Don Paterson: So I didn't win 25 grand. But I did see Jenny Agutter...

Diary
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The Independent Online

The poet and musician is pipped to the Whitbread Prize

Whitbread Awards on Tuesday. It was more fun last year, when I wasn't on the shortlist and met Honor Blackman in the toilets. Good celeb rubbernecking, though. Ian Hislop, cool ... David Mellor, ugh ... that guy off Newsround ... Jenny Agutter! Paddy McAloon had a deep understanding of her place in the groin of my generation, and once had Jenny do a cruel wee voiceover on a Prefab Sprout song where she says, "I want to have you" over and over - knowing it would bring us all to our knees again with the same unworthy, filthy desire as we had experienced upon our first short-trousered encounter with Walkabout or Equus. Anyway, Joan Bakewell stands up, says something, and I don't win. Hell - I'm having a nice night, and after all it's only an awful, awful lot of money. I try hating Mark Haddon, but he's such a lovely guy there's no mileage in it. Besides, I won a bet that I wouldn't go up to Ralph Fiennes and say, "Hey man - really dug you in Shakespeare in Love." Sign his books sheepishly and gratefully. The man's a god, incidentally, even close up. End up the drunk schmuck in the too-tight DJ as usual, and get mistaken for a bouncer by standing still for three seconds outside the hotel.

Both appalled and oddly moved at the BBC's excessively honourable reaction to the Hutton report. Having thrown these hyenas Gavyn Davies, Greg Dyke should have known that the vast popular support remains with the BBC, promised to tidy up procedure a little, and left it at that. I remain naively confused in a number of matters, but principally: a) that we're supposed to buy a situation where Blair selects a referee who goes on to, er, fully exonerate him (did it not occur to him to ask Hutton to make one tiny criticism of the Government for the sake of verisimilitude?), and b) the conclusion that journos must now prove every claim beyond the reliability of the source, while any old rehashed, doctored, made-up or tarted-up crap can be put in a government dossier.

Hey! Who needs 25k and a proper democracy. I just got a good phone call. The Paragon Ensemble are the cool chamber group in Scotland, posting up a weird combination of instruments every couple of months and inviting submissions to write for them. I can only assume December's teaser of bass clarinet, flute and cello put nearly everyone else off, and they had no option but to stick my horrible wee bagatelle in the programme - Where Is the Rest of My Horse?, a frankly great title I stole from the poet John Stammers. They're playing it at the Tron in Glasgow tomorrow night, and I don't care who knows.

Blair's gloating: I've seen nothing as sickening in its obliviously self-satisfied egoism since Mandelson was re-elected at Hartlepool. The only plus in this gruesome spectacle is that the Hutton report will allow him to retire more quickly, with his head held high over this one tiny, meaningless, almost scholastic quibble - and put the small matter of his international terrorism (this is now an uncontroversial definition of his action, and shows why you should never fight a war on "intelligence" alone, any more than you should execute a man on a hearsay) and his part in 10,000 civilian deaths behind him. Or is it 8,000? Or 15,000? No one is counting, as usual. As Chomsky points out, we know the American casualties in Vietnam down to the last man, but we don't know the Vietnamese to the nearest million. Either way, Brown - having saved Blair's arse in the top-up fee vote - will be filling his shoes by April. Brown! Hammer of Bush! Champion of Palestine! Saviour of the Environment! Friend of the Poor! Ho ho ho. At least the monstrous Blunkett will be led off somewhere less dangerous to make shuffle-room for one of the turncoats Brown purchased on Tuesday. It's the little things.

Don Paterson's latest volume of poetry is 'Landing Light' (Faber)

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