Last Saturday was epic in various ways. I'd somehow made it to the inaugural One Voice Awards in London's docklands, despite being booby trapped by a variety of obstacles, ranging from a client requesting a last minute re-record of a voiceover so late I had to do it in my undercrackers, to Google Maps leading me through a darkening wood straight out of a Grimm fairytale on the way to the venue. "Are we not in central London?" I ranted to myself as I trotted through the mud, clearly visualising my own murdering, luckily in my trainers.
But nevertheless I arrived unscathed, if a little on the sweaty side. It wasn't until I got to my seat - at a table right at the front that I thought, Gordon Bennett what if I actually win something? I was nominated for 3 awards and had wistfully imagined myself up there accepting them, being hilarious of course.. but then suddenly it was up THERE....
There were so many interesting people to talk to and a great sense of camaraderie, this was the first of Gravy For The Brain's conferences and they were absolutely smashing it. A delicious meal came and went and before I knew it the awards were coming thick and fast. One by one an array of sparkling, excited people made their way up onto the stage to accept them with brilliant little anecdotes and funny or inspiring stories to tell. I was rooted to my seat wondering if it was still OK to say Gordon Bennett out loud in front of other adults, when in the distance I hear Peter Dickson saying '..and the award for Best Radio Promo goes to'...The next 2 words he says are so slowed down it's as if i'm underwater... 'Hannah Melbourn'.
Thats it. I'm up, i'm on my feet, i'm doing the crack-walk leaning forwards, practically falling up the steps (heels this time) I shake his hand, HAHAHA! PETER DICKSON HAHAHA HELLO!, grimace for a picture, wobble over to the microphone.. "GORDON BENNETT!" (did I..?...hope not.. can't remember) and I can barely breathe as they're playing my work over the PA system..and then it's quiet and...nothing..comes..out
Well no, I mean, something came out but it was mainly like that sketch when Eddie Izzard tries to imagine how they came up with the name Englebert Humpadink, or at the very least in a made up language https://youtu.be/ckGmMO0zbJo?t=50s
What I was going to say though, was this:
I can't really express how much it means to me to win an industry award for work I did last year, because last year was a rollercoaster in the truest sense of the word - it was the first year of my baby's life, and everything (by which I mean literally every single thing) was hard. To be rewarded for what I was doing at a time when I was doing double shifts seven days a week, working out how to take proper care of her, whilst simultaneously keeping my career on track makes such a difference to me, and feels like so much more of an achievement.
There is a photo of me somewhere (my partner would never miss a golden opportunity like this) with headphones on and a mic rigged up in front of me, propping a bottle in my baby's mouth with one hand, but with also one boob out (not for fun mind you, but because we were dealing with the seven hells of combination-babyfeeding) - it was around 1am and I was cutting vocals for a drinks brand pitch we didn't win. I recorded a whole song once with her sleeping on me in the papoose, mostly lulled by my swaying, but occasionally bellowing and ruining the whole take. I would get on a train to a studio in town leaving her with her Dad who was on a deadline too, so he would have to work through the night so I could go to work...These scenarios were common and life was a case of juggling, spinning plates, trying to see the funny side, falling asleep in your dinner.
But when it came to the moment on Saturday night, I think I knew if I said all that I might cry, or worse, have to be serious for a minute - and so I sort of turned into a human version of the test card. But I do want to say it now because it's important - and incase it helps any other new parent out there to keep on keeping on when it feels impossible. The best thing my partner ever said to me when it really felt like we were at the coal face was 'you've just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other'. And so somehow, with his help, I did.
A lot has changed since those crazy first months and now our little one is old enough for nursery, we have what looks more like a normal life. She's a gobby little toddler who sings a lot, and already knows farts are funny. Obviously i'm recording all her first little phrases as they come out, and as we slowly turn our home into a fully functioning studio hopefully she will pick up a few instruments and maybe a few funny voices along the way too.
So thank you again to Gravy For The Brain, especially to Hugh who mentored me when I was in the thick of it. To On The Sly voices, and of course to Ben, Syd and Scout, my loves - nothing makes sense without you.