Once upon a time there was a young lad in a junior school. He didn't really like writing, his spelling was bad, punctuation dodgy and handwriting illegible. The subject matter set by the teachers didn't help and the bullying by them to get the technicalities correct further turned him away from doing nearly any writing at all. Teachers queried dyslexia and his parents blamed laziness.
Moving to secondary school helped as the subjects became more interesting, but the damage was done. Writing remained difficult and at the age of 25 this young man had little more than a few "O" levels and part of an ONC. Luckily, by the beginning of the 1990's computers started to become affordable. Spellcheckers fixed many things and writing became legible once some form of touch typing was mastered. A reasonable string of qualifications ensued and a career in engineering with the nuclear industry enhanced. However, writing method statements, risk assessments and maintenance manuals are marginally less interesting than writing a telephone directory. Time for a career change. This by now not-so-young man bought a pub. What else?
And so there becomes a reason to write, about the frustrations of trying to turn a dream into a reality, about how it is not as easy to run a pub as some seem to think and of course about something more special than anything that might have gone before in this persons life, about beer. This blog was thus born.
Now I will mix up the third to first person, surely I can be excused that, and perhaps the reader can understand the delight when I found that the person described above was awarded a prize for his writing. On Thursday night, when Zak Avery described my blog, before finally saying my name, I could not be more pleased. In the same competition that many great beer writers before have gained accolades I become one of them; I am runner up in the New Media category.
It seems difficult not to be self indulgent after what I see as a personal achievement greater than nearly anything I have done before. It will take a while to sink in properly no doubt, as before the British Guild of Beer Writers dinner I had tried my very hardest to convince myself not to be disappointed if I won nothing. I was kidding myself, of course I'd be disappointed. Afterwards, an incredible sense of anticlimax and tiredness enveloped me as the pent up emotions finally able to be released.
It remains for me to thank a few people; It's the done thing. A few bloggers that are key to inspiration must be listed; Jeff Bell AKA stonch must surely be the first, it was his blog that gave me the idea to write something meaningful and it was great last night to be in his very busy pub with other bloggers. Next thanks goes to Jeff Pickthall who's sceptical outlook can provide great tempering for my crazy ideas but more importantly his encouragement is invaluable. Tandleman deserves a big mention as his blog often sparks post subjects and the discussions that follow, which he often engages in, can be far more important than the original piece.
The twin to this blog, Pencil and Spoon, gained Mark Dredge the title of the best new media writer. Well done to Mark, I genuinely believe he deserves that and I look forward to many years of further writings. Equally, I don't think anybody, except perhaps the man himself, believed that Pete Brown would not get Beer Writer of the Year.
I have to end with a final bit of sentimentality towards the two most important women in my life. First of course is Ann for encouraging and proof reading this blog and moreover putting up with me being grumpy when the words just don't work, or because I have to leave my writing as something in the pub becomes more important. The second sadly has not survived to see this day, but I am certain that my mother would have had tremendous pride knowing her son finally did get around to writing something useful after all. I might have driven her insane by not doing my homework, sorry Mum, but I hope it was all worth it in the end. I'm glad at least you knew there was untapped potential there and all it needed was to find a passion and anything was possible.