Why everyone wants to win a naked gold man

13 August 2008 - The Herald  www.theherald.co.uk

Awards are necessary. To use as book ends, to put on your mantelpiece and to boost your self-esteem. You can never win enough. And some people will do anything to win; even if it means sleeping with the head of the judging panel (no matter how disdainful he may look) bribing people, drugging people, even threatening people.

Every performer in Edinburgh wants to win an award. Some people, who have already won, come back in the hope of winning that same award again, that's how much there is the desire to win.

I have recently been voted a Columnist of the Year. It didn't change my life, but I was relieved to hear that someone, somewhere, thinks I'm good at something. I also had a few dashing men come to chat me up simply because I'd won. And my mum used it as a marketing tool in her relentless search for my future husband. I feel it would be a bit weird for someone to want to marry me just because I was Columnist of the Year, but status is all the rage.

I am sure sex is a by-product of winning awards.

They make you more attractive. Steve Coogan was never sexy before he won the Perrier. Now, apparently, he sleeps with really rich women. For some ladies it's a great high to walk into a man's house and see all his gongs in rows on top of the TV. It's a sign of power, money, sex, and fame.

Everyone is not a winner. At the Edinburgh Festival there are winners, losers and tryers. The winners are generally successful in life. They won everything before they even got here. Three A's at A Level, first-class degree, amazing stand-up comedian in three years, all going so well they had to throw in a nervous breakdown to spice it all up, then arrive in Edinburgh just to collect trophies.

The first thing I ever won was a statue of a naked gold man on sports day at infant school, when I came first in the egg-and-spoon race. My first thought was "God, I'm so much better than everyone else". What a great feeling. And not many girls my age could get their hands on a naked gold man, so I felt really special.

Awards are no surprise. We all have a good idea who's going to win what. Preparations have been taking place for months, even years. It's all been meticulously planned. PRs, managers, sponsors - they've all done their bit. Winning is no accident.

The most entertaining bit is watching people's faces at the awards ceremonies. It is tragedy masked in forced dignity. The losers who want to cry and shout have to stand there and display some happiness for the winners. You hear people saying, "I'm happy just to get nominated". No you're not. Once you get nominated for an award you'll want to win it, and you'll be devastated if you don't.

To even be on the radar for an award you've got to fit in somewhere. New, cool, different, weird, been around forever - apparently you all deserve something.

Every industry has its own Oscars these days. We have to have the best and worst in everything, top 50 this, top 100 that and the ambition never stops.

Performers are the most gluttonous, zealous and ruthless when it comes to awards. They don't just want a comedy prize; they want the Nobel Peace Prize, an OBE and posthumous awards after they're long dead. Awards bring out the Simon Cowell in all of us.