Suzi Feay: Literary man: he eats, shoots and ogles Jordan

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The Independent Culture

Red carpet etiquette - head down, walk fast, ignore the photographers (they'll certainly ignore you), don't bump into Kathy Lette. "Hi guys!!" she screeches at the cameras. Click click click. Ecstatic yells of "Alan! Alaaaaan!" from members of the public behind the barriers. Whoops, don't bump into Alan Titchmarsh either. Marvel anew how small and worried celebrities invariably look. Yes, it's the British Book Awards - and why can't we ordinary folk just sneak in round the back instead of all this palaver?

Red carpet etiquette - head down, walk fast, ignore the photographers (they'll certainly ignore you), don't bump into Kathy Lette. "Hi guys!!" she screeches at the cameras. Click click click. Ecstatic yells of "Alan! Alaaaaan!" from members of the public behind the barriers. Whoops, don't bump into Alan Titchmarsh either. Marvel anew how small and worried celebrities invariably look. Yes, it's the British Book Awards - and why can't we ordinary folk just sneak in round the back instead of all this palaver?

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Did Judy Finnegan really introduce Diarmud Gavin as "the sexiest gardener since Lady Chatterly's Lover"? Mellors was a gamekeeper, surely. I get it, outdoor servant, same difference, right? Then every man in the room stiffened... er, let's try that again. Every man in the room stood to attention... oh good grief, every man in the room looked extremely interested when Jordan came on to present a prize. And every woman went aaaah when titchy Frankie Dettori skipped on to give a prize to gigantic Martin Johnson, who won Sports Book of the Year for his autobiography. The beleaguered David Beckham won a special award for My Side. Strangely, he couldn't be with us in person but had sent a filmed acceptance speech instead, and everybody laughed cruelly when he thanked "my family". Richard Madeley went off-piste from the autocue to speculate whether Becks's favourite book could be Rebecca. Ooooh... And The Lovely Bones won the Best Read. Judy managed to conceal her annoyance and even gave Alice Sebold a warm hug.

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Lynne Truss bagged Book of the Year for Eats, Shoots & Leaves, her bestselling guide to punctuation. But I still don't get the point of the joke in her acceptance speech. Apparently, she told a cabbie she was on her way to give a lecture about punctuation, and he replied: "I'd better get you there on time, then." Hilarious! But after all, punctuality and punctuation are closley related, having the same Latin root, and punctuation is partly a matter of rhythm and timing. I was taught the ingenious rule of thumb that the difference between a comma and a semi-colon consists in the length of the pause you'd use if reading the sentence aloud. Maybe Mr Cabbie - another "outdoor servant" - wasn't so dumb after all.

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