I have even fewer phobias than I have principles, but here's one of them: industry conferences. As a young Turk looking to make a name for myself in the orthopaedic and marital aids sector I would gladly attend the opening of a lunchbox at any Travelodge from here to Burgess Hill, my Samsonite crammed with surgical trusses and the odd sailor's friend. Sometimes I would take a bag of product samples along with me, too.

However, since moving into grocery, and then politics, it is deemed politic that I put in an extended appearance at the conferences of the deeply tiresome souls whose lives I regulate. Thus it was that I found myself at the IGD gig this week, while simultaneously ducking questions over my expenses from Sir Thomas Leggover and his band of merry men.

The do was not entirely without its diversions, principally the PR décolletage that is invariably draped decorously over the awards dinner tables (and later, with the aid of a schooner or two of Tia Maria, over the Pumster's grateful visage).

But for the most part it was the usual self-aggrandizing guff. Now that Marc Bolan's English has come right up to scratch we find that the reason we never understood him was not his language skills - he was simply talking bollocksh all along. St Peter Marks was also pulling out the bragging braces to the few spectators that didn't sleep through his presentation claiming that the Co-op had invented shops, food and indeed human life itself. Oh, and Professor Leahy was giving the Goodison kiss to the entire education system.

This was, of course, headline news and little wonder. A society in which anyone is not qualified to stack tampons at Tesco is an apocalyptic vision indeed.

But King of the Hill was undoubtedly Justin himself, who to his regal title has added that of president - albeit only of a body whose capacity for nauseating self-congratulation makes KJ a natural figurehead.

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