Hola canalla! - or hello rabble for those of you ill-versed in Spanish. I've just returned with my nostrils sullied, but otherwise unscathed, from the self-styled World Retail Congress, an industry circle-jerk of such gargantuan obesity that, after the awards do, 30 coaches were commissioned to get the drunken suits and acres of PR cleavage back to the Travelogia.

As HMG's official observer I was there to check out the talent - the rival retail talent, that is. And what I observed in Philip Green's suite at the Hilton would make your hair curl, not to mention that of the willowy Kate Moss. But I digress.

All of the glitterati were there, or at least all of the foreign nobs. What is it with retail execs and superannuated rock bands? First we have Marc Bolan making an unexpected return from the dead (in Bradford, appropriately enough). Then we get Carrefour's José Luis Duran Duran sending the entire retail sector into free-fall after he made some grumpy gallic utterance to the effect that "la distribution est complètement foutue".

But the Brits (and Andy Bond in particular, who would normally attend the opening of a Pot Noodle) were strangely absent. The Cheshunt brigade put in a grudging appearance in the form of Lucy Neville-Rolfe, but only to pick up a couple of absurd gongs. El Tel, though, opted to send his presidential benediction to the assembled by videogram. Turns out he doesn't dare leave the Cuffley Gulag in case some batty old scouse bag turns up in a bulldozer and tries to demolish the family seat.

At least that would cheer up the noble fourth estate after they were forced to admit, through gritted teeth, that Mike Dennis, the Arsène Wenger of financial analysts, may not have it all right after all.

Turns out Tesco will struggle through another quarter. £2.8bn? Every little helps.