The Oldie's pin-up
This is a heartfelt thank-you to the Oldie .. for making me the Oldie's pin-up of the year at their brilliantly louche awards ceremony today.
When I got the invitation to the Oldie of the Year lunch, I have to say that I thought it was a great reward for having hosted an event at the Oldie's Soho Lit. Festival. It wasn't until the management were more than a little concerned to find out that I was really attending the event that I realised that I might have won something. (I took this from what I have read ... ok, lets compare little and large here .. about the Oscars etc: if they get very keen on knowing about the car you are coming by, it means you have won).
The truth is that the whole event was damn brilliant. And if I have ever before sneered at Terry Wogan (which I may have done) please let me take it back. Both he and (the co-host) Richard Ingrams were great forces for pleasure and amusement throughout.
Part of that was the feisty (self-)presentation of the over 60s (or over 60-ish). The guests weren't the grannies and grandpas of the senior railcard adverts, whose life seems to consist only in visiting the younger generation by very long train journeys. These were powerful people, and grey funsters, with projects still underway. I'm sure you know the kind I mean.. Joan Bakewell, Maureen Lipman, Libby Purves, Lucy Lampton (and that's only a few of the ladies).
Anyway the prizes were a wonderful array. The top "Golden Oldie" award went to Michael Heseltine (just think, I thought to myself, how I hated him when I was young, and now . . .). The others were a centenarian Marathon runner (who came with his trainer to speak on his behalf), Trog the cartoonist, the oldest kidney donor in the country,the man who raised the money for the memprial to Bomber Command .. and me.
The fact was that, althought I had got the message that I'd be getting an award, I still hadn't worked out what for. The family betting had been on the Golden Hairbrush award 2013, or the "Oldie award for sartorial idiosyncrasy", vel sim. In a way, they weren't all that wrong.. as it was the "Pin up of the year".
Now in all kinds of ways this is a great joke. And don't for a minute think I am taking it over-seriously. But I can tell you that when you have taken some of the shit that I have over the last weeks (if you dont know, then google for it), this sort of thing, in all its jokey colours, simply warms the heart.
The truth is that I have had huge (e-)mail bags full of support; for which many thanks. But this kind of lighthearted public treatment (started for me, I should say, no less lightheartedly by the admirable Evening Standard) is one of the most effective ways of facing down some of the sillier sorts of sexism that I .. and many others .. have been attacked with. And it's an effective way of having a good time too.
So thank you Oldie! And thank you Standard!