OK, there were (by my estimation) at least 700 other people in the room but on Thursday night I spent a good hour in the company of Tess Daly who was compering the 2010 SLTN (Scottish Licensed Trade News) Awards.
I'm not entirely sure why the SLTN would invite an English TV personality to host their awards (was Jackie Bird unavailable?) but Tess worked hard to control a crowd that was well oiled by the time she came on stage. Publicans on a night out are unlikely to be teetotal and Diageo - among others - made sure that they weren't.
The Billy Connolly style comedian from Canada (who lives in Devon) did particularly well. I am told that two years ago the after dinner entertainment was booed off stage. That was never going to happen this time. He went down a storm.
Anyway, back to Tess who had the difficult job of following a loud sweary comedian by hosting the presentation of no fewer than 22 awards including Community Pub of the Year, Barperson of the Year and, er, Mixologist of the Year.
Our table, like many others, was interested in one award only. In our case it was the award for Best Smoking Facilities sponsored by Imperial Tobacco. I had a special interest in this because I was actually invited to spend two days in Scotland in August judging the nominees. Unfortunately I was on holiday at the time so I couldn't enjoy what would have been the longest pub crawl of my life.
Anyway the chosen finalists were The Secret Garden at Hawke and Hunter (Edinburgh), The Three Sisters (Edinburgh) and The Victoria Inn (Carronshore, near Falkirk) and by a remarkable irony the winner was The Secret Garden in Edinburgh.
I say irony because you may remember that I visited The Secret Garden last year and raved about it HERE. We subsequently booked it for a private event to mark the launch of Brian Monteith's book The Bully State but had to cancel when the venue changed its smoking policy under pressure from the council. See HERE.
I am told that the problem was subsequently resolved (albeit by removing the overhead panels that sheltered customers from the rain) so if you're in Edinburgh on a reasonably fine day check it out. Ditto The Three Sisters and Tigerlilly, a venue whose smoking area matches the best that even Dublin has to offer (or so I am told).