It was the big Critics Circle meeting tonight - the grand finale when the nominations are laid out and we vote for the winners. We give 8 awards a year - six within the realms of professional performing arts and two in the amateur sphere.
Critics follow their nominations through the selection process giving a "pitch" for their nominees prior to voting. Some of these pitches can be extensive - a review in itself. Because, believe it or not, critics are positive people. They love to see performers and productions succeed. There is nothing more miserable than writing a damning review. Believe me. It is a lonely job. Words are like blood. Writing a rave, on the other hand, is a high.
So the critics come keen to see their nominees succeed - because winning a Critics Circle Award gives a huge boost to the career of a performer/designer/writer/director/composer - not to mention the money and the hand-made silver trophy. There is nothing like being able to put "award-winning" before your name.
We gathered at a long table in our usual restaurant meeting place. Fine supporter that it is, it stays open to accommodate us and give us privacy - for these meetings have to be very secret. We don't want the word to get out early. We want the town to hum with gossip and anticipation.
There were lots of proxy votes from absent critics - and passionate speeches from those present as they fought for their nominees. There were a few snipes, of course. But only from one critic to another, perhaps reminding them that their opinion does not make a fact. There were a few dissents. But yet again, amazingly, the winners emerged to the general satisfaction of the group. If one does not mention the music critic who stalked out when his nomination lost by a whisker.
Every year I feel a pleasant buzz at the completion of this task. Of course there is still a lot of work to do. We have to rally the product sponsors for the wine and beer to be provided, write letters to all the nominees ensuring that they attend, check out the guest list, the invitations, a press release, follow up that the trophies will be ready in time, ensure the presenters are confirmed, organiser waiters for the ceremony, a sound system....get gifts for the presenters and sponsors...organise the updating of the website...thinking, thinking.
Oh well, I am sure it will be all right on the night.