The cast seems to change every year, but the Booker Prize for Excellence 2001 at the Park Lane Hilton was the usual glittering affair. Instead of Stuart Rose (Malcolm Walker didn't even hang around long enough to make one appearance) Bill Grimsey was in charge this year, and managed to shake off his flu long enough to make an animated presentation. And just to show how much things have changed, on the judging panel was my old colleague Andrew Pring, who definitely isn't on the Christmas card list of several former Booker execs. It was his article in The Grocer which rang alarm bells in the City and predicted Booker's collapse. Meanwhile, our deputy editor was a bit bemused to turn up at New Zealand House in London on May Day to find it surrounded by burly policemen. He was there to learn more about exports of Hoki. Surely the anti capitalist demonstraters could have nothing against New Zealand's white fish? All was soon revealed. His contacts in the New Zealand Trade Development Board ­ for it was they who organised a major PR event on the same day as potential riots ­ explained that NZ House was home to the World Bank. And those global capitalists, the Hinduja Brothers. Oh dear. But as the chardonnay flowed, everybody forgot that the building had been surrounded by a group of scruffy oiks. Everybody that is, except for the guest speaker from the Marine Stewardship Council who did not even show, having earlier bottled out of the event. {{COUNTERPOINT }}