Thursday night I relinquished my title as holder of the Richard Imison Award for best first radio play, passing the notional torch to Steve Coombes, whose play MrSex, about Alfred Kinsey, seemed like a worthy winner. I only say 'seemed' because I'm hopeless at listening to drama on the radio, whatwith my inability to read listings ahead of time, my attention deficit and the volume on my computer speakers being too low. The gong was given at the Royal Commonwealth Club, and I went along with Janet W who produced my play that won last year, All Of You On The Good Earth, and she was also one of the judges for the other prize, the Peter Tinniswood Award, won by a monologue play, Norman, written by Mike Stott and performed by Johnny Vegas.
I enjoyed the beano much more than last year's. Then, the Imison was tagged on at the end of the Society of Authors prizegiving at the Barbican, so there were oceans of writers (inc Mr and Mrs Zadie Smith but I FAILED to spot her, he was visible 'cos he got a gong) but it seemed I was the only dramatist there, and I drank too much from nerves, so going up to collect my envelope from Anthony Beevor and Lynne Truss was a bit of an ordeal, even tho' not many people there were that interested in the Imison, save the judges who were all terrifically nice to me, especially the novelist Philippa Gregory whom I cut off in mid sentence to stagger up on stage when my name was called. The shame. Also regret railing against BBC Radio's conservatism in regards to adult content in drama, not for my acceptance speech you understand, which would have been bad, but to the head of drama on Radio 3, Abigail Appleton, which was worse. So the best part of the evening was the dinner after with Janet, Fiona who was in the play, and her husband, actor Kenneth C.
But this year was utterly different, everyone there was connected to the plays on the shortlists, or was otherly engaged in the radio drama world. I met some very interesting and clever people, and some of them were even writers - Alan Plater, Nell Leyshon (novelist, previous Imison winner, and reader of this thing, she revealed - so hello Nell), Christopher William Hill, Steve Coombes.
The food was lovely, I stuck with the apple juice, and had a fine old time. Then Peter Kavanagh, who'd produced all three plays on the Imison shortlist and so was feeling decidedly chipper, rounded a gaggle of us up and marched us to the Groucho Club. I'd not met PK before, but by the end of the evening felt thoroughly fond, such is his easy affability and charm. Had one or two glasses of wine, kicked around one or two ideas, took one or three email addresses, then it was time to go.
Morning after, I reflected on how I seemed to be quite respected in the radio drama village, and how this feeling contrasted with my abiding frustration at not getting any commissions this year. Hey ho.