Thursday, 21 April 2011

In Someone Else's World

The email came hot on the heels of the Telegraph Justback competition win email - just a few hours later. It read:

'I am delighted to tell you that you are one of the three finalists for our BGTW/Traveller Travel Writing Competition for your piece: "A portrait of a city - Zurich Ghosts".
I am not able to tell you at this stage whether you have won first, second or third place - this will be announced at the BGTW Yearbook Launch at the London Transport Museum on Tuesday March 8 between 6.30pm and 9pm for which an invitation is attached and I do hope you'll be able to attend in person.
Perhaps you could let me know and meantime, many congratulations'.

At first I thought it was a joke. I never won anything - or at best the last prize (and therefore the rubbish prize that noone wants) in a raffle.
And now I had won two travel writing prizes in one evening.

I travelled down to London and met Tom, my husband, at Covent Garden. Strange to meet up in London 'san infants'. We enjoyed a meal together and made our way to the Transport Museum.
The venue was strange - all the great and the good of travel writing seemed to be there, crammed between ancient London trams, cabs and buses. The journalists were networking furiously as I stood there awkwardly with Tom, feeling I was trespassing on someone elses world.
A travel magazine accountant introduced himself, and a PR person from one of the ferry companies. No influential travel writers/editors for me then! Where was Simon Calder? I spotted the organiser of the competition, and introduced myself. I knew then, I hadn't won first prize as she seemed distracted - and was clearly still searching for the winner!

Still I had my five minutes of fame. I made my way to the podium to collect my prize (Two cityjet tickets) feeling slightly embarassed.
I spoke to the organisers afterwards who were sweetly complementary about my piece.
Second prize ain't bad - and I wasn't sure I wanted to go to writing school (A writing holiday was the first prize). Suddenly the thought of writing about my morning in a souk as soon as I had visited felt like too much pressure! Now I knew how the children felt in school.

So, we made our way home, goody bags in hand (I now have a proper black journalist's notebook for making notes when travelling!)

We stopped at my sister's house in Hitchin where I had left the car, had a quick cup of tea and left at 10pm, thinking we'd make it back to Matlock by midnight. (Big mistake to calculate when you'll get home). Just outside Hitchin the car lights failed. After waiting an hour in a grubby pub someone turned up to sort us out. At 12.15am, lights fixed,  we headed for the motorway - to find the sliproad closed. We had no choice but to travel south before travelling north. Then just outside Matlock, Tom drove over a large plastic container that jammed under the car. I had to get down on my hands and knees in the middle of the road, and pull with all my might to get it out.
Finally we crawled into our street just after 2.30am.

'Na ja', as the Germans say - all in a days work!

The thing is, I'm hooked now - I've just entered my third competition. Maybe my good luck will run out now.

Here's a link to the piece: