The phone rang. I didn't take it. Marcel did, next door. He came in a few minutes later - with a very solemn expression on his face. "I have some news," he said. I was immediately alarmed. "Don't worry, it's good news!" he quickly added..."Olivia has won the Texaco Art Competition!" We were thrilled...she had won her category, Age 6 And Under, with her adorable painting of Rosie Whiskers.
Olivia ran into her tent (which is permanently up just inside where the front door would be, if we had a front door, so it's just inside where the ill-fitting piece of plywood is) and zipped up the two doors. "Oh NO!" she shouted. "Everyone is going to CLAP at me!" Then she found out she had won the sum of €150. After a few minutes she said to Honor, "How much did I win again Honor? Was it €50,000 or €150?" Then she rang my mum. She told her the good news. Then after a minute or two she said, "Granny! I won €150! So that means I have...€152! "[pause] - "I got the extra two euros from the tooth fairy!" That was so cute.
The other two were admirably un-jealous. Honor decided to redouble her efforts to have something published. I explained to them that if they were a bit jealous, they shouldn't worry, that I spent my LIFE jealous and it just makes me want to try harder. I think that cheered them up a bit - not that I was jealous too but that I admitted to feeling something that was ungenerous and unseemly, that you are not really supposed to admit to feeling.
This was all a few weeks ago. The other day Livvie came in and said "Oh NO! There's going to be loads of people taking pictures, and I'll have to smile and smile!" "What's wrong with that?" I asked. "My GILLS are going to hurt!" she answered, pointing to somewhere on her cheeks. Cute! So cute!
Anyway, today is the day that we all went up to Dublin for the whole media gig. It was fun - a nice lunch followed by lots of photographers all expressing themselves differently. One wanted two little eyes peeking over the top of the painting, another wanted the poor tired child to hold the thing above her head (complete with its big frame) about a million times, another got her to hold the very star of the piece, Rosie Whiskers herself, beside the picture. It could have been worse - I saw one prizewinner (a very serious teenage boy) being made to lie full-length on the floor beside his picture, like those pictures you see of cute kids with their feet in the air with white backgrounds.
Up until today I was fully confident in the mastery of Livvie's piece. But this evening I looked at some of the other entries, from this year and from others, and I think the standard is incredibly high. I wouldn't have been so cocky at the press gig if I had seen those paintings before today. Mind, the ones I saw weren't in the Age 6 And Under category so I can't really compare...but I will say that I think it must have been (a) the freshness and (b) lightness of being and (c) sheer cuteness of Livvie's that the judges must have liked.