I was a guest at a luncheon last week to celebrate excellence in business journalism. It was a sumptuous affair at Summer Place and awards were handed out to those deemed worthy enough to receive one. Each winner took away a huge framed certificate with the logos of the sponsors prominently displayed. They were large enough to dominate any room. Unfortunately I left empty handed although I was all ready to go to the podium whenever they announced a new winner. It’s just that they called another name and not mine. I was wallowing in disappointment and nursing a glass of red wine when a fellow guest comforted me and pointed out that the reason I hadn’t won anything was that I am not a business journalist. Suddenly the sun broke through the clouds again and all was right with the world.
I have only once been called to a podium to collect a framed certificate for an article I had written for Style magazine on opera. The problem was that I was only getting a certificate as a finalist and not the first prize. So I took the framed certificate home that night and propped it up against the wall while I decided what to do with it.
The winners of the business excellence awards I attended really were real winners but I rather doubt that they will mount their trophies in their homes; particularly if they were multiple winners and went home with a bakkie load of trophies. Unless you are a serial awards winner and have a trophy room at home you probably aren’t going to mount an award for journalism on a wall that will be seen by your friends. It would look too much like bragging. I’m told that Sir Tim Rice keeps his Oscar statuette in the guest toilet of his London home.
My award for managing to make it into the final category would be even more embarrassing to mount, even on the wall of a guest toilet. It would be an open admission that this was the best I could manage. A consolation prize for not actually being a winner. People would snigger and talk behind my back if I did such a thing. So I took the certificate out of the rather fancy frame and chucked it away and then gave the frame to a friend as a birthday present.
But now I rather regret that decision because I haven’t won anything else in sixteen years of writing. Admittedly, I never bother to enter my work in things like the Mondi awards but it would still be nice to have something for the relatives to discover when they go through my personal effects after I snuff it. Something other than a poster announcing “Bullard sacked for writing a “racist” article” (although I am rather proud of that).
So I‘ve come up with a rather brilliant scheme. I have just started the David Bullard Award for the best column which is likely to become the coveted Oscar of the SA writing industry. This year it goes to Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne (pause for tears and long speeches) for her agony aunt column every Friday on Newstime. And the Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne Award for the column most likely to annoy Fred Khumalo goes to….you’ve guessed it. Now we need to buy a couple of frames.