Last month I picked up the award for the Arnold Bennett prize. This is an annual event run jointly by The Arnold Bennett Society and The Sentinel our local newspaper. Established in 2017, the prize is open to any writer living in north Staffordshire, or writing about the area.
It was a lovely evening early in June and in spite of being hampered by a broken wrist, I dressed as elegantly as I could and was driven to the North Staffs Medical Centre for the award ceremony which was to be followed by dinner.
Although I knew only one or two people there, I was made very welcome and was enjoying a glass of prosecco when the time came for the announcement of the winner.
There were five books short listed and as there is no restriction as to genre they ranged from crime and thrillers, to non-fiction and a children’s picture book.
As Dr Catherine Burgass, the vice chair of the society began her speech, my stomach did flutter and I crossed those fingers that still worked properly.
Please, I thought, let the best book win.
And it did.
“Winter Downs” by Jan Edwards was awarded the Arnold Bennet Prize for 2018.
Shaking with excitement, I could hardly hold my phone, let alone make the call the Cyprus, where the author was on holiday. Which was why I was at the award ceremony, drinking bubbly wine, eating a delicious dinner and thoroughly enjoying myself.
As I walked home, carrying a bag of goodies for Jan, I reflected that there are advantages to picking up an award for which you have not entered. The first being there was no tension as apart from that one moment when the envelope was about to be opened, I wasn’t nervous, nor was there any chance of what must be a dreadful feeling of rejection and disappointment for the others on the short list. In fact the whole evening was perfectly delightful.
Perhaps that is the way to do it and if ever I am in the running for an award I’ll skip the nerve wracking bit and get someone to deputise for me, or perhaps not…