Well, it's been real. The Department of Retail Infrastructure and Pricing is no more.

I had cleared my desk long before Messrs Cleggover & Sons, Funeral Directors, came to visit. I didn't bother to attend the count in my marginal constituency. I've joined El Gordo and countless Polish cleaners on the dole queue.

I can hear now the whoops of joy, from the Holborn Coliseum to the Deathstar, from the Bradford whippet track to Bentonville, Yorks. The industry is off the hook.

So no-one, for example, will take 'Saint' Peter Marks to task for assuming that Somerfield would turn the Co-op, inevitably, into a Champions League contender.

Poor 'Skid' Marks reckons he has his board on side, but then again, even at the death, Gordon thought he could form a 'Rainbow' coalition until someone told him he would play the part of 'Bungle'.

And who will man the barricades as Cheshunt begins to erect its flat-pack identikit "villages" across such well-known idylls as Streatham? Who will mount a rearguard action as the Cameron'n'Clegg kindergarten invites Big Tel to assume responsibility for retail regulation in a fearful coalition with Andy Clarke, whose experience at Matalan and Iceland qualifies him amply for managing a debt-ridden economy in terminal decline.

No-one will remain to shed light on Bondandybond's parting shot - a price guarantee that must be given the same credibility as a pledge to cut the Greek budget deficit. Simply fill in these six forms, post your receipt special delivery to Leeds and, in less than 18 months, receive the balance (minus p&p) in vouchers for Cheap & Cheerless instant tripe and onions.

And as for the Pumster, who knows? I guess I'll be spending more time with my family, or at least the notionally legitimate ones. But I'm still holding out hope for a swift peerage and a seat in the Lords. Then I'll be knocking you all into shape. Just you wait.

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