Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
Triple brandies all round. You know I don't often do this sort of thing. But yesterday, two months after following my commissioning editor's suggestion to submit for the EDF/ East of England Media Awards, held in a large hotel on the Essex/ Hertfordshire border, I found myself being presented with the gong for Columnist of the Year. It was a triple whammy because our photographer, Alex Fairfull got the photographer gong and our editor in chief Terry Hunt then collected the Best Daily Paper award for our own East Anglian Daily Times..
This was not some self-created awards ceremony. The people there were mostly hardened TV working news journalists, editors, producers and photgraphers, all of whom had been judged by a gimlet eyed panel in our capital city. To get an award is great. I think. Though, I don't know because to date I haven't had that many. To get one from your fellow professionals is just the best. The competition was stiff too. There were some really impressive entries. Our photographer commented on this.
For me to go to into this large conference hall in an international hotel had initially been like trying to get a dog into a bath. Several people needed to gently persuade me that it might be a good idea. I'm glad I did it. And you don't know how you're going to react when this sort of thing happens. You think.you'll be cool, witty, diffident. When my name was called out, I was actually like a rabbit caught in headlights. No amount of previous stage experience can prepare you for such a thing. Good job there wasn't a microphone near me, because I;d definitely have done a Gwyneth. I went up onstage in a kind of daze, had my snap taken and went back to my table mouthing the words: "F***** Hell!" followed by "Wow!" Then I sat there, completely numb for twenty minutes..
A weird twist of fate: While rooting around in a cupboard, before Christmas, I found a 25 year -old forgotten diary there from 1985. In it at the time are entries about my life as a broke 31 year old musician. A record deal cancelled and a part time washing-up job.All of this against a domestic backdrop of a large run down house during very cold winter. I was physically run-down too. I see from another entry that I'd made an appointment with a doctor. Things have to be bad for me to go that far. Having been published for the first time in The Guardian six months earlier, I was desperately entering writing competitions, and writing letters to various people, asking for work. On Saturday 9th of March, I see I'd written letters to The Guardian, Channel 4 the BBC and The East Anglian Daily Times suggesting ideas, and with the latter, asking if they'd be interested in a small regular column about my region. Ten days later on March 19th, I received a rejection letter from them. Times weren't good. About 23 years later on, they changed their minds and took me on as columnist. That's the thing about us country folk, we can take a while to think about things. Funny old game, innit? Yaaay!
An emotional Ms. Paltrow accepts her award