THE GMG Awards Lunch is done for another year. Hurrah!
I shot these ballons at Cebu, in the Phillipines a while ago - they'd have done for the GMG Awards Lunch.
The talented and diligent organisers had picked a rather elegant shed, somewhere in the City whose cavernous superstructure was disguised with lots of white triangular bunting. Outside we were treated, not to a red carpet but to a giggle-stimulating walkway of neatly laid turf with an array of garden machinery on the side.
Once inside, there was a glass of pink fizz to accompany the gently developing crescendo of garden writers hallooing one-another across the primaeval swamp. Soon, with a mwah! mwah! here and a backslap there, we were shepherded into the feeding zone.
We had barely tucked into a cloying pumpkin and honey soup when there was a stentorian blast on the PA system followed by a deafening announcement to tell us that we were at the Garden Media Guild Awards Lunch. Useful items of information like this kept bursting into our conversation from time to time as the meal progressed. One was reminded of a big rally in a totalitarian state.
A threatening-looking pudding followed the custardy soup and turned out to be rather good, with craggy beef inside but alas, no kidney.
Dessert was delivered on strange, long, narrow strips of porcelain which resembled petrified open scrolls, and were served longways-on. I believe I recall that chocolate was involved. Oh, yes, now I remember - it was as sort of dusky bosooom from which oozed molten chocolate.
Then, Andy Mackindoodah-doodah-day arrived at the podium to give an accomplished and amusing speech, and to run through the lengthy award winning procedure. He did it all with amazing panache and professionalism. He reminds me of a slimmed down, Anglicised Mr Magoo.
Andy informed us that we garden media people are the very heart of horticulture. That surprised me, because I thought our sponsors and hosts yesterday - people like Westland, Thompson and Morgan, Hartley Botanic etc. were the 'very heart,' whereas I've always considered myself to be no more than a hack, commenting and reporting on what happens in the world of gardening. Horticulture could probably manage without us hacks, whereas we depend on horticulture to feed us the means of earning a living. Or have I got that wrong?
The awards procedure takes forever, with recipients having to grin at cameras, alongside the sponsors. Some make speeches of gratitude, others don't. Some awards were predictable, others not. Two were richly deserved and absolutely delighted me:
The Master at work.
The Best Photographic Portfolio was won by my good friend Tim Sandall. The deafening cheer, showed how strongly the crowd approved, too. Tim taught me most of what I know about photography and is one of the most versatile, workmanlike and accomplished craftsmen in the business.
For many years, when I worked for BBC Gardeners World magazine - oh, happy times! - he would spend several days a month, creating action pictures and building up the visual side of our various series. In those days, if ever I struggled with the technicalities of handling a camera, he would drip-feed his knowledge with amazing generosity, and with considerable modesty.
He is indefatigable, always jolly and, uniquely, able to combine utter professionalism with having a bloody good laugh. Well done Tim! What a guy!
The second award - and I will admit to a slight pang of jealousy, here. No, that's not sincere! I admit to quite a lot of jealousy – was the Best Blog. (More deafening applause, whistles and maidens fainting with bliss at the announcement.) James has done it again and is now to be referred to as Multiple Award Winning Journalist or MAWJ.
It was delightful to meet VP, at last, and to chat with her before the lunch. I was not at all surprised to see Veg Plotting on the shortlist and quite expected her to win. Silvertreedaze didn't even make it to the shortlist which I admit was rather a disappointment. But I'll try harder for next year and, well, you never know.
But James really is a worthy winner. Informative, funny, always original and interesting, it's a delight when his posts appear. It was he, I might remind you, who kicked me into the blogging habit, little more than a year ago.
Reading a JA-S's blog is rather like making love. First. you are gently aroused by the intriguing Edward Learish titles. Working through content then gives increasing pleasure but you always arrive at the end disappointingly soon, feeling limp and exhausted but relaxed and satisfied.
Well done James - but might you try not to enter next year, to give the rest of us a chance?
I'm listening to Gluck's Orfeo & Euridice. Poor old Orpheus' longing for his prize - er, sorry, girlfriend - seems to strike a bit of a chord, just now.
This day last year I attended the funeral of friend and craftsman Ron Gray.
This week's film was Casablanca watched with friends, on their magnificent megatelly. One of the biggest of the Hollywood greats. Afterwards, we enjoyed an absolutely superb Moroccan feast.