Monitor was most impressed by the way the private Grovelands Priory Hospital dealt with our dear friend Augusto Pinochet. After all, not every bed blocker gets a blue-light London ambulance to take them home. But it did make Monitor wonder whether a similar facility was on offer to others in need of a rapid trip across the capital. After all, it can be hell to get to work some days. Alas, LAS was not very forthcoming. A rather terse statement says that making the ambulance available 'at no time affected emergency services' and that the operation 'was undertaken at no cost to the NHS'. Since this was a security operation, any further questions, it harrumphs, are a matter for the still-less responsive Scotland Yard.

Not that the police were much help with the rabble of anti-abortion activists who besieged the Glasgow branch of Boots offering contraceptives to teenagers. In the end, apparently, a bunch of Leftie counter-demonstrators saw them off. 'I've never had occasion to be pleased by a Trotskyist intervention before,' Greater Glasgow health board's formerly much demonstrated-against boss, Chris Spry, incautiously remarked within Monitor's hearing.

If you were a Labour minister looking to shake up the quangocracy, who better to sack than Surrey Ambulance Service trust chair Lady Helen Gardiner? A formidable operator herself, and the wife of former maverick Tory MP Sir George Gardiner, her NHS career appeared to have crashed this time last year. But within weeks of dismissing her, Dobbo had to go cap in hand to ask her to come back for a few months while he found a successor. A lengthy trawl of every Labour hack in the county followed (an open and thoroughly Nolan-compliant recruitment process, surely? - Ed), but it found no one up to the task, and Lady Helen is now back in charge for three more years.

Apparently PCG Alliance boss Michael Dixon's troubles didn't end when, as Monitor revealed last week, an explosion in a fireworks factory demolished his home. It seems the insurance man took one look at the 16th century wreckage and pronounced: 'Ah, it's an old house so it was probably falling down anyway.' It was only after a BBC researcher looking for a case study to illustrate the problems people have with insurance companies got in touch, and Dr Dixon passed on the good news, that his insurers had a sudden rethink and decided that it would foot the whole bill after all.

Finally, a Christmas quiz. How much does European Healthcare Management Association boss Philip Berman earn? The Dublin-based Eurocrat told a conference last week that, though he didn't like revealing personal details, his January salary would be his first paid in Euros - 6,250 of them, to be exact. 'But none of you will have any idea of whether I'm well paid or badly paid,' he added. Hmm, let's see now...