The Journal of Lynton Charles, Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Friday Mr Brown has been what Bertie Wooster (with whom I sometimes think I have an affinity) would have called a "brick". The discovery that it was my big mouth that set off the latest round of Mo-mauling had put me in fear of my job, but - fortunately - disciplinary action was referred by No 10 to the exchequer.

"We have all been there," being Mr Brown's forgiving comment.

"He's in a bloody good mood," I whisper to Ed, in a short break when the beetle-browed boss nips out for a pee.

"Wouldn't you be?" replies the super-brain, smiling. "What's the one thing that everyone agrees about, even if they think that everything else is going belly-up? That the economy is the strongest it's been since Alfred the Great, and that Mr Brown is the best minister in the government. So, yes, he's had worse times."

I recall something that M said last week about how The Master is like the picture of Dorian Gray, aging rapidly with all the strains and vices of government etched on his visage, and that Mr Brown is Dorian, looking - if anything - younger than he did in May 1997.

Mr Brown returns, his shirt emerging untidily from his fly. He is deep in thought. "Lynton," he rumbles, resuming his seat behind the vast desk, "there are two pressing tasks this week. One is to launch the new scheme for tax breaks to those who invest in communities, which will boost charity income by a billion, and the other . . ." - he pauses and chews the inside of his cheek - ". . . is to go to Wales and explain to the Labour group in the Assembly why they can't just be given a shit-load of government money up front just because they're taking flak from the Nats. Now, in view of our earlier discussions, which job would you like?"

"I would love, above all else," I say wearily, "to go to Wales."

Monday Organ Morgan is in full and rapid spate. "We understand the Treasury's position as members of the wider Labour Party, of course. But as members of the Welsh party, we do not understand it quite so well. Was it the bard of Beddgelert, Llewellyn the Blind, who said that 'the wind knows what the black bush on the dark hill cannot know, because he sees the pasture by coast at Aber'? You cannot give us the money right now, of course you can't. And yet, in a Welsh sense, we must have that money guaranteed, and we must have it from you. And there it is."

There is widespread nodding among the Labour group. Poor old Alun, his face a picture of misery, looks helplessly on.

I have not understood a word that Organ has said. One of the features of devolution appears to be that you quickly lose common political language. Organ was always a bit doolally, but we basically spoke the same tongue. Now it's all Greek to me. They no longer talk Westminster - which, I suppose, was the whole idea, but it's still disconcerting.

I have carefully explained that the matching funding is there in the Budget for this year and is in the comprehensive spending review for future years, but that it cannot be guaranteed, any more than any other budget can be guaranteed. They have all assented to that, and then they have all told me that - logic notwithstanding - that they must have it all the same.

This thought is interrupted by a thump on a table, and a choleric-faced Assembly-person stands. "My name's Evan Evans, and my family's been loyal to Labour - man and boy - for 400 years. But now I'm a rebel, boy! Whatever it is, I'm not putting up with it! Tell them in London that the dragon is red, and he's revolting!"

Worse, I think, he's enjoying himself.