Well I didn’t win the award. It was won by Shadow Forest by Mat Haig, which I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read. But I will. It was a very well organised and rewarding event, and it was extremely enjoyable meeting the other authors.
There were just a couple of flies in the ointment. The first was the hotel which was really pretty grim. There’s a tv programme in the UK called The Hotel Inspector in which a successful hotelier goes along to failing hotels and tries to turn them round. This place ought to be next on her list in my opinion.
That was down to the local council who funded the event. The other problem was entirely my mistake. I haven’t had anything alcoholic to drink for at least eighteen months. But when I was having dinner with two of the other authors someone said, ‘Shall we have a bottle of wine?’ and I thought, ‘Why not? It is a bloody award ceremony, after all.’
I only had two glasses but the next morning I felt like Tutankhammen – very, very old, utterly desiccated and with a shocking headache. It was as if I’d never learnt to drink alcohol at all, as if I was about sixteen and starting all over again on cheap cider.
Since that was no way to start a day of delivering inspiring talks to enthusiastic children and dedicated librarians, I had to resort to more biochemical intervention. First I tried paracetamol but that had absolutely no effect. So there was only one thing for it – caffeine. For a brief instant I flirted with the idea of coffee but I knew that would have been madness. It took me so long to get off it in the first place, I couldn’t go through that again.
So it had to be tea. I had about four cups one after the other. And what a difference it made. I felt like I had amphetamine sulphate rushing through my veins. Soon I was ready to talk to anyone about anything. I was enthusiastic, I was excited, I was caffienated.
Now it’s much later and I’m back home after spending a lot of hours on trains. It’s not even nine thirty and I’m dying to go to bed but I know I won’t be able to sleep. That’s drugs, for you I suppose. When you’re an old man you just can’t cope with them. From tomorrow it’s back to clean living.