And so on to the ACS Annual Conference held, not in an exotic seaside location, but Britain's second city Birmingham. The gala dinner was held in the oddly named Council House ­ a sumptuously decorated municipal building ­ with chairman Mike Bowen in his trademark white tuxedo loudly in evidence. Veteran retailer Les Brown was mentioned in despatches for having attended every annual conference for the last 50 years, but he still insists he was eight when he attended his first bash. Mind you, Les's great claim to fame is that he's a lifelong Stoke City supporter (our esteemed editor is the other one!) But judging by the crush at the hotel bar much later that evening, no one was taking the precaution of pacing themselves before their stint at the revitalised Convenience Retailing Show. Neither was anyone in the intrepid group, led by a senior drinks industry figure, last spotted heading out to lap up the delights of Birmingham's late night hot spots. Meanwhile, how important is price to convenience retailing? Budgens' trading director Cliff Goodman told the conference it was all about location and time. And he made his point thus: "If you are in a village store at 2pm, a pack of condoms has a value. If you are in Oxford Street with a beautiful young woman at 2am, it's got a completely different value." Back in London, and even the foot and mouth tragedy had its odder side. Like the Japanese tv crew which turned up at the entrance to MAFF asking to see Prince Charles. Is there something Tony hasn't told you, Nick? {{COUNTERPOINT }}