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Censorship at the Nibbies

There was a poignant moment at last week's British Book Awards, the publishing world's Oscars - more prosaically nicknamed the Nibbies. The Bookseller's Award for Services to Bookselling was presented in absentia to Dick Francis, whose thank-you speech was beamed in from the Caribbean, and collected on his behalf by son Felix and his editor Jenny Dearham. Francis senior praised Michael Joseph and the efforts of his editors there, Susan Watt and the aforementioned Dearham. Ironically, Watt and MJ parted company only the previous week, a year after her demotion following a restructuring. Dearham noted fondly how a new Dick was a September fixture and how much she enjoyed working with him. It is assumed that the new regime maintains her merely to keep Francis happy.

The life of a novelist

As Julie Burchill returns to purdah to complete work on both a new novel, Married Alive, and her "extended elegy" on Princess Diana, comes news that her former husband, one Tony Parsons, is also at work on a novel. Man and Boy has been bought by HarperCollins for what's described as "a very substantial sum". Its subject? A successful television presenter whose marriage ends and who has to give up work in order to bring up his four-year-old son. Sort of art imitating life, I suppose.

Patten the pen-pusher

Fat Pang, otherwise known as former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten is, so the story goes, hard at work on his memoirs, East and West, to be published later this year by HarperCollins. Last week, the company held a dinner party for him at the Savoy Hotel, in order that he could glad-hand the book trade. I only hope he doesn't dally too long in the writing. As he told the assembled company, only the other day he'd been in a cab when the driver had turned round and remarked "I know your face. Didn't you used to be on telly?"