Melissa Nathan Award

June 19, 2008

Good things about the evening. An excellent tapas bar opposite the nightclub where the award ceremony took place at 62 Kingly Street (behind Regent Street). I had stuffed deep-fried courgette flowers.

Jo Brand, the presenter, was excellent, very funny and relaxed and professional. Melissa Nathan’s husband, Andrew Saffran, gave a speech and was also funny, polished and immensely likeable. Her son, a dear little thing, probably about five years old, thanked us all for coming to his mother’s party. I’ve no doubt that at that moment every woman in the room felt tears rise and perhaps some men did too. Joanna Trollope was elegant and charming. She kindly gave me an award for the most loveable rogue. Lisa Jewell won the big prize for 31 Dream Street. I never read contemporary fiction for fear of being influenced/ depressed by other people’s brilliance so I can’t say anything about any of the novels on the short list. Excerpts from some of them were read out and I got the impression I wasn’t quite in the right genre but probably everyone in the world feels this about their paintings/ concertos /  blown-glass animals. 

Not so good things; Two of the writers on the shortlist got no mention at all the entire evening. Considering they bothered to get dressed and turn up, wasn’t this perhaps a little discourteous? My chief grumble is nothing to do with the award really but the requirement for noise. The Studio Valbonne is not particularly large but everyone used microphones, the volume was head-splitting and at one point a man sang romantic songs so loudly I thought I was going to pass out. In addition we had coloured lights flashing all evening as though we were little children. This is not just grumpy middle age. When I went to Annabel’s and Sybilla’s in my late teens and early twenties I was reduced to crying into my drink at the feelings of loneliness and angst induced by the din and atmospheric lighting which failed to convince me that we were having a wonderful time. When you think how quiet the world must have been a mere two hundred years ago, no cars, no planes, no amplification, no television, just the rattle of carriages and the clopping of horses and birdsong …well, yes, there would have been the screams of the mob at public executions so I’m romanticising a bit … 



Turning Over A New Leaf

June 18, 2008

All right, so I’m on the shortlist of the most hopeless bloggers in the history of blogging, not having written anything since May 2007 but my excuse is that the installation was faulty and I got so enraged trying to publish my entries that I gave up in disgust. The installer says it is now working properly. We shall see. A fresh start. And not all about gardening. I’ve given my word.

Um, er … the thing is, gardening is the perfect antedote to writing and to the credit crunch, Iraq war, and so on but of course it’s a dead bore to many people. Well for once I’ve got something else to write about. Today I’m going to London for the Melissa Nathan Award ceremony for which Girls’ Guide to Kissing Frogs has been shortlisted. Melissa Nathan was a very successful writier of comedy romances…how I LOATHE these categories marketing people have to have …and, very sadly, she died at the age of 37. Her husband has set up this award to commemorate her.  The judges are Jo Brand, Alan Davies, Joanna Trollope, Sophie Kinsella, Jessica Hynes and Gaynor Allen.

I was once shortlisted for the Romantic Novel Award. After a rather disgusting lunch the guest speaker who shall be nameless (a red-haired actress who also makes cakes) began her speech by saying that she NEVER read romantic novels and went on to talk solidly for twenty minutes about herself and her own career. The chairman of the panel of judges, Derek Parker, said that the quality of the entries had been poor and gave us tips on how to improve our writing. We sat smiling stiffly while scorn was heaped on our heads. What’s more, to add injury to insult I didn’t win.

I don’t expect to win tonight. But I hope they will be generous to us poor old dears, trying to earn an honest crust in our own foolish, misguided way. I shall tell all tomorrow