Still, if the boys appeal, the case may well fall to a particular judge who specialises in building disputes, not to mention exotic nights out with escort girls.

Good old Judge Thornton has at least managed to hold on to his job, because Lord Mackay believed his story that he did not know the escort girls had criminal records and he didn't take drugs. Sounds like Lord Mackay is a bit of a softie. If you ask me, I think Judge Thornton was asking for it.

I spent a weekend on Old Father Thames recently with a load of my old mates from college. Old Mother Thames was obviously down the shops. As an all-female crew, we ran the risk of being identified as a "hen weekend" and had to pay a whacking great deposit just in case we crashed the boat into a stag party boat, scuttled it in a PMT frenzy, or got so drunk we tangled the engine up with our crochet efforts. As we progressed through several locks, we found that on the whole, with a few exceptions, lock keepers expected us to be crap, barking orders or giving us that resigned "oh dear, six owners of ovaries on a boat" look. We were determined to get through a lock unassisted, just to prove it's not only the boys who are good at manual operation. Despite fantasies of ending up upside down on a mud flat, crushed by the lock's huge gates, we managed it and chugged triumphantly back to base. Despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we avoided serious crashes and kept well away from the bank because it is too shallow. Not so the skipper of the Stena Sealink, unfortunately.

Not long ago, family and friends were all you had to fall back on in times of trouble. It doesn't seem that way any more. A woman won compensation this week after being sacked from the firm she had handed over to her sons to avoid inheritance tax. Well, Freud would have had a fair bit to say about that relationship, I'm sure - two sons who have well and truly shafted their mother.

Added to that, three workmates were forced to take workmate number four, one Paul Pitt, to court after he reneged on a deal to give them all 25 grand each if he won the pools. Firstly, 75 big ones seems like peanuts when you've got your hands on 1.8 million, and secondly, one might have imagined that even if he hadn't agreed it, he might have actually wanted to give his friends some of his winnings.

British Telecom is currently advertising its new video phone, and I think it's a very bad idea. There you are on a Sunday morning with your hand up a chicken's rear, plastic carrier bag on your head keeping a hundredweight of soggy henna in check, with very badly applied chocolate lipstick on and a bloke you really like decides to give you a bell. Still, if he manages to get through this particular video nasty, at least you'll know he likes you for your personality.

"Bet's pulled her last pint" and other cliches abound as Bet Lynch, alias Julie Goodyear, legs it from the Rover's Return. I can't say I blame her. I've done two stints as a barmaid, one full-time for a year and one when I was a student in the pub from hell near Uxbridge. A barmaid's day divides into three main periods. The first few hours are spent being talked at by pub bores who stagger in on the dot of opening time and regale you with tales of hernias for hours until it gets busy. Then there's the lunch-hour rush, and then the interminable last hour (this was when pubs closed at three, much to my relief) You are scrutinised, commented on and occasionally physically assaulted. However, at least (unlike Burger King) we weren't encouraged to take breaks and then not get paid for them. Given the frenzied debate about the minimum wage, it seems certain employers will always find a way round paying people a decent wage for menial jobs. As a student, you tend only to need money for drinking and tins of soup that look like they've got lumps of wallpaper paste in them, but if the wages drop any more, I know what will have to go first, and it won't be the soup.

I haven't had a night out on the tiles for ages. Just seems I don't get the opportunities to play Scrabble like I used to. Also, I have been put off by a rather eerie experience I had recently. One night, playing Scrabble with a friend of mine, Jeff, we chose letters to see who started. He picked an E and so did I. He picked a V, so did I. He picked an I. Me too. All we needed to complete the word "evil" was an L each. We waited with baited breath for Exorcist-type music and lightning to strike. Then I picked an O and he picked an M. We were both a bit disappointed, really. Still, the odds of picking three of the same letters must be fairly unlikely. Unfortunately, maths was never my strong point, so I've never got round to working it out. Any GCSE students out there who want to prove that educational standards haven't dropped?