Sunday, December 10, 2006

Signing off

First off can I thank everybody who entered into the spirit of things and made The Blog of the Year Awards such fun. Your witty Comments meant that the blog has ended the year on a high note. Indeed, over the course of the past year you've all given me a lot of pleasure and made the effort well worthwhile.

From Monday I'm going to be travelling pretty solidly on a mixture of business and pleasure. I'll be spending Christmas and New Year in New Zealand with my eldest son and his wife and then doing some more travelling. I know from experience that I can only blog when I get into a rhythm and not when I'm hanging around airports and the like, so I'm not even going to try. I'll be back in the UK in mid-January and will start blogging again as soon as I get back.

I'm going to miss you all - every single one of you. I'll still be visiting blogs and - when I get the chance - leaving the odd Comment or two.

So, for the time being, I'd just like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Three Bloggeteers


Friday, December 08, 2006

Literary Blog of the Year Awards Ceremony

[It's that time of the year again. I've tidied up the Pundy House, set out the seats, swept the basement where the Comments hang out (where did all these tissues come from?) and now I'm standing here at the podium in front of an expectant and excited invited audience waiting for the ceremony to begin. Out of the corner of my eye I can see the director of the BBC camera crew counting down the seconds before the I launch into my speech. ]

I am nervous, standing here surveying the various tables of blogging glitterati, no question about it. My mouth is dry. All those bloody camera phones flashing in my eyes. The deafening clink of champagne glasses. The rustle of prepared speeches being nervously fondled. Need a drink of water. Think back to last night. They took it well about the absence of prizes. Well, some of them did. I didn't realise they were such a competitive bunch. Hope they don't turn ugly when the awards are announced. Well, some of them are ugly already...Oh, oh, here we go...

Director: Ready everybody. Action!!! Roll!!!

Pundy: Ladies and gentlemen, and daddy, it gives me great pleaure to welcome you to the Pundy House Literary Blog of the Year Awards.

Minx (loudly): Yippeee!!!!

Pundy: I've always been intrigued by the power of ideas. Great ideas grow and take on a life of their own. Ideas grow into ideals which in turn grow into idealisms. Marxism, Thatcherism, Christianity, Nazism, and now, Pundyism. They all started as simple ideas. Wars have been fought over ideas, countless millions persecuted and killed as a result. Let's hope my idea for a blog award doesn't have the same consequences Ha. Ha..

(The now-silent crowd look puzzled).

Skint: (throwing a bread roll): Get on with it! Who won, you wordy Scottish git?

Pundy: Er, who won? Good question. Well, in a sense you all did. I mean, you know it was just a joke, don't you? Just a bit of fun?

Debi (between gritted teeth): Better not have been. I spent a fortune on this dress. As anyone can see.

Pundy: What I mean is, the awards idea was really just my way of saying thank you for all the pleasure, and indeed enlightenment, I have experienced from visiting my fellow bloggers on a daily basis over the past year. Watching this community of like-minded writers grow together, so selfless and kind-hearted..oh...

(There is a small commotion as Daddy slumps forward in his seat, his face ending up in his lobster bisque, an empty bottle of Bollinger clasped in his right fist).

Pundy: ...a place where virtue truly is its own reward...

JTA (loud whisper): What the fuck is he on about now?

Pundy: My fervent hope that the Awards will promote harmony and understanding amongst my fellow bloggers...

Maxine: Good God! I do believe the fellow's a hippy.

Pundy (struggling to make himself heard against the rising rumble of discontent): Okay, okay, without more ado, here they are. First off, Commenters of the Year.

JTA (standing and surveying the room with his clenched fist held aloft in triumph): That's me! That's me, plebs!

Pundy: Er, not quite, JTA. This year there's three of you. I decided I couldn't separate you. So the Commenters of the Year are, firstly, Daddy.

(Daddy is snoring loudly into his soup, bubbles of lobster bisque foaming round the end of his nose),

Pundy: And JTA

(Polite but muted applause)

Pundy: And finally the indefatigable Minx, without whom I would have given up long ago...

Sand Storm: I wish you bloody had. This is interminable. When do they serve the main course?

(The Minx leaps to her feet and runs around the room hooting and hollering like a mad thing accompanied by thunderous applause).

Pundy (when the tumult finally dies down several minutes later): As I said earlier, everyone is a winner, so if you've been nominated that's because I really do believe your blog is something special. However, in the end there can only be one OVERALL WINNER...

(A fight has broken out. The cameras pan round to capture the action. John Baker and the Publishing Contrarian are on their feet, their noses almost touching as they argue furiously over who has the keenest sense of humour. Maxine yawns. This sort of behaviour really is beyond the pale).

Debra (standing up): Where's the bloody lavatory in this place? I need to see the lavatory!

(Another commotion as Shameless faints from lack of oxygen, having had his nose stuck down Amy's cleavage for the last twenty minutes. Carla grabs a waiter by the testicles and demands another glass of champagne. Madame Arcati sits in a corner scribbling furiously into her notebook gathering material for tomorrow's blog. Susan sits alone at her table reading poetry and reflecting on the beauty of the evening.).

Pundy: And the Literary Blogger of the Year is...ouch!

(Pundy falls in a heap, rendered unconscious by a stale bread role thrown by Skint Writer.)

Beau Blue: I'm outa here, this place is a fucking nuthouse.

(A shower of bread rolls descends on the stage, pummelling Pundy's almost lifeless body. A siren is heard in the distance. The camera crew swivel round furiously in a vain attempt to film the Minx who is swinging from chandelier to chandelier as she continues to celebrate her earlier award.)

The lights dim as the ambulance crew charge into the banqueting hall, weaving expertly through the mass of brawling bloggers.

The Pundy House Literary Blog of the Year Awards are over for another year.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Glittering Prizes

Last night, while sipping on some 80 year old Bowmore whisky and puffing on a 100 dollar Cuban cigar, I found myself ruminating on the nature of prizes and competitions in general.

It seems to me that Competitions exist on a spectrum that ranges from the worthiest to the tawdry. From the Nobel Prize at the apex, which generally attempts to celebrate mankind's highest achievements, right down to newspaper competitions like Spot the Ball which reward nothing but the grubby desire for monetary gain without the application of any kind of skill or effort whatsoever.

Part of the problem I think is financial. There is no doubt in my mind that the introduction of money - or equivalents such as holidays, diamonds, trophies, vouchers, trinkets and bawbles - totally devalues the prestige and value of a competition that aspires to celebrate the highest achievements of Mankind.

Which brings me to the Pundy House Literary Blog of the Year Awards. Where do they sit on the spectrum? Let me say unequivocally that I see the Awards as nudging the Nobel Prize in terms of prestige and respectability. And so it was that last night, after a second whisky, I determined that at all costs I would not taint the ideals and purity of the Pundy House Literary Blog of the Year Awards with the introduction of generous monetary prizes as I had originally planned to do. I am sure you agree with me that this has to be the correct decision. We do not want our competition tainted by Mammon. We dare not run that risk - it wouldn't be fair on the winners.

Instead, the real rewards of the Competition will lie in the genuine pleasure and unstinting admiration that the winners will receive from their peers, those unfortunate and less talented losers who have not quite cut the mustard.

As Henry James once said, our maxim must be "Be generous, be delicate, and always pursue the prize".

Pass the whisky, someone.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Two Big Things

There are two big things happening in the literary world this week. By far the most important is the London launch of the novel Coven of One by Kate Bousfield. Kate, of course, is better known to readers of this blog as The Inner Minx. The event takes place at The Bookseller Crow on the Hill on December 9th at 6.30pm. More details on the Minx's blog.

