that such things were 'too trivial'. And then, before you know it, up pops Ann Widdecombe on Channel Four to answer a whole lot of impertinent questions about her bra while a strange chap named Simon Sebag Montefiore complains about her driving ability and ferrets around in her record collection (Jimmy Shand's greatest hits, The Seekers, and I was Kaiser Bill's Batman, if you're interested). Perhaps her number two just couldn't bring himself to answer the last question in On the Record: 'Who is your choice for future health secretary?'

Alas, we may never know - a previous engagement to watch paint dry will prevent Monitor from nipping down to Politico's bookshop in Westminster this week to ask the shadow health minister in person. The libertarian Mr Duncan will be there to sign copies of Saturn's Children, the book which landed him in hot water because its first edition appeared to suggest legalising drugs. Naturally he denied any such intention, and told the ubiquitous Mr Sebag Montefiore: 'I am against drugs. I have never even smoked a cigarette.' Curiously, in the same interview, the small but perfectly formed Mr Duncan said he wanted to die at the hands of an assassin. Sounds fun. Perhaps Monitor can make that book signing after all.

Moving on from well-fed politicians to their rather less well-fed constituents, who could do other than welcome public health minister Tessa Jowell's proposed new 'shopping desert action team'? Resisting the temptation to complain how difficult it is to find a branch of Harvey Nick's anywhere within reach of the Elephant and Castle, Monitor will instead seek to be constructive. Clearly what the initiative needs is a prominent Labour peer to take charge and force those profit-hungry supermarkets to open up on the housing estates - someone like, say, Lord Sainsbury.

Or there's always that nice Damien Hirst. Although his Pharmacy restaurant was soundly ticked off by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for misleading Notting Hill pensioners in search of haemorrhoid cures, he and co-owner Matthew Freud are reportedly planning more themed restaurants along similar lines. Monitor looks forward to lunching in Post-op and Sluice Room.

And finally, our friends at Hospital Doctor are outraged at United Bristol Healthcare trust's decision to sack one of its cardiac surgeons. Though Janardan Dhasmana was found guilty of gross professional misconduct and banned from operating on children for his role in the Bristol babies case, the medics' tabloid reckons he has been 'thrown to the wolves'. Indeed, Mr Dhasmana's former boss has now weighed in, arguing that the disgraced doc's results for adult cardiac surgery are 'top of the pile'. And who better to judge than James Wisheart.

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