Sunday, 6 December 2015
The SWWJ Christmas Tea... and Meeting Sir Tim Rice
Many of you will know that it's been a difficult time for me recently with two bereavements in the space of just a few days. I made the decision not to update my blog last week and retreated from social media for a while (sorry if yours was one of the blogs I didn't comment on) but there was one shining event to brighten up my week - the SWWJ Christmas Celebration.
You might think I'm looking rather pleased with myself in the photograph and that's because I never in a million years thought I'd have double billing with Sir Tim Rice of 'Joseph' and 'Evita' fame. I even have the programme to prove it. Okay, so my name is slightly smaller than his but I won't hold that against him.
So why was it that at 2.20 pm on a Thursday afternoon I was standing at a lectern, speaking into a microphone to a roomful of writers? It's not as if public speaking is something I do a lot. Being a typical writer, I don't particularly like being in the spotlight and, as a former teacher, I'm more comfortable speaking to a classroom full of children. The answer is, I was presenting the prizes for the John Walter Salver short story competition which I adjudicated. Sir Tim was there because he is one of the society's patrons.
That I was even at this lovely event was due to fellow magazine writer Vivien Brown (Hampshire) as it was she who asked me to be the competition judge. What an honour. It was a pleasure to read everyone's stories when the entries were sent to me and it was nice to have the chance to meet the winners. First prize winner, Carloline Aukland, is in the photograph above.
The event took place in a beautiful room at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall Place, London. It was a very grand venue - finding the cloakroom in the maze of corridors was an event in itself!
I was quite relieved that I would be reading my judge's report and presenting the prizes at the start of the afternoon which left me no time to get nervous.
After a lovely introduction by Viv (thank you for making me sound so important!) it was time for me to take my place at the lectern. Luckily, once I'd started speaking, it wasn't nearly as nerve wracking as I'd imagined it would be - it's amazing what can be achieved when you picture your audience as a class of seven year olds! It was also nice that a few of my RNA writing friends had come to the tea to support me. I was thrilled when it turned out that one of them, Margaret Mounsdon, was the third place winner (she'd kept it quiet that she was a member and an entrant). Here I am presenting Margaret with her prize. People were so lovely and said such nice things afterwards - I'll certainly feel more confident if I have to do something like this again.
The presentation was followed by a delicious tea with sandwiches, cakes and scones. I'd been a little worried about what I might talk to Sir Tim about as I was slightly star-struck (in junior school I was in a school production of Joseph and since that time, have seen every one of his musicals except Chess) but I needn't have worried as he was warm and friendly, praising my short story success and 'meteoric rise' in the market. Gulp! I only just managed to stop myself from blurting out, 'You've done pretty well yourself'. If you're reading this, Sir Tim, I'd like to thank you for making me feel so at ease - I hope I didn't bore you too much with stories of my children!
After the tea, there was the chance to talk to some of the other guests and then it was time for Sir Tim's speech. Amongst other things, I found out that he started his career wanting to be a pop singer and that his favourite out of his songs is 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall'. It was a great speech to bring the lovely celebrations to an end.
Wouldn't it be lovely if next time I speak to an audience it's to introduce my debut novel. Well, you know what Sir Tim Rice would say... Any Dream Will Do!
Sorry, everyone - I just couldn't resist it :)
If any of you are thinking of joining the SWWJ, their website is here