Now that the effects of the champagne have worn off, I’ll do my best to remember the highlights of this week’s Melissa Nathan Award ceremony.
The company: my favourite publisher – Lyn of Choc Lit.
The venue: Café de Paris, off Leicester Square. Actually, once we got inside, it could have been anywhere – it was pretty dark! But what we could see was very fetching (as far as I can remember).
The goodie bag, complete with lovely MNA logo: a copy of one of the shortlisted books (fortunately not mine), Love Heart sweets (my favourite in the absence of chocolate) and a few flyers, including the latest Honeypot newsletter (Honeypot received this year’s charity cheque from the Melissa Nathan Foundation) and the Story of Choc Lit (wonder where that came from?).
The judges and shortlisted authors: Lyn and I spoke to them all briefly. Next to some of them – no names, no pack drill – I felt about 150 years old and a size 48! I particularly remember chatting to Joanna Trollope and Gaynor Allen about Newcastle.
The entertainment: Jo Brand – compère – and Paul Hamilton – performance poet – had us in stitches. Then we were treated to a spot of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ as Sophie Kinsella played piano and her husband Henry sang. A Gershwin song, with lyrics adapted to reflect current political reality, was followed by a rendition of ‘These Foolish Things’. Two lines stood out for me – ‘Miss Emma Woodhouse thinks she’s high and mighty, When all she really wants is Mr Knightley’!
The award: all of us – not just the winner – were presented with a glass trophy inscribed with our name and book title. A very tasteful memento. And congratulations to the winner – Farahad Zama with The Marriage Bureau for Rich People! This has prompted headlines such as ‘Man beats all-female competition’ (guardian.co.uk, 11th June) – when he was actually a very polite, peaceable sort of man!
The catering: the place was awash with champagne and, as Harriet Smith would say in The Importance of Being Emma, ‘canopies’. Of course, it was so dark I didn’t know what I was eating (well, that’s my story), but I remember sampling the teeniest weeniest little burgers in buns. Sign of the credit crunch or this year’s posh nosh?
The irresistible hero: dressed in a white suit, setting female hearts a flutter with his cheeky grin, displaying the poise of someone 20 years older – it had to be 6-year-old Sam Nathan Saffron!
The last to leave (almost): yours truly and most of the Ed Victor Agency – Maggie, Sophie, Rebecca, Edina and (cue voiceover) Amy from Rhode Island!