The Journal of Lynton Charles, Fiduciary Secretary to the Treasury

Monday The flood alert on the Yibb is finally withdrawn, and three of my constituents (all Tories, I'm sure) can now return to their homes. My appearance in Yibbridge at dead of night has drawn some favourable coverage in the local papers - thanks to Sallyanne Bertoni - and the political balance-sheet stands at plus rather than minus.

And Mr Brown is in sunny mood, following the reports from Hyde Park suggesting that the fuel demonstration drew crowds on a par with the Spartacist League's 1974 "Ban The Capitalist World Cup" picket of Wembley Stadium. I bet T-shirts for that event could now fetch a small fortune. One revolt down and, I dare say, not many rioting days left before polling-day.

So the waters are receding. The fuel protests are receding. The economy isn't receding. While you can't exactly say that all's right with the world, it doesn't feel quite as bad as it did a couple of weeks ago. Except that there are no more meetings of the emergency committee to attend and I have to go back to the bloody Ministry of Manure and Offal to do my Treasury outreach. Honestly, it's like community service, except without the soaring sense of achievement.

Tuesday Another amazing dream. Is it my diet? This one, however, has me engaging in a nude amphibian clinch with Sallyanne Bertoni in the waters of the Yibb. Somehow the Yibb has ceased to be a cold torrent full of cow dung and plastic bags, and has transformed itself into a limpid, slow-moving, tropical stream, as warm as custard. Sallyanne herself is a revelation. Stripped of her sou'wester and luminous cagoule, she turns out not to be the rather lumpy, anonymous figure that I had thought her, but a nubile and adventurous partner in l'amour.

This is disquieting, as (a) I didn't realise I found her at all attractive; (b) though Cheryl and I only really get it together on holidays abroad, or else when there is absolutely nothing else to do and therefore no possible excuse for abstinence, I do try not to think about it; and (c) the Robin Cook episode showed that you don't have to be some right-wing moralist to be the target of the tabloid sex police. However, that doesn't stop a man having feelings. And when he has them - and I don't want to get all Alan Clark about this - it's hard to get his head around set-aside.

Part of the problem is The Master and his bloody family values. I mean, we have proof that he and Cherie are active in that sense, and I can't help feeling that The Master fundamentally believes that everyone else is like him. The papers say that he has only narrowly been persuaded not to launch a Labour Crusade for Marriage by Lady Jaystone who, like most aristos, has had more husbands and lovers in the past year than Tony has had in his life. Thank God for her ladyship, I say. In the meantime I shall do my best to banish all thoughts of Sallyanne naked in the Yibb. But it's hard.

Wednesday Helping out at the Havant West by-election, where the voting is due next week. Not an easy experience. I am canvassing in the town centre when I am set upon by an old lady. She complains that her friend was up at casualty in the local hospital a week ago (palpitations, apparently) and that it took five hours before anyone saw her.

I sympathise and remind her that the extra money we're putting into the NHS will eventually help. But she is not mollified. "I thought you were going to improve the NHS as soon as you got in," she says. "And it's not improved."

No, I tell her firmly, we always said that it would take a long time, and it has.

She is unabashed. "Well I didn't believe you then," she replies, "and I don't believe you now."

This article first appeared in the 20 November 2000 issue of the New Statesman, The New Statesman Interview - Lord Falconer