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 … 



One Response to “Melissa Nathan Award”

  1. A number of things to comment on, first I’m so pleased to hear someone else complaining about the noise levels. I was in Liberty’s last year and complained three times about the music, so loud that I couldn’t converse with my sister about what we wanted to buy, needless to say we left without buying anything. Also I live in Germany so all english and american films and series are dubbed here and so the sound is always perfect. It leaves me completely bewildered when visiting england and watching tv there at how little I understand. Does everyone mumble nowadays? Am I stuck in a time warp expecting BBC english? Oh dear. Anyway, moving on… yes two hundred years ago, impossible to imagine, the silence. What a wonderful thought.
    By the way, from one hen lover to another, I just painted some hens for my sister Gillian, you can see them on my homepage.
    Great news about the new book I can’t wait, it’s been a long time.

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