I don't know which smartarse organised the 'care in the community' work placement undertaken by your slightly aristocratic correspondent, but I suspect dark dealings from Darling Alistair after I set him up with those B-list supermarket execs at that fatuous price summit last week.

In a pathetic attempt to understand real people, efforts are being made to get ministers out onto the shop floor to do some of your actual work - witness Hazel Blears' recent day of incompetent shelf-stacking at Tesco. No wonder the Labour Party now thinks it a subject worthy of a degree qualification.

In my usual fervour to serve the public (and spotting a clear opportunity to pick up a discount card for my favourite Clos du Mesnil champers), I put myself down for a couple of hours light admin at Fortnum & Mason. So imagine my delight when the draft papers revealed I had been seconded for the week to my local branch of Aldi. When I say local I'm glad to report that, having squared away the local planning officials for the past few years, the closest branch is a good hour in the DRIP Bentley away.

I tried to persuade Danaher, my reinstated chauffeur, to don the nylon uniform on my behalf, but he refused - using the same bribery threats regarding my personal life that saw him reinstated by those bastards at Unison - and thus I found myself reporting for duty to the store manager. I had assumed my role would be to roam the store swearing at customers and removing any unwilted produce from display, until the manager took me to one side and delivered my instructions sotto voce.

It turns out Aldi's methods for keeping a check on shrinkage caused by light-fingered staff are arguably a tad on the intrusive side. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with a week's worth of CCTV footage from the ladies' loo, but I'm sure Hauptkontor will be in touch shortly.