Last Tuesday saw me heading down to London for The London Magazine Short Story Prize-giving Ceremony. I had this to say as my train left Grantham station:
Seriously, I think it was the first time since I got married.
The event was held in the Terrace Pavillion of the House of Commons and as you can imagine, the recent attack on Westminster Bridge added a sombre note to the occasion.
Though the streets around Westminster were bustling as usual, with life in large part going on as normal, floral tributes covered the bridge, the green spaces opposite the House of Commons and the railings of the Palace itself, serving as a reminder both of the tragic and terrible events of March 22nd and the sympathy, compassion and perseverance that has characterised the country’s response. The speeches at the prize-giving also gave further time for reflection on the bravery of PC Keith Palmer and the lives lost and damaged by the terrible actions of one disturbed individual.
The prize-giving itself was a surreal occasion, not least because of its venue. Moving through security reminiscent of an airport check-in, only to find myself in the stunning entrance way to the Commons with its vast stone work and intricate vaulted roof felt very much like travelling in time. Heading to the terrace, moving through spaces I’d only previously seen on TV only helped emphasis the strangeness of being there. I know my dad would have been as amused as I was at the idea of this Black Country boy attending the Palace of Westminster by invite.
It was lovely to meet my fellow prize-winners, Emma Hughes and Anne O’Brien, great to catch up with Amanda Oosthuizen, a fellow shortlistee and alumni of the excellent Unthology, and a pleasure to meet the editorial team behind The London Magazine. Big thanks to Peter too, who kindly emailed me some of his photos of the event. Oh and the view of the Thames from the terrace was a cracker.
Our three winning stories will be appearing in the pages of The London Magazine over the next few months. I am reliably informed that my own, ‘The Ideal Husband Exhibition’, will appear in the June/July edition of London’s oldest literary magazine and I very much look forward to reading the other prize-winning stories later this year. Here’s hoping we see the rest of the shortlisted tales presented on the website too. More quality short fiction in the world is always a good thing.