The book launch will be followed by a Blogmeet attended by the creme de la creme of the literary blogging fraternity, including Skint Writer and Debi Alper. A number of other published writers will be in attendance. So it's a chance to meet your blogging idols in person. Be there or be square, as they used to say.

The other thing that's happening this week, on Friday in fact, is the announcement of the Pundy House Literary Blog of the Year Awards. Nominations are still open, so if you know of a blog you like which isn't listed below, feel free to nominate it.

The list, as you'll quickly discover, is completely idiosyncratic and based solely upon blogs that I actually read, and enjoy, regularly. If I'm missing out on some cracking literary blogs - as I surely am - let me know and I'll give them the once over before the nominations close.

Here are the nominations so far:

1. All-Round Literary Blogs:
a) A-listers: Grumpy Old Bookman, Paperback Writer, Bookninja, POD-dy Mouth.
b) Other great all-rounders: Sand Storm, Writing Passions, Carla Nayland, Deblog.

2. Best Writerly Literary Blog: John Baker.

3. Most Informative Literary Blog: Petrona, Books Inq.

4. Most Controversial Literary Blog: The Publishing Contrarian (no other nominations required in this category - you won't have a chance following Lynne's last two posts).

5. Most Original Literary Blog: An Innocent A-Blog

6. Best by a Published Writer: The Inner Minx, Skint Writer, So you want to be a writer.

7. Best by an (as yet) Unpublished Writer: Shameless Words

8. Best Newcomer: Buddhastic, Confuscious he say

9. Wittiest Literary Blog: Bookfraud, Madame Arcati, Julia Buckley

10 Best Campaigning Literary Blog: Debi Alper (Trafficking of human beings)

11 Best Literary Blog located in Aberdeenshire, Scotland: none reached required standard.

I'm not going to name the Commenter of the year at this stage. However, I do have someone in mind and it appears that his particular talent involves manipulating photographic images. Hm. My quandary revolves around whether or not bad behaviour should be rewarded. I'm still thinking about it and may yet change my mind.

The best way to contact me if you want to see the list revised is to drop me an e-mail. When I get time I'll add a few more names to the list, so if you don't see yourself on it yet - you're stuck on tenterhooks for a few more days.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Imposing democracy

In a perfect world the Pundy House would be a democracy but sadly in these troubled times it is necessary for the maintence of civilised society to rule my domain much more like the Vatican, with me as the supreme pontiff at the centre, infallible and directly in touch with a superior being (my wife), leading you (the sinners) ultimately to a form of salvation.

There are many good reasons for this form of governance.

Mainly, of course, because I KNOW BEST. You may argue that this is a dictatorship. You are wrong. And even if you are right, it is a benign one, and therefore nothing for you to worry about. There is, for example, virtually no censorship. As long as you mostly agree with me you are free to say whatever I wish. Comments are rarely moderated. In addition, women are accorded equal status here too, insofar as they are equal. Religion is tolerated. What more could anyone, other than a disaffected dissident, possibly want? Be content with your lot.

In order to maintain this happy state, therefore, any attempts by an outside agency to impose democracy on this blog will be strenuously resisted.

Following the announcement of the Blog of the Year Awards a number of my subjects have asked how they get to vote in the various categories. The answer is, you don't. You may, if you wish, nominate blogs which you believe are especially praiseworthy and I may subsequently check out these bogs. Or I may not.

You will understand that, in the interests of the efficient working of the nation state, it is sufficient that I alone select the winners in the various categories. Needless to say, there is no appeal from my decision.

As a sop to my loyal subjects, this year I intend to introduce an additional category:

Commenter of the Year

This award will be determined by the number, and tone, of the Comments each entrant has made on this blog in the past year. Negative Comments will necessarily lose points in the final assessment but this in no way affects your rights to freedom of speech. It is just something you should, if you have any sense, bear in mind.

On the vexed subject of the Dress Code for the Awards Ceremony I would simply make two points:

1 Have you actually got an invitation?
2 The Emperor has no clothes - why should you?