The Journal of Lynton Charles, Chancellor of the Duchy of Durham

Sunday Cheryl has gone on the anti-war demo clutching her "Not in my name" placard. I toy with telling her, when she comes back, that I have arranged, through the MoD, for the RAF to drop a particularly large bomb on Kandahar with "From Cheryl Charles - up yours, Osama" chalked on it. But much though the idea tickles me, I don't say anything. Cheryl may be a pacifist, but she is quite capable of violence. She loves humanity, but hates people. With me, it's the other way round. I am becoming rather wary of humanity.

Monday A little learning is indeed a dangerous thing. Lorelei, our Latvian au pair, after ten rather desultory years in Britain, has learnt just enough English to make the Sun her number one (and numbers two to a hundred) read. As a consequence, she is now convinced that we are about to be the victims of an anthrax attack. And that's if we haven't already been the target of a so far undiagnosed biological attack. Which, given her bad cold, she thinks we have.

So she will not go into the hall if the postman has just pushed the letters through the door, she will not go into the bathroom because she has seen white powders there, and she is now agitating for us to provide gas-masks for her and the kids.

Cheryl is not helping. Whenever Lorelei embarks on a bout of worrying (in which she calls her sister in Riga every hour, pours neat disinfectant on her hands and speaks only in a tiny, broken voice), Cheryl points at me and declaims: "Blame him! He made us a target! This is what comes of shoulder to shoulder!"

And there I was thinking that it was some mad terrorist who was doing these things. Well, now I know.

Tuesday Back at the House, the children are getting nervy. Hardly an hour passes without a phone call expressing "concern". Which is usually code for "I may be slipping off the ship soon".

I reassure Boss Hilary that this is to be expected. There will always be several groups who give you gyp in any war. First, there are the ones who hate you more than they hate the enemy. I'm only really talking here about Baghdad George, the man who "hears" things from senior sources in Iraq. I wonder sometimes how one manages to be in the same party as someone who seems to think that Tony Blair is a worse man than Saddam Hussein.

Then there are the old anti-capitalists, for whom whatever you do is likely to be wrong because you're not a real socialist. Never mind them.

Next come the genuine pacifists, who hate war and weapons, and for whom it is a real torture to be associated with bombs dropping on anyone. Grudging respect for this lot. I'd prefer a world like that as well.

But the biggest trouble comes from the fair-weather bombers. And they're coming out from under their desks at the moment because: a) somehow the Americans keep bombing Red Cross depots and their CLP doesn't like it, and b) it ain't over yet.

The worst of these are ex-ministers who stand up and express, in grave manner, their reservations. But it all comes down to the same thing. "We thought there was a special kind of war where only the bad guys ever get dead." Or "Oh my God, it's taken a whole week. Why isn't it finished yet?"

Bloody hell. Forget "over by Christmas", these days you have to promise it'll be over by the sodding weekend.

The bugger of it is that I'm a senior minister and I don't bloody know when it's going to end. I don't know what will happen about aid to the starving Afghans. I don't know who'll take over. I don't know anything.

And I'm not sure that anyone else does, either. Except Cheryl. Things are always so clear to her.

This article first appeared in the 22 October 2001 issue of the New Statesman, A plan for the world