Fine dining and whining …

I’ve no qualms admitting that I spent the past half hour fighting with The Orwell Prize website to see if I’d been longlisted. I haven’t. I’m taking it well but Chaplin is pacing the floor shaking his head at his flatmate having been cast aside in favour of Toby Young.

I will take solace in the fact that I was once shortlisted. It was for features in some regional journalism awards. I’d written about posing naked for an artist and, by sharing my humiliation, was awarded a roast chicken dinner at a table covered in a white tablecloth and wine stains. There were also a few gravy spills up my end because I’ve never had great table manners: to this day I wonder if that’s why I was a runner-up.

My first editor – the one who spiked splashes for fun and reduced grown hacks to tears – once told me “those who do, do – others win awards” and I scratched my head wondering what on Earth he was on about. Turns out my colleague had won an NCTJ award and he predicted envy. I predicted being plus-one at a posh dinner celebration and my prediction was accurate. My table manners, unimproved.

Now I’ll have to treat myself to another posh dinner in celebration of my attempt because at least I can temporarily afford to. I have enough work, I think, to sustain me for about four months and then I will either find myself with more work – after chasing commissions and teaching jobs – or find myself back in the Job Centre having my confidence kicked out of me.

For now, I will dine  – I will dine like a rich Tory with a policy idea for Cameron. It’s nice to be able to go into restaurants again. I’ve visited three in the past few weeks and I even ate in two of them.

I also popped into a Waitrose for the first time – that is how flush I have felt! – and was both thrilled at the range of dinners for one and angered that some people shop in these places all the time. They’ve no idea of those who schlep to cheap shops only to be told they don’t eat well because they’re stupid not because they’re poor.

Anyway, I’m now going to have a self-pity snack. I promise I’ll also sort Chaplin out with some posh cat food … because otherwise he’ll bear a grudge.

Chaplin literally just ran in with a mouse. I will interpret this as a kind gesture, an attempt to contribute to my self-pity snack …

Well done to Benefit Scrounging Scum for being longlisted. Good luck.


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