At this year's Blog North Awards (previously known as the Manchester Blog Awards), whilst in fact downing a fair quantity of Canadian Club whisky and Wild Turkey bourbon, I learned a new synonym for “arse”. Today I would not know the phrase “jelly pack at the back” had the awards not been rebranded to allow the nomination of northern blogs from outside of Manchester.
This knowledge was bestowed to me on Wednesday 17th October in Manchester's Deaf Institute when the Liverpudlian Amy Roberts- reading from her blog I Never KnewYou Were Such a Monster- told a vivid story of a clothes store assistant trying to get her mysogynistic boss to throw out a teenage boy who slapped her backside.
Following this, Kevin Boniface takes the stage. “I'm a postman from Huddersfield,” he says, “and this is me blog.” And so he gives us an engaging tale of dysfunction, whereby he makes his home town feel like a very small one. Find it for yourself on The MostDifficult Thing Ever.
Another highlight of the evening was a presentation from blogger Len Grant, whose blog Her First Year followed a young family- father Hassan and mother Frances- as they raise their baby, Mia, in Manchester's Moss Side. Len met the family through the Reclaim project, “about helping young people build self confidence and reliance on their own inherent talents that even they may not have realised.” The four were part of a fascinating discussion, gurgles from Mia included.
A presentation with a cute baby is a tough act to follow, but Sci Fi novelist Adam Christopher managed just that by discussing his newest book, the intriguing Empire State. He also discussed how he had to stop blogging altogether to get his novels finished (“You need to do it if you're going to do it”, he said). His next novel, Hangwire, lands in 2015.
One criticism I have of the awards is this: although Adam's work was really interesting, this is still the BLOG North awards, about blogging. I like fiction personally, but not everyone who has an interest in blogging necessarily does. It's a totally different form of writing, so is it relevant? Especially seeing as Adam admitted that blogging got in the way of his novel's completion? Isn't there enough content on the actual blogs to be read out?
Anyway. After a break (where I buy more liquor and my handwriting diminishes further) the awards are read out. Each winner gets £50 and hosting from professional web hosts 34SP.
Best Arts and Culture Blog
The winner: A Negative Narrative
The runner up: Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second
Best City or Neighbourhood Blog
The winner: Sevenstreets (This blog received 5 cease and desist letters!)
The runner up: Unicycle Emptiness
Best Food and Drink Blog
The winner: Around the World in Eighty Bakes
The runner up: Squidbeak
Best Personal Blog
The winner: Her First Year
The runner up: A Different View
Best Specialist Blog
The winner: The Magic Square Foundation
The runner up: Fontilan
The winner: The Most Difficult Thing Ever
The runner up: Tiffers At: Otherwise I’ll Forget
Best Young Blogger
The runner up: Celluloid Wickerman
Speaking to 2010 winner and 2011 panel judge Fat Roland, we agreed that it was good to see a lot of fresh faces at the event. Not only were the blogs different to those nominated in the previous years, but the attendees of the event were relative newbies- these blogging events tend to attract their regulars like Roland and myself. Most people I didn't know, and both Roland and I felt a breath of life had been blown into the Awards event.
For more details, check out Laura Maley's fine writeup on the Manchester Literature Festival blog.