When sitting down to write this piece, having greatly enjoyed the festivities of the UK Festival Awards the night before, I found myself to be, unfortunately and surprisingly, afflicted by a touch of writer’s block. This was worrying.
It had certainly been a difficult day at work, made that bit harder by the slight hangover felt as a result of the many delicious, complimentary glasses of Pimm’s I’d consumed at the previous evening’s awards. Perhaps this was the cause of the block. Maybe it was the Friends’ double bill that had just started on E4, which was distracting attention away from my writing. Or maybe it was the incessant banging of fireworks which was putting me off: the unused explosive remnants of the weekend that the local feral kids outside insisted on hurling at my window, lighting up Bethnal Green and transforming it into downtown Fallujah. Perhaps.
For whatever reason however, something had thus far failed to click. So in an effort to remedy this block, I referred back to the piece I wrote on last year’s awards. Perhaps I could get helpful tips from my previous self; perhaps my past-self would be able to kick-start my present self, Marty McFly style, into writing the account of this year’s awards. So I read the piece from a year ago.
Last Year’s Award
I read it twice. Then three times. Then a fourth time. The reason for this multiple reading was simple: in revisiting the account of last year’s awards, it occurred to me immediately how huge this year’s UK Festival Awards really were. It occurred to me how big in stature and credibility the awards had become. It amazed me how far the accolade, and the ceremony, had travelled, in just one year.
Just look at the new venue, for starters. Last year, the awards were held in the admirable Islington Carling Academy, a nice venue built toward the back of a shopping centre in north London. This year, the UK Festival Awards migrated a few minutes up the road to much grander surroundings: Camden’s Koko.
Previously The Camden Palace, Koko is Brixton Academy’s older (by twenty-nine years), but much sexier, sister. Walking into Koko’s main auditorium, greeted by multicoloured lighting, grandiose balconies and one helluva vista view tells you immediately that this award ceremony has arrived even before it has begun.
The scene is set: onstage are guitars, keyboards, and drum kits. The awards platform, from which the awards will be read and given, stands to the right of the stage. Hundreds of white-clothed tables have been placed in front of the stage, each with goodie-bags and empty ice buckets, soon to be filled, over and over. Last year, guests had to make do with propping up the bar. This year, it’s like the bloody Oscars. One can always tell how prestigious an award is by how well the guests are treated. Well, judging by the aforementioned complimentary Pimm’s, the goodie bags and the free nosh on offer, a knighthood and a Bafta just sneaks in front of these babies.