Monday, 21 November 2016

But most of all I'd like to thank...

For American readers - the term 'Award Season' summons images of movie stars doing the Oscar catwalk in the sunshine.  We do have a London version  - featuring celebrities freezing in flimsy dresses huddling under umbrellas bringing the traffic to a halt.

But for us lesser mortals, award season means one thing.  As winter kicks off, a few weeks of identikit ceremonies often in the same hotel.  Time was when it was the greatest buzz - getting invited,  getting dressed up, dancing until the lights come up, comparing hangovers. But as time marches on and the boardroom marches closer, it become an annual fashion obstacle course. Particularly if you're a woman...

You're 25 and you're an up-and-coming Account Manager being invited for the first time. The only decision you've got to make is to follow your mother's advice - legs or boobs but never both. You book a blow dry in Oxford Street after work.  You tweet through the awards ceremony, your agency wins an award, you hit the dance floor and close the bar at 2am.  You move to a club and stay until 4 leaving the award behind on the dance floor. You wake up for just long enough to call in with 'food poisoning" (you're still naive enough to think people will believe you).

You're 35 and you're a Board Director and leading the account in line to pick up a major award.  Your major client is the guest of honour at your table. But in your head you're still 29 and it's a rare night off from childcare.  You sneak a prosecco at the office before you leave. You risk bare legs after a major dose of St Tropez in the shower.  You team them with a sequinned skirt and your best heels.  You drink more than you meant to - thank God for Uber - and wake up after two hours sleep with your toddler jumping on your head and cat poo on the landing. You load up on espressos and head in on the train falling asleep on the shoulder of a stranger next to you. The caffeine gets you through a day of emails until you give in and do your Waitrose order.

You're 45 and you're the CEO.  Your agency is short-listed for UK agency of the year so you have no excuse not to go.  Your urge to win only just wins out on your desire to have a quiet dinner somewhere nice with your rarely seen husband.

Can you do 'desk to dinner'? Not for a black tie event.  It just doesn't work.  Nice earrings and a pair of heels won't cut it.  You'll look like you can't be bothered.  Should you wear a cocktail dress or a long dress? Can you get away with a tuxedo? In your mind you're channeling YSL but the mirror doesn't lie.

Peering through horrible lighting in the office loo, you realise you've left your favourite make up item at home and your hairspray threatens to set off the office fire alarm.  Arriving  at one of London's finest hotels (OK, The Grosvenor House again - it's London's largest ballroom) you
do the bag shuffle.  Do you leave your computer/Ipad/spare shoes/make-up in a bag in the cloakroom while you carry your tiny clutch into the ballroom? Of course you do. And you spend all evening worrying that someone will walk off with your laptop and post your confidential emails on Facebook.

A quick trip to the ladies to check your lipstick before you venture into the fray.  You're met with wall -to-wall glamorous 20-somethings who are wearing tiny dresses, towering heels and no tights.  Nothing is guaranteed to make you feel more like the mother of the bride.

You spot your guests at the drinks reception and gratefully cross the bar to find a glass of champagne.  You check to see what table you're on.  If it's too close to the back you're not important or you haven't coughed up enough sponsorship money.

Then the awards themselves.  In the last ten years these have expanded exponentially.  It is a an amazing money-tree as each category charges for entrance and also gets sponsored.  So they multiply with abandon.   You sneak a look at the list of entries and can't believe your eyes.  You mentally calculate what time it will end and wonder if you will catch the last train.  If you win, your entire table will erupt with hysterical arm waving, cheering and rush up on stage.  If you lose you can guarantee it will be the time you've brought the client the campaign was for . #Awkward.

To while away the long evening, everyone drinks. I hadn't realised how much until I went to one awards dinner  when I was pregnant  and by half way through the evening the only person sober enough to talk to was the waiter.

You're 55 and you're the Chairman.  You can gracefully turn down the invitation.

You're a man and you take your dinner jacket to office hoping you remembered to get it dry-cleaned last time you wore it.  At 6.30 you change your shirt, get dressed and splash on some aftershave. Repeat for next 25 years.






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