EDitorial ± 3-Jul-2012

Spiegeltent Stories

Ip-art 2012 and all's gone to plan. Short story competition (previously) has returned with a theme of RECOVER. Zero inspiration until a last minute idea surfaced on the day before entries were due in. Started my piece on Sun pm and finished it Monday, early hours thereof. Reformatted it in daylight and handed it in. FF a few weeks and an email pops in. I've been shortlisted and I'm invited to an event on Fri 29th June at which the winner will be announced. Double yay.

That Friday arrives and my mum, whose entry has again been sadly overlooked, accompanies me to Christchurch Park inside the spiffing Spiegeltent. Before the announcement will be a literary chat with two Booker shortlisted lady authors: Sarah Hall, the story judge, and MJ Hyland. Apologies, says Georgina Wroe, local radio presenter (and novelist), but Sarah Hall can't make it due to illness. No problem. So it's a solo show with MJH instead who is open, risque and highly entertaining. During the interval, outside in the evening sun, we exchange a few words while she's having a cheeky ciggy.

Back inside and here it comes. MJH reads some notes prepared by Sarah Hall. Blah blah high standard blah blah record number of entries blah blah. Runner up is "funny, poignant, well observed". Congrats to ... Ed Broom! I'll take that. Up to shake hands, collect my book token, and sit back down. Happy. Winner is "frighteningly suggestive". Congrats to Ric Hardacre. Applause but nobody gets up. Except me. Er, he can't be here tonight, I say. He's stuck in Colchester in a toxic gas incident. This I have learned from Twitter in the last hour. No matter. Georgina reads his entry anyway. After which I'm invited back to read mine.

Up again, this time seated at a microphone, and I'm aware that (a) my mum is in the audience and (b) she's not seen my story. I mention both points before starting: "Mum's not with us anymore..."

There follow various awkwardly staged photos with me, the local judges, the lady mayor (bling), MJH (who says some very kind words) and, of course, my mum. Lesson: turning up is half the battle.