So I promised to let you know the deal.
It was weird.
Basically Foyles opened its room for the event, at the top with glass walls overlooking the bookshop. It opened at 7.30 and was just a room with no seats and a table with wine and a table with the shortlisted books.
I had gone solo as you know and after work was a bit tired on my feet, but I jumped in.
Sadly most people had come in quite large groups and it was hard to jump in as a stranger and make conversation without looking like a strange loner. I took the option of propping myself up next to a pillar with a glass of wine. I talked briefly with a guy who worked in publishing of sci-fi. I wanted to talk with him more because one day I hope to write my own fantasy/sci fi novel, but it didn't last long.
Luckily an older man saw my plight and took pity on me. We chatted for a good hour and it turned out he was a huge fan of collecting first editions. He told me how he'd ordered signed first editions of all of Ian M. Banks work just before he died and was surprised he ever received them. I gathered they were the prize of his collection.
The event itself did not start until around 9.15 so we waited a long time. It then consisted of a couple of people giving speeches including the head of the award and Adrian Tchaikovsky and then it ended and the host told us we could all stay for more drinks until Foyles shut us down. I said my goodbyes and got off, still a bit surprised at the event as a whole.
It's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't expect the sort of atmosphere there was. People seemed like they wanted to be seen to be in with a group of authors/publishers and I get the feeling that some of the authors were letting the attention get to their heads a little. Maybe I am naive to thing it would be otherwise, but strange nonetheless.
It was an experience, but not one I'm not likely to seek to repeat.