Tuesday, 14 May 2013

in it to win it

I almost forgot to blog.  We are going to the Mercury later, and I need to do my back exercises, so there is not much time left for blogging.  The reason why I forgot is that I was tapping away at the keyboard all afternoon, doing something else.

The Garden Museum is running a Festival of Garden Literature at the end of June, at Tom Stuart Smith's garden, and as part of the festival they are running a garden writing competition for a memoir.  I am not at all sure what constitutes a memoir.  Sir Peter Smithers talked a bit about his life, and a lot about plants, but he had more than 2.500 words to play with, so I have done the same thing but on a necessarily more miniature scale.  I am not sure whether the memoir is supposed to be set entirely in the same garden, or whether a series of different gardens is permissible under the rules of the competition.  Unless you are Christopher Lloyd or Adam Nicholson (one of the judges) most people's lives span more than one garden, and mine certainly does.

Anyway, I started my essay a couple of weeks ago when the weather was foul, and then it perked up so I switched to gardening, and then I realised that the closing date for entries was the end of the month so I'd better get my skates on.  It took all afternoon to finish, and I forgot all about the blog.

I probably won't win, but if I don't enter I definitely won't.  And I do know one person who won a competition, for travel writing.  His essay is now available on Amazon, and I have read it, and it is pretty good, but I thought I could do as well.  When I was twelve, to the extent that I had any ideas about careers at all, which on the whole I hadn't, I probably wanted to be Bernard Levin.  Having your own column in the Times was not presented as a career option by my school or my family, and I thought it must be something that other people did, people with extra abilities and the right connections.  When I was in my first year at Oxford the girl in the next door room had a friend who was also reading English, who is now a novelist.  Not a novelist on track to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but well enough established that publishers bother to quote nice things he has said about other younger novelist's books on their covers.  He was a very pleasant man, quiet and gentle and unostentatiously gay at a time when being out was more of a statement than it is now, but he was not a super-human.  So on the basis of having met a normal person who won a competition, and another normal person who became a professional author, I am entering.  Somebody has to win.  It could be me.

It probably won't be, but if I do I will tell you.  So if I don't mention it again, you'll know that I haven't.  No need to ask.

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