The award is being given this year for the first time. You may say that there are already enough awards, what with the British Comedy Awards, Sportsman of the Year Award, Pipe Smoker of the Year Award, Booker Prize, Goal of the Month Contest and the Horse of the Day Show, but the organisers of the Moment of the Year Award feel these are all rather tired and old long-termist awards, and that nothing is ever done to recognise those little events that, for better or for worse, have shaped the way we will see 1994 in retrospect, or even symbolise and crystallise it.
In the words of the sponsors of the award, the National Soundbite Library, "This award is against the big speech and for the little quote; against the marathon and for the sprint; against the game and for the comment shouted by the spectator; against theprogramme and for the credits ..."
"Let me put it this way," said Lord Crudwick, chief executive of the National Soundbite Library, as he came to the rostrum to make the presentation last night, "let me put it this way. It's the big moments that people remember. It's the Berlin Wall coming down you remember, not the years of Communism that preceded it. It's the death of Kennedy, not his life. We can all remember Gascoigne bursting into tears, but I'm damned if I can remember how he played. Our attention span is now so short that moments seem long. That is why we have endowed this Moment of the Year Award, which is being awarded for the first time in 1994."
Amid cries of "Get on with it, you old fool" and "Give yourself a salary rise and go home!", Lord Crudwick shuffled his notes, coughed slightly and approached the microphone again.
"We have not, as you may have noticed, divided this award into many different categories. We have not given separate prizes for comedy moment of the year, sporting moment