I was in Hogwarts Dining Hall! A table set up in The Hall at Christ Church College like the Last Supper with grumpy Hanif Kureishi at one end a dashing Melvyn Bragg next to him plus Andrew Holgate, the literary editor of the Times - who set himself up to be knocked down by the others which made me like him instantly- Alison McLeod and two skilled performers, to honour the finalists of The Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.
The extracts read from the six shortlisted stories took us from a beer trip to LLandudno to the American Civil War. The Beer Trip to Llandudno by Kevin Barry won my vote - touching, restrained and perfectly pitched - a story that gradually unwrapped the deep bonds that bind a group of emotionally scarred males. The judges agreed and he pocketed the £30 000. For a writer like me the CVs were rather terrifying, all the finalists were shortlisted for, or winners of, major prizes - (and I don't mean the "Guess the Weight of the Paper Mache Cow," prize that I won at the Girl Guides' jamboree).