Getting on down with the glitzy people at the UK Blog Awards…

WELL, now I know what all those Hollywood actors feel when they have to keep smiling after they don’t win an Oscar.

I promised in my last post to report back on the finals of the UK Blog Awards, so here goes. This big and glitzy affair was held deep in a grand basement of the Westminster Park Plaza hotel, a palace of shininess that sits on the southern side of Westminster Bridge.

Two floors down you went on stairs surrounded by reflective surfaces. Once in the basement a bewildering array of people bumped around while busy staff offered glasses of fizz and assorted nibbles. In one corner the main sponsor, Odeon, had set up a mini-cinema with free popcorn.

There was a Roald Dahl theme to the evening, although I never was quite sure why. Something to do with telling stories would be my best guess. Anyway, an elegant man on stilts stood in for the BFG, striding monumentally among the smartly dressed throng. Almost all of them seemed younger and perhaps more glamorous than Mr and Mrs Ledge.

An extravagantly bearded man with a ponytail blew bubbles and, at one point, encased volunteers in a giant bubble sheath that shimmered and then popped.

There was loud chatter and music; more to drink and more to nibble. We circulated and found another couple of a similar age and chatted to them for a while. Pictures were taken on mobile phones, standing next to a shimmering wall or beneath the branches of a rather fetching fake tree.

“This is all a bit glitzy for me,” our temporary new friend said. He’d once won an award at the northern blogging awards which had been more up his cobbled street.

After a while doors opened to a seated area with a wide stage at the far end. And that, after various introductions from the sponsors, was where we stayed as the many nominations were rolled out and the winners announced. Man On Ledge was mentioned twice but honoured not at all. I can’t pretend this wasn’t a disappointment but never mind.

It was fun and bewildering. We met various people and mingled as best we could. Sitting to my left during the ceremony was a woman nominated in one of my two categories. “We’re rivals,” she said, teasing. “I shouldn’t be talking to you.”

When she didn’t win she left midway through the ceremony. I stayed to the end because it was only polite. Oh, and because I was nominated in the main category which came last. So I had a long wait to learn of my double disappointment.

But it was a happy night and I thoroughly enjoyed being there. I might have thoroughly enjoyed it even more if I’d won something, but that’s life and awards for you. Going along for the ride was an honour.

Many of the blogs were as different as could be from my efforts. To be honest, I never was sure how to choose a category. For some incomprehensible reason there wasn’t one for Middle-aged Bloke Who Wrote A Column For 25 Years And Now Writes A Blog Instead. If there had been, I might have won that.

Finalists could stay at the Park Plaza but the special offer was beyond our reach. So we booked a Premier Inn for half the price, calculating that it was close enough. In the event it was only the length of a red carpet away, so that was fortunate.

We left at coming up to 11.30pm and from the hotel foyer you could see Westminster Bridge stretching to the Houses of Parliament and London looked impossibly glamorous. The next day after a long but lovely walk to the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, we had to push through an almost impenetrable human throng to return across that bridge. London seemed less glamorous then; sweaty and rammed more like.

But we enjoyed our stay with a trip to Tate Modern too, walking along the South Bank, an old stomping ground, in a sleet storm and returning in the sunshine, with a pint of Youngs on the way.

Yesterday was sunny and warm. The rain waited until we were walking home from the bus stop. It poured then.

As for blogging, I shall keep up with my efforts at least until fully paid employment drags me away from this little strip of rock. An awful lot of people do this blogging lark, as I now know. A whole community of laptop tappers who sit in their pyjamas (me today, I confess) and try to make sense of whichever bit of the world they focus on.

My perspective is wide I guess; a bit of this and thattery. It seems to work for me.

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