Sunday, 25 May 2014

Step back in time

Last week I went to the RNA Summer Party for the presentation of the Joan Hessayon award. This is awarded every year to a writer whose debut novel went through the New Writers' Scheme - and there were a record breaking seventeen contenders this year!
I didn't win - the lovely Jo Thomas did with her novel The Oystercatchers - but it was still fun to catch up with writerly friends, drink some prosecco and get a certificate.
It was also an opportunity to fulfil a lifetime's wish and stay in a London Club. Not a gentleman's club a la Bertie Wooster for hopefully obvious reasons, nor the kind of posh, media club frequented by artists and journalists and full of scandal and debauchery (possibly), not when I had to pick my daughter up from school the day after, anyway. No, I always wanted to stay in the kind of club Agatha Christie heroines and other nineteen thirties literary ladies stayed in when they went 'up to town'.
The RNA had associate membership of the New Cavendish. It's central (near Mayfair), reasonably priced (for London), has excellent pedigree (born out of the First World War as a club for VADS), does a hearty breakfast and is situated in a beautiful building right in the heart of Georgette Heyer territory. Perfect. Sadly, as London gets richer and richer, places like the New Cavendish are squeezed out and it shuts its doors for the final time this week.
So next time I go to an RNA event I can stay in one of the many anonymous budget chains. It will be comfortable and hopefully reasonable. But there will be no sense of history, no link with the past. No personal touch. I'm just glad I got to stay there once before the end.

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