The Costas…

I have a couple of friends who have occasionally remarked on my (very vague) resemblance to Hermione Norris, she of Spooks and Cold Feet fame. Last night, at the Costa Book Awards, I actually became Ms Norris, or at least her substitute, when she had to cancel an appearance there at the last minute, and Jenny Colgan and I were shunted onto her table.

This, dear reader, meant that the two lovely guests to my left got not some kick-ass blonde actress with a great line in counter-espionage, but a slightly tipsy novelist who they had probably never heard of. Sadly for them, and luckily for me, as those men were Patrick Dempsey, md of Whitbread (the Costa sponsors) and David Morrissey, star of Blackpool and the Dr Who Christmas Special.

They did their best to hide their disappointment. My friend nda fellow novelist Jenny Colgan, meanwhile, did her best to keep quiet the fact that in her handbag was her key fob, complete with miniature Tardis…

There is a certain breed of male actor who induces something I can only call a female wobble, where members of the opposite sex go a little slack jawed and stupid in their presence. George Clooney, according to Jenny, allows “an extra 20 IQ points for women on first meeting”, just because he understands the effect he has on them. I can report at close hand, having watched a few autograph hunters around him, that the very charming Mr Morrissey is one of these men.

One male novelist (I’ll spare his blushes) told me that a couple of years ago he had been introduced to Clare Grogan, the object of his teenage lust. This was a meeting he had dreamt of for years – but as she said hello, he found himself firmly in the “nggghhhh” conversational category.

I don’t believe I had any slack-jawed moments last night, but if I did, it wasn’t me sitting there on table 25 last night, Mr Morrissey, it was Hermione Norris. Honest.

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