Doesn’t time fly, readers? It seems only a year ago that I posted from the Orange Prize. That’s because it was a year ago. The introductory speeches were panicstrickenly gabbled, almost as if a broadcast media person had said to Kate Mosse “Just get through it, poppet. People know roughly what has to be said so just hurtle it. Nobody cares.” Rose Tremain got the big one so justice was done. Then back to the Taittinger. Expensive enough but starts to pall after glass five. The canapés at the do are stacked dinkily on plinths on curious little constructions comprising four clear plastic rectangles, the size of what we used to call ‘LP covers’, held apart by small inverted shot glasses placed at each corner. Yeah? The finger foods are placed on each level and you have to slip your hand between the levels to get one.
Well, I spotted a lone finger item on level three of a nearby stack and decided to get it. The item (something to do with salmon on a dot of toast) was placed to the far side of the level and, evidently, had proved too inaccessible to bother with. Unabashed, I extended my arm towards the plastic tower. Within millimetres of sliding my hand in, palm downwards, I realised that the sleeve of my jacket would catch the LP cover and dislodge it, Jenga style. It became clear to me that I must turn my hand over and go in upside down, palm upwards. Any reader who has reached for a canapé in this way will know the problem. I extended my index and second fingers, in a V shape, and pushed them at the toast dot. Soon I had trapped it and could withdraw my hand. Around me beautiful women milled, probably talking of chapters and plots. As my hand broke free I realised that the canapé was the right way up but my hand wasn’t. How could I get it into my mouth without inverting it and thereby tipping the smoked morsel onto the Queen Elizabeth Hall carpetting? (My other hand was holding the Taittinger, obviously.)
I decided to twist my wrist round towards my mouth rather than rotate it around its axis. This is an unusual movement, rarely called for in the average day. The canapé, however, was not held by the tips of my fingers but by their sides, down in the V, for safety.
Imagine my surprise when, as the dot drew nearer to my outstretched mouth, I stuck my fingers up my nose. Well, I said to myself, at least the hand is stabilised thereby. I extended my tongue, as if an okapi, and tried to pull the dainty delicacy in. After a few moments of ungainly manoeuvring I had the bastard. Quite pleasant, if not as amusing to the mouth as the one with yellow paste and bits of grass sticking out.