Every year around this time the All Party Writers Group holds its winter drinks reception at the House of Commons. This year the invitation came from John Whittingdale MP, Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. We gathered, on a freezing night in a very warm marquee on The Terrace. Authors at this party are expected to take the opportunity of lobbying MPs and Lords about issues that matter to us -the current one being where PLR is going to end up after the cuts - hopefully with ALCS. I spotted Nicholas Allan and Michelle Magorian who, like me, hadn't found a Minister to harangue and were enjoying the wine and canopees. Then came the 2010 Educational Writers' Award presentation. ALCS and the Society of Authors created this award in 2008 to 'celebrate educational writing that inspires creativity and encourages students to read widely and build up their understanding of a subject beyond the requirements of exam specifications.' It's the only UK award that focuses on educational non-fiction and they always hand out the prizes at this party.
Bill Bryson won it with A Really Short History of Nearly Everything - and was very generous to his publisher, Random House, when he was receiving prize money in a large white envelope, saying it was very little to do with him and mostly to do with them. So various people from Random House walked away with large white envelopes too!