This week, advanced theoretical thinking from John Prescott, more dodginess from Comrade Foster and a Yes, Minister moment from Phil Hope

Mr Prescott’s humorous asides
I have a further gaffe to report from our very own deputy prime minister John Prescott. The Mouth of the Humber has recently been airing his views on “over-promoted bloody popped up backbencher” and cabinet colleague Alan Milburn. And he was in equally eloquent form when visiting PCKO’s Polish-built prefab houses in south London. Apparently Prescott muttered under his breath that they were ideal for smuggling foreign workers into the UK.

Late entries
More on that caption competition. My announcement of a winner last week was a tad hasty. Although Martin King of Castons was a worthy winner, I was deluged with further responses from readers after the deadline. One suggestion from Paul Atkins at Oxford council deserves a prize. He suggested the train driver behind the octet of adjudicators and arbitrators was saying: “Please stand to one side and let the camera focus on my Thomas the Tank Engine pyjama bottoms and slippers”.

More readers’ suggestions are viewable online at

A man of letters
A quick mention of our interviewee this week (pages 28-30), the juggling regulations minister Phil Hope. The Hopester was running through a mnemonic he had worked out with his daughter to remind himself of what all the regs actually referred to. "A is for architecture, which makes me think of structure. B is for bomb, which makes me think of safety.” “And C?” we asked? “I’d stop there if I were you, minister,” interjected quickwitted civil servant Paul Everall.

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Across the Andes by milk float
Over the years, I have come to detect which company's PR directors have the most bottle when it came to dealing with pests from the journalistic profession. But it did come as a surprise when news reached me that Amec spinmeister Nick Welsh is a trained milkman. Apparently, Welsh passed a course in milk delivery when he was a youth, then worked long enough to get the money to travel the world. The loss to the milk industry was to the gain of construction, I'm sure you'll agree.