Parties: Sorry, we're fully booked

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The Independent Online

The red-carpet entrance to London's plush Grosvenor House Hotel was lined with paparazzi in polyester suits last Wednesday week; this might have been the British Book Awards, but it looked more like a movie premiere. Appropriately enough, Madonna's squeeze (oh, and film director) Guy Ritchie cycled past, looking back over his shoulder at the gathering before nearly crashing into a taxi.

The assembled talent was worth the gawping – those to trip down the carpet included Strictly Come Dancing star Alesha Dixon, comedian Alan Carr and the BBC's Andrew Marr. But the snappers were predictably drooling over Katie Price, big news in the book world for her bestselling autobiography. She didn't disappoint, suitably semi-attired in a very low-cut, shimmering mermaid dress.

Inside, champagne and chocolate cocktails, a nod to the evening's sponsor, Galaxy, awaited guests at the reception. As Kate Adie flitted around, Marr was soon in furrowed-brow conversation with Jonathan Dimbleby, until comedian Rory McGrath muscled in to lighten the tone.

While the novelist Robert Harris pondered aloud what Katie Price being a star of the show said about the literary world, award presenter Barry Humphries was too busy taking the opportunity to put his arm around the glamour model to care.

He soon had to stop, though, when guests were called to a finger-food supper of satays, mini quiches and éclairs, as celebs including Richard Attenborough and Geri Halliwell took to the stage to present awards.

JK Rowling, who had arrived a touch late in a stunning imperial-purple dress, received an outstanding achievement award with grace. Her glory was brief, however, as she was clearly struggling in her strappy dress, and looked as though she might suffer a wardrobe malfunction any moment. At least she upstaged Katie Price.

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