Well, I got there in the end. I sent in my competition entry with a day to spare. Now what I can’t do is post that entry here because it is a competition for unpublished work, so if I showed you I’d then have to kill you, which might get complicated. Not least because I doubt I’d be very good at killing someone; a combination of effort, mess and guilt would do it for me. What I suppose I can say is that the piece was for a Sunday Times competition in honour of AA Gill and which is designed to lure out aspiring writers: specifically food writers who have never been published. I’m not a food writer but I can spell lots of different types of food and I eat pretty much every day, so so far so good.
But even then I didn’t realise quite how hard I would find it, especially since I had 5 weeks to get my shit together. Eventually I decided that I would write a critique of MasterChef, because I think it’s become really crap (or just more crap, discuss), and so soaked up as many episodes as possible but all that did was convince me that it has become so enormously crap that it’s not worth writing about anymore. And I, as you know, quite relish the idea of writing about crap. Or is it just crap writing I relish? Anyway, my tall friend from work was wrong; MasterChef is worse than ever, and that really is an accomplishment.
So I was getting desperate. I had 3 unfinished pieces and assorted bits, all laying into John Torode’s big, grumpy, Muppet face, and walking slowly towards a camera to dramatic music, and the overabundance of the word ‘jus’, and bemoaning the fact that one of this year’s contestants real world job was being a ‘love psychologist’ (note – this is not a job, certainly no more of one than, say, microwave ballet dancer or fridge pedicurist). The last attempt was so desperate that I had reverted to my comfort zone of listing 10 things that make MasterChef a waste of electricity. And it was OK-ish, but clearly not good enough for the competition and not even for onstupidity.com, which is why I haven’t finished it or posted it.
The last toss of the coin was a grubby weekend (it wasn’t really grubby, I just like that expression) in Birmingham with our chums Lorraine and Pascale. That coin could have landed on either side but somehow every food experience we shared was remarkable in it’s own way (not all necessarily in a good way) and within an hour of getting home on Sunday afternoon I had flopped out over a 1000 words. Job done.
Only not quite. You see you may have noticed that I don’t write a lot about food and that’s because it’s not a subject I feel great writing about (see paragraph 1). My taste in food is only marginally more sophisticated than that of a Viking so there was no way I was ever going to come anywhere close to the kind of stuff that AA Gill could pump out; he was a master and I am merely some bloke that his apprentice might once have given the directions for the toilet to in a pub near Swaffham. Granted, Gill could occasionally be a bit OTT but when he shone he was like the sun. I guess you have to start somewhere.
And I’ve done it. It’s all sent and now I have to wait for several weeks while the Sunday Times judges whittle the work down to an also ran, a runner up and a winner. As is often the case in such circumstances I don’t really think I have a choc-ice’s chance in hell but at the same time the piece I sent off was by no means a disaster and I suppose if I thought I had NO chance then I wouldn’t have bothered. You’ll know if I won (I won’t) because the piece will be published in the Sunday Times magazine (it won’t, because I won’t), under my real name (it won’t be because it won’t, because I won’t). Otherwise I’ll wait for them to never get in touch (but they might) and just post it sometime in June (which I might not need to). I don’t want to wallow in negativity; you already have an opinion about my writing but since you’re not on the judging panel it’s unlikely to be very helpful. It’s the first time I’ve ever entered a writing competition and if you know me at all you’ll know that entering any competition is quite a step. So I thought I’d also write something about writing about eating. And you’ve just read that. Judge away.