IT GOES without saying that we're all very surprised - and deeply saddened - by the sudden Portillo cancellation. As most of you have probably already heard, Michael is not returning for our autumn session because of unforeseen career commitments, which is a pity, as I think the whole staff would agree that we were making some real progress there. I told him myself, when he came by my office to get his Rolex out of the safe, that I didn't think he was ready to fight a by-election. Still, he's come a long way. We must remember that this time two years ago he was still refusing to admit that he was even a little bit Spanish.
There is some good news: I think I've pretty well talked Michael into coming back in the spring to lead a seminar called Giving Up On Gay: Is Your Homosexuality Holding You Back? That title is provisional, by the way, in case anyone has any good puns. A high-profile MP (fingers crossed!) like Michael could really turn the whole Past Life Repression department around. I'll bet there's a lot of folks out there who are desperate to face up to youthful indiscretions in a healthy, positive, opinion-poll- friendly manner. I was even toying with the idea of changing the name of the Persuasion Reassignment Wing to Peter House, although I'm worried it might attract a lot of right-wing philosophers on dirty weekends. They're free to come if they want to, but I'm not doing any discounts.
Elsewhere on the psycho-political front, we've had a big response to the Harriet Harman promotion, including some discreet inquiries from a number of Labour MPs (no names, sorry!). Harman Obsessive Vengeance syndrome is a much more widespread phenomenon than many of our competitors realised, so we seem to be in the forefront as far as treatment is concerned. A number of clients who have been working with the Harriet puppets are now HOV-negative, and we have plans to replace the puppets with a fully digital virtual Harriet. If anyone can do her voice, please call me and leave a sample on my answering machine.
Pathological obsession with politicians is an obvious growth area for us, but we must be careful how we proceed, or we might end up looking foolish. Last week one of the sex counsellors tried to tell me about a guy who likes to dress up as Margaret Beckett. I told him, don't even think about it.
Note to all staff in the Career Resuscitation Unit: stand by for another ex-EastEnder. Patsy Palmer has left the show, as if you didn't know, and she should be arriving sometime after six on the shuttlebus, depending on the traffic. I understand we're a bit short on beds in the Soap Suite, but casting changes of this nature are notoriously difficult to predict and our intelligence reports are not all they could be. As if this weren't enough, there was some kind of explosion on Brookside a couple of weeks back, and as a result we're now having to ration tennis court time. When Ms Palmer gets here I would like her to be given a thorough debriefing, even before she's searched, in case she has any clues as to who else might be getting the push this year. I hear one of the bald ones might be getting killed soon.
I know I've said this before, but we'd have a lot more space on the ward if the Career Resuscitation Unit was doing its job properly. Has anyone found anything for Vanessa yet? What's happening with her Christmas single? In the old days we used to get three anorexics in that room. I know the CRU has had some incredible successes this year, but that's no reason to rest on our laurels, people. Let's all stop patting ourselves on the back about Martine McCutcheon, and get back to work.
Last but not least: the lovely Mrs Zoe Ball-Boy Slim will be checking in some time next month for some pre-family counselling. Her stay here is essential to the promotion of our newest concept, the idea that people should plan a breakdown and a recovery before they start a relationship, career or family, instead of the other way round. I've been talking to her people about maybe doing some billboards. Mrs Ball-Boy-Slim is by all accounts a happy, lively, well-adjusted individual, so it's your job to convince her that there's something wrong with her. Good luck.