Hugh Grant and fridge magnets: it must be the Lib Dems

If it's Monday, it must be Birmingham. The party conference circus has come to town.

Welsh Lib Dems are out of force, even if conference "Welsh night" now means a few drinks in a chain pub rather than a lengthy musical extravaganza. I was in bed before Match of the Day 2.

The party's three MPs from Wales are bearing up despite their exclusion from the latest edition of Sky News Top Trumps. None of the 40 Welsh MPs make it into this year's selection of politicos ranked by such vital political criteria as fanciability and the number of twitter followers.

The Welsh Lib Dems went on a tour of the conference stalls this morning, partly, it must be said, for the benefit of our TV cameras.

A stall selling those essentials of political life, high-visibility jackets displaying the party's logo, was also trading well in Lib Dem fridge magnets and badges.

I was there when the stallholder broke the news to the Ceredigion MP Mark Williams, that his image had yet to shift a single fridge magnet, although four Mark Williams badges had been sold - some consolation there for the father-of-four even if the identity of the shoppers is unknown.

The Welsh Lib Dems accept that life as a junior coalition partner can be challenging, a view shared by many Plaid Cymru members.

Mr Williams said he and his fellow Welsh Lib Dems were "tempering the excesses of the Conservatives" in the coalition government.

He, Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams (no relation) and her deputy Roger Williams (also no relation) signed a giant postage stamp of Harlech Castle at the Royal Mail stand.

I couldn't resist asking whether Lib Dem pledges were worth the paper they were written on. "The Welsh ones are" snapped Kirsty Williams pointedly. Roger Williams used wartime poetry to assure me: "Through the mud, through the blood, to the green fields beyond."

Whatever their current problems - the Welsh Lib Dems lost 17 out of 40 deposits in the Welsh general election last May - Kirsty Williams at least had the consolation of having her photograph taken with the actor Hugh Grant.

The touch of Hollywood glamour was not to everyone's taste. Shortly after Mr Grant's speech to a conference fringe meeting, a member of the audience, Lord Roberts of Llandudno, was seen to lose his battle with the land of slumber and gently nod off.

Where does he think he is? The House of Lords?