Home are the conquering political correspondents, after their five-week stint at the word front in Qatar. And what tales of derring-do they have! Doha, the capital, is supposedly dry, which is fine for the abstemious Americans but practically suicide for Brits and Aussies. The intrepid lobby brigade soon discovered that the big hotels have an "entertainment lounge", with a couple of Filipina danseuses to provide light relief. Lager was £3 a pint, three times the Westminster price. The Marriott threw a "women's night" and 200 sex-starved hacks went to ogle three Thai singers.
But the best entertainment was provided by Air Marshal Brian Burridge, commander of the British troops. He slagged off the British reporters as "standing for nothing", and was then surprised when they refused to pose for a team photograph with him.
George Galloway may have his troubles, but that hardly allows him to spit out "fuck off, you twat" at a fellow Scots MP. Is this the same Gorgeous George who once complained to the head of the Treasury civil service when Charlie Whelan called him a shit? Meanwhile, the Baghdad bounce appears to be a strictly south-of-the-border phenomenon. During a television debate, Jack McConnell, leader of Scottish Labour, was jeered for dumping on opponents of the war against Iraq.
At a hustings meeting in Inverness, a voter asked what was to become of Cawdor Castle, which is the subject of a family feud. The Scottish Socialist candidate said he would nationalise it and make Tommy Sheridan thane. Unfortunately, the post of Lady Macbeth is already held by the First Lawyer of Downing Street.
Sir Patrick Cormack, Westminster's very own Malvolio, was incensed at this column's leak of his plans to take the House Magazine's annual political awards from Channel 4 to the BBC. So here is another leak. The Beeb cannot decide on which channel this waste of taxpayers' money should be screened in July, presumably fearing it may bomb. Meanwhile, the prestigious Hansard Society, chaired by the Speaker, Michael Martin, has agreed to sponsor the Channel 4 awards next January.
The Murdoch press is touting Peter Mandelson's line that Tony Blair will not touch the shoulder of Gordon Brown as his chosen successor. This must be good news for the Chancellor, because Blair is the last person with whom he would wish to be associated in a Labour Party election. Ir'n Broon even advised his pal Michael Wills to deliver an anti-Blair speech at his nomination meeting in Swindon. Wills duly won.
Nick Wood, the Tory party's chief spin-doctor, is whistling his way round Westminster with a lost front tooth. He insists it was the result of a particularly active lamb chop, but you never know the temper of that Iain Duncan Smith.
What was that about piss-ups and breweries? The Commons authorities agreed to the Press Gallery bar selling a strong ale to celebrate the centenary of the reporting of parliament. Special labels were printed bearing a portrait of Speaker Abbot, who allowed journalists into the public gallery in 1803. The brewery delivered, but the bottles already bore the labels for a beer of an altogether different (and more common) denomination. They were all sent back.
Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror