The state of the Prime Minister's health is what MPs want to talk about. The Strangers' Bar is like a fishwives' social. Most curious is the story that Tony Blair's hospital electrocardiogram might surface on the media market. One MP with detailed knowledge of the NHS suggested that the premier's ECG printout could be worth £1m. As I know to my cost, these documents are easy to read, and even a medical amateur could settle the vexed question of the Great Helmsman's heart problems. I suspect it is worse than No 10 would have us believe.
Perhaps that is why he is cutting short his trip to Africa, returning a day early from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria. The hacks are mightily relieved, but none of them expects a rebate on the £5,000 they are charged for accompanying the beloved leader.
I hear that Anne Jenkin has taken on the role of spin-doctor for the lovely ex-model Sandra Howard, the shadow first lady. This is very gracious of her given that Howard demoted her husband, the whingeing nudist Bernard Jenkin, from the defence portfolio to a minor role in local government.
Huge row at the Guardian's education section when Fiona Millar, aka partner of Alastair Campbell, wrote her first column. Millar, ex-adviser to Cherie Blair, wished to be described as a former adviser to Tony Blair - not surprisingly, since nobody in their right mind would wish to be identified as the First Lawyer's spin-doctor after Cheriegate. Grauniad chiefs agreed to cave in, but down in the paper's engine room, somebody inserted the correct description of the new writer.
Paul Marsden (Lothario and Shrewsbury) boasted to the tabloids that he could "get off" with women by telling them that he had been in talks with Blair and knew Charlie Kennedy. His chat-up line cannot have been worse than his verse. Sample, posted on his website:
She came in the night,
Dark hair, alive billowing as a trapped kite,
Marching forward, confident and right
Her hips swaying and her red lips tight,
Then that smile so devastating in its might,
Tongue rippling across teeth so white,
Breasts rising as I feel the urge to bite.
Eyes stalking its prey, she's relishing the fight.
Who would mess with this amazing sight?
In awe of womanhood so sexual and bright,
A wondrous sweet smell exacerbates my plight,
Arching her back, stretched to its full height,
I am captured forever, dazzled by feminine light.
As she came in the night.
Does that make girls faint? Byron, he ain't.
Old Labour's gormandising resort in Soho is to be celebrated in Long Drawn Out Lunches at the Gay Hussar, which features words about and caricatures of political and media figures from the unforgiving pen of the cartoonist Martin Rowson. Two NS columnists - myself and Charlie Whelan - are there. But not Gordon Brown, who allegedly can't sit still long enough to be travestied.
Paul Routledge is chief political commentator for the Daily Mirror