Spirits were high at the In & Out club on London's St James's Square on Tuesday night. As excerpts from books by the authors shortlisted for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award were teasingly read to the packed plush room, the crowd chortled loudly. It was Rachel (sister of Boris) Johnson's animal metaphors, comparing her male character's fingers to "a moth caught inside a lampshade", that made her the 16th winner for her satirical novel Shire Hell, follow-up to Notting Hell.
But it was the presence of The Wire star Dominic West that rendered the evening the hottest invite in town. His invitation from the Literary Review to present the award, he said, came with the explanation, "When it comes to bad sex, you are the first person that springs to mind", and he went on to joke about his star character's unromantic encounters and some lesbian-sex incidents on the hit Baltimore-set television show.
Enjoying free-flowing gin and champagne in the room full of towering historic paintings, Toby Young, Anthony Grayling, Nancy Dell'Olio and the Satanic Sluts mingled happily (Andrew Sachs's granddaughter Georgina Baillie's risqué costume perfectly matching the deep red of the sumptuous walls).
Making his way to leave the party, West was accosted by one fan lavishing praise on him, and he revealed his black beanie-hat emblazoned with the words The Devil's Whore, the Channel 4 television series in which he's currently starring. "That's all they gave us!" he quipped, with a smile, as he donned the hat to brace himself for the chilly night air.