Free Food, Free Drinks, Free Books…

and I guess I ought to mention free admission, courtesy of Speaking Volumes, sponsors and organisers of the UK Christian Book Awards. I’m referring to my day at CRE, the Christian Resources Exhibition: catching up with people, collecting catalogues, meeting publishers and authors… all in all, a day of serious networking and a lot of fun along the way. If you’re one of the many people whose paths I crossed on Wednesday and you don’t get a mention, please don’t take it as a slight: it was simply one of those days where it’s impossible to talk about everyone and everything. My thanks, however, to everyone who conspired to make it a very worthwhile visit.

I arrived just in time for the Award Presentations, being given by Adrian and Bridget Plass. Adrian and Bridget entertained us with a sketch about Anglicans and Free Churches attempting to work together and eventually discovering that the one thing they had in common was — UKCBA Winnersbut I’m not going to say because that would ruin it if ever you get to see them in action. Typically spot-on Plass humour that takes the lid off the  Church and its pretensions to leave you amused and squirming uncomfortably at the same time as you recognise some of your own follies…

And the winners, pictured here along with Paula Renouf (in the blue dress), who ably co-ordinated the whole event, and various others from the Speaking Volumes Board, are:

  • General: Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference (9780340909089, Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Biography: Richard Taylor, To Catch a Thief (9781903725573, New Wine Press)
  • Children’s/Youth: Jonathan Brant, YP’s Guide To Knowing God (9781853454073, CWR)

Congratulations to the winnersSharp-eyed readers may wonder about Philip Yancey’s gender reassignment; fear not: Philip himself couldn’t be with us, that’s a publisher’s representative accepting his award. Congratulations to all concerned, and commiserations to the runners up (not losers, please note: runners up).

Cliff's 50th Anniversary BadgeEveryone who attended was given a bag full of goodies including a selection of books, a stack of publishers’ catalogues, a couple of bookmarks (“Praise the Lord,” I hear you cry, “he’s got his bookmarks!”) and, since no Christian event can be considered complete without an appearance from the blessed St Cliff, a Cliff Richard Badge! Thank you, Lion-Hudson. I think…

Authentic Author Cafe

Next on the agenda was the Authentic Author Café, with sandwiches, fruit juice and coffee courtesy of Authentic Media and personally served by none other than STL’s Pete Barnsley. Thanks, Pete! Nick Battle told us something of his life story as recounted in Big Boys Don’t Cry (watch this space for a review), then interviewed fellow authors Chris Rogers (9781850787822, A Monkey’s Orientation), Peter Meadows (9781860245688, The Book of Y), David Cowan (9781932805727, Economic Parables: The Monetary Teachings of Jesus Christ) and Anona Coates (9781860247019, I Wish I Was).

Then came the real highlight of the day: a trip down Esher High Street to The Bear Pub to meet up with a group of SPCK’s dispossessed booksellers — Phelim McIntyre amongst others, who organised the get-together — and the ineffable Dave Walker whose blogging has kept us all up to speed on the Brewers’ misdemeanours. It was an honour and a privilege to be able to use some of the money from the UKCBD Save the SPCK Booksellers Fund to help some who came with their travel expenses: thank you to those who have contributed to that.

I had a fairly long chat with Alan Mordue (SPCK’s Sales and Marketing Director) afterwards. He assured me that SPCK have not washed their hands of the situation: it is in the hands of their solicitors. I’ll say more when I know more. In the meantime, let’s hope and pray that the forthcoming Employment Tribunals bring some justice for those whom the Brewers have treated so appallingly…

Finally: on departure from CRE, a bottle of mineral water for the journey home courtesy of Samaritan’s Purse as part of their Turn On The Tap appeal: it’s so easy for us to take water for granted here in the UK. Let’s spare some change to bring about a change in the lives of our brothers and sisters elsewhere, where water is not so simply obtained.

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9 thoughts on “Free Food, Free Drinks, Free Books…

  1. Phil – thank you for saying that the ex-SPCK staff gathering was the highlight of the day. Thannk you for coming and helping those struggling financially, and to those others who contributed to the fund so this could happen. It is great to know that people are thinking of us during the ongoing saga.

    More gaterings will follow as this one went so well.

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  4. Great report and wish I’d realised you would have been there – would have been great to say hi. Ironically you and I were in the same room for the book awards doo dah and I was sitting next to Mary Batholomew and saying that I didn’t know anyone else in the room. Sigh….

    Anyhow, good report and hopefully we’ll catch up at something soon

    Paul.

  5. Good to see everyone at ‘The Bear’ hope you all had a good day. Look forward to meeting up again soon.
    Thanks Phil for the support you have given

  6. Hi Phil, so glad you could be with us at the awards and report so positively about it. Thanks to everyone who contributed, from those who nominated books back in September 07, to our voters and visitors at the ceremony itself. Pity you mentioned I was the one in the dress – I kinda stick out amongst all those grey suits!
    Paula.

  7. Hey Paul – thanks for stopping by; sorry to have missed you!

    Alison: you’re welcome. Shame on the Brewers that such support is needed! Glad to do what I can and wish I could do more…

    Paula: we need more colour — thanks for brightening things up. C’mon all you boring grey-suits: lighten up! Learn a lesson from the blessed St Cliff! Hmmm… now what colour was I wearing… black, I think… oops…

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