I always find these awards bashes a bit daunting. You never seem to see anyone you know until the event is nearly over. At that point, you see 15 of your closest friends, but don't have time to chat because you've got to rush off. So having armed myself with a glass of fizzy wine, I was delighted to see Cleve West and greeted him in much the same way that a traveller stranded in the Sahara will greet a glass of water.
However, as I stood sipping my fizz, whom should I see over Cleve's shoulder but VP. Yay! She had been nominated for an award - in the Blog of the Year category, needless to say.
We all went into lunch, which was surprisingly good, with pumpkin soup, beef and Stilton suet pudding, and warm chocolate and fig melt with pear water ice. I could feel myself putting on a stone. I was on the National Gardens Scheme table, sitting between their chief executive, Julia Grant, and the gardening journalist and author George Plumptre, who is also an NGS trustee.
The awards ceremony itself was fairly brisk, which was good, as it was accompanied by deafening music that made a punning reference to the recipient. For example, the chairman of the GMG, Valerie McBride-Munro was greeted with a blast of Amy Winehouse's Valerie. Wesley Kerr, who won the award for National Radio Gardening Broadcast of the Year with his documentary War of the Roses, was accompanied onto the stage by the strains of Elvis Costello's It's Been a Good Year for the Roses.
These were fairly easy to work out, but the choice of a David Essex song for an award to Radio Essex gardening presenter Ken Crowther was a bit more convoluted, as was the selection of Hi Ho Silver Lining for the new chairman of the GMG, author and garden designer Geoff Whiten. Was it something to do with the name Geoff (Jeff Beck, geddit?) or was it an allusion to the colour of his hair? I'm still trying to work that one out.
As the lunch ended, I saw lots of people I knew - Pattie Barron, James Alexander-Sinclair, Matthew Wilson, Emma Townshend, Martyn Cox - but I suddenly felt really tired and decided that instead of going on to the post-awards party, I might make my way home. I bumped into VP, who had to get home to Chippenham and we decided to kill time in the local Starbucks before she went for her train, and amuse ourselves by discussing to whom WE would have given the awards.
James had won the Blog award, but had been kind enough to mention VP in his acceptance speech, which, we agreed, was lovely of him.
Carol Warters of Garden News won the News Story of the Year award for a feature entitled Grow Plea to World Leaders. I'm sure it was a really good piece, but I think my choice would have been Matthew Appleby's story on how the credit crunch affected the Chelsea Flower Show this year. All the serious papers followed this story up (including the Independent) and none of them credited or quoted Mr Appleby (including the Independent).
Personally, my choice for Gardening Column of the Year would have been Martyn Cox. And VP wanted to know why Nigel Colborn wasn't nominated for his blog, Silvertreedaze? We'll keep our secateurs crossed for you for next year, chaps.
Oops, nearly forgot. Here is a totally irrelevant picture of Pushkin for VP, who was asking after him.
*For the benefit of non-UK readers, the City of London is a specific part of London - indeed, the original city, or historic core, of London. Also known as the Square Mile, it dates back centuries. Nowadays, "the City" also means the financial district. You might hear someone say: "He/she is thinking of going into the City", meaning they are thinking of taking up a career in banking or sharedealing.