It would seem that whenever more than two people come together in some common endeavour, however vaguely defined, they like to take time out each year to award themselves prizes.

Corporations like to boast of the prizes they have received, though usually without explaining anything whatsoever about the process by which the recipient of an award was determined.  I strongly suspect the principle of “Buggins turn” applies in many cases.  Still, it probably has the desired effect of motivating the troops – given the human propensity to extract pattern and meaning from even random data – and may even shift a little extra “product” (though not to me).

I think it is only the Arts (defined fairly broadly) who imagine that the general public might consider their annual prize giving newsworthy and indeed would actually watch the ceremony and care about the results.  I must admit that the Oscars, BAFTAs, Grammys et al do very little for me.  They are selected on an arcane basis, but which seems to link somehow to the genre and the Y-chromosome and skin-based melanin content of the participants.  Often a nomination, or worse yet a prize, will put me off viewing, listening to or reading a piece of work.

There have been exceptions: way back in my mid-20s I read the Nobel Prize winning The Grapes of Wrath by John Seinbeck and thought it quite excellent (though rather short on laughs), despite a deep and abiding hatred of John Steinbeck inculcated in me through being forced to read his work at school.  To this day, it remains unclear which of us had changed in the intervening decade: I like to think that my teenage disapproval caused JS to retrospectively up his game.

In the last month, I read the Booker long-listed (and other prize winning) book The Sellout by Paul Beattie.  This book is utterly brilliant and a properly funny (if savage) satire.  I have only two complaints about it: (1) that it has ran out of pages far too soon and (2) that the descriptions of the hero’s fruit left me drooling.

I guess the lesson here is that awards committees cannot be relied upon to be wrong at all times.  By wrong, of course, I mean not in agreement with the polymath, paragon and all-round good egg that is the author.

And so finally we have navigated the post round to its true subject which is, of course, me (well, isn’t it always?).  I had a very pleasant evening with friends yesterday, starting with dinner at Enoteca and then off to see Papillon peform at the Art House.  The music was excellent and I spent considerable time (a) studying and (b) being astounded by the guitar playing skills of Nic Rizzi.  My own axe-wielding has a long way to go, but I did learn something useful about barre chords by watching him in action.

However, it was during the earlier meal that one of my friends granted me perhaps the greatest accolade of my glittering and much-lauded life.  Yes, ladies and gentemen, I am CONVENIENT!  Other folk might wish to be thought witty, attractive or debonair (please add your own adjective of complimentary desire) but I know my level and if there is one thing I can guarantee in my friendship offering it is my convenience.

So, if anyone out there is looking for a convenient friend for nights out and perhaps more (I realise my whole plan to start and blog a relationship is not moving forward with particularly great dispatch) you know who to call¹.

¹Hint: the answer to this question isn’t always Ghostbusters.


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