The short list for the Green Carnation Prize has been revealed and garnered, again, no publicity from either the broadsheets or the trade press. What are they waiting for? The short list, a mix of debut novels and those more established writers, reflect the tastes of the judges and is as follows
Paperboy – Christopher Fowler (Bantam Books)
God Says No – James Hannaham (McSweeneys)
London Triptych – Jonathan Kemp (Myriad Editions)
Children of the Sun – Max Schaefer (Granta)
Man’s World – Rupert Smith (Arcadia Books)
All of us founder judges will be involved with next year's prize, for which we will hopefully have a sponsor. Will that make the meeja sit up and take notice? The winner will be announced on December 1st.
Last week I went to speak at The Write Place in Dartford where I baffled a crowd of aspiring writers with my in depth knowledge of publishing. Well, I told them a bit about how it happened for me, anyway. You would think, wouldn't you, that a train journey to somewhere only 45 minutes away by car would be easy. No. Two hours it took. How did two of my poor children commute there to college for two years each? Bless them. Anyway, thank you to Elaine Everest and Francesca for the bottle of wine, and Michael for the lift to and from the station.
Finally, I went to The Playhouse Whitstable last night with son Miles and daughter-in-law-elect Clare to see the great Arthur Smith supported, ably, by John Maloney, who made me cry with laughter. But however funny these gentlemen were, the high spot of the evening for me was when Arthur sang his traditional "Arthur (Simon) Smith and his amazing dancing bear" finishing song, and through the curtains came THE BLUE BEAR! This means nothing to anyone not connected to the theatre and pantomime, so I shall explain. Many years ago, A full size blue bear costume was given to the Playhouse and stored in the wardrobe. (Wardrobe, in this case, being a store, not a cupboard.) I was directing Babes inthe Wood, and inspiration struck. We would have the traditional ghost chase scene - but use the Blue Bear instead! And so we did. Stage manager Iris Manning donned the costume and the blue bear became a hit. I then used it in many more pantomimes and it suffered many indignities. It has been retired for many years now, so it was delightful to see it appear last night - and in such an illustrious presence! So thank you Pete Smith (no relation) for rescuing it and allowing its head to fall on yours. Much appreciated.