Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Londoners Diary

To the Orange Broadband Prize For Fiction ceremony in the ballroom of the Festival Hall. I've no idea why I was invited. On the rare occasions I've expressed any view on this it's been to question whether we still need a fiction prize for women novelists. On the basis of the remarks from the stage it's precisely this kind of male observation that is most valued by the organisers because it helps keep the siege mentality at simmering point. Anyway, the occasion was notable for:
  • the man from Orange making the best judged sponsors speech I've heard in a while
  • the main prize going to the estimable Rose Tremain
  • the candidates for Best New Writer being described as "three great women who've written great books"
  • the sun arrowing over the Thames as I crossed Hungerford Bridge on one of those evenings that make you think "dull would he be who could pass by" etc etc
  • The rapture on the faces of the cloakroom staff as they watched the paparazzi shoot frame after frame of token showbiz person Geri Haliwell


  1. Anonymous10:58 pm

    You're right. It's bollocks to give a prize to just women novelists. Let them stand on their own two feet.

    A far larger percentage of women read novels than men - so maybe we should instead have a men-only book prize.

    And if anyone reads that and is thinking 'What a ridiculous idea' then how is it different to have a female-only one?

    As Roger Scruton once said,'Oh, thanks for reminding me. Criticising Women is Sexism. Criticising Men is Sociology.'

    Time to take off the training wheels. You've had your head-start. Sink or swim on your merits like the rest of us.

  2. Anonymous11:19 pm

    A quick trip round Google reveals a Black Writers Award, A Black and Asian Writers Award, a Muslim Writers Award, a Scottish Writers Award, a Welsh Writers Award, the Lambada Award for Gay and Lesbian Writers, I could go on. Relax Paul, writers likes to win prizes, sponsors like to sponsor them, punters like to choose them from the baffling miasma in front of them at Smith's. Gay, Muslim, female, who the hell cares? It won an award, it might shift product. These things make the world go round, it's not a war. And anyway the most interesting thing about the blog is the name of the thing: the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction. You could not make it up.

  3. Anonymous1:00 am

    Hello Phil

    I think the point about Muslim, Gay etc awards is surely that they're awarded on the basis that certain minority groups have a particular cultural viewpoint/story to tell, and the fiction can somehow represent this.

    And I guess you can have a regional award (Best Scottish writer etc) as a way of gauging and encouraging the talent in a particular geographical area and again, subculture.

    I don't think women are in the same category. It's just a hang over from Political Correctness.

    And justifying something on the basis that it 'shifts product' is not an argument I have much sympathy for personally.

    Surely, there should be some solid criteria as the foundation for an award to start with.

    If, as a by-product of that, it happens to coincide with the interests of marketing or public taste, fine.

    But that's no basis on which to make the decision in the first place.

  4. Anonymous1:44 pm

    On an unrelated topic ...

    Has anyone seen the Cadbury's tv ad for their new chocolate bar, Twisted?

    Is this perhaps the most unwittingly obscene advert ever broadcast?

    If you haven't seen it, I won't bore you with a long description, but basically it's a creme egg which melts and then gets resurected as some sort of 'Twisted' monster chocolate bar with lots of horror movie thunder & lightning sound effects.

    Fair enough. But what happens next is that the bar rears up and attacks!

    The problem is, this part of the ad looks exactly like ...

    (look away now children and delicate Victorian ladies ...)

    ... an angry spitting cock!

    Sorry but there's really no polite way of saying that. Well, there is, but it wouldn't have the shock effect I felt when watching the actual advert.

    It really is like watching the money shot in a porn movie.

    What sort of idiots do they have making these things?

    It reminded me of the sort of thing the current crop of Apprentice candidates might produce.

    Is it just me, having admittedly spent my youth watching way too much porn - or is this quite unpleasant to watch?

    Shame really - 'cause I love creme eggs.

    Anyone have any thoughts?

  5. Do you mean this one?

  6. Anonymous2:46 pm

    Yes, that's the one.

    Didn't realise it was already on youtube. It's encouraging to see I'm not the only one who finds it quite unpleasant.

  7. Last time I looked mine didn't have ridges on it though.

    Paul, you should probably see a doctor.

  8. Anonymous5:15 pm

    I am a doctor