Anyone who still believes the politicos are not like us mere mortals should have been in Brighton at New Labour's love-in this week. Joining many of grocery's greats, I went behind the security lines to dig out the real stories. Mind you, £225 a night at the Hotel Metropole, as enjoyed by Blair, Prescott and the gang, was not for me so I found a £26 ( full use of cruet) job in Shoreham. Back at the conference centre, I espied leading lights from four multiples and umpteen fmcg suppliers trailing around the fringe meetings, gorging themselves on gallons of free vino and chomping on tons of vol au vents. It was only when they heard Big Brother Stephen Byers pontificating about the "need for competitiveness in British business" that the self satisfied grins disappeared and fear froze their faces. Happiest guy around was agriculture minister Nick Brown despite rumours in the corridors that he's upset his cabinet colleague Byers by being too chummy with the profit-grabbing multiples. But the noisiest folk in town were the Barbourian hordes from the Countryside Alliance who hurled fire and brimstone at Blair and Co from behind the security barriers. Was it my imagination, or did I spot two luminaries from the IGD's top ranks skulking behind fellow protestors when the cameras moved in? However, my award for the bravest notion in Brighton goes to The Grocer's Belinda Gannaway who left her beloved auto parked on double yellow lines outside a swish restaurant on Monday evening. Given that John Prescott and David Trimble were noshing at the same eaterie it's a wonder the security men didn't cart our Belinda off to the slammer. {{COUNTERPOINT }}