OK, so that sounds rather too apocalyptic -- it's only a resignation, after all. You'll still be able to see him around, probably stacking the shelves at the local store (well, he has said he's not going to take the top job again).
It's some time since I've seen him -- eighteen years, to be precise. It was in his SDP days, of course, when he came to speak at a meeting I'd arranged. Taking him to dinner was slightly bizarre: we undergraduates could stand him a meal at Pizza Express, and that let him regale us with tales of the chain's owner, his friend nice Mr Boizot.
He was pleasant enough then, and so I'm sure he has remained. But that, I thought, was that: he's nowhere near being a politician to set the pulse racing and get the juices oozing. That his resignation is such high-profile news is more a reflection of the paucity of other stories rather than a tribute to his intrinsic charisma. But something he's said has made me rethink my opinion.
In assessing his own achievements, he's highlighted the part he's played in the war on 'animal rights' extremists -- getting a change in the law and a police unit set up to help deal with this problem. And, yes, sitting here in Oxford, where those extremists want to stop scientific research and the laboratory needed for it, that certainly is an achievement. There's little good I would credit the Labour government with having done, but this would be in the short list. So, thank you, Mr Sainsbury. You deserved that pizza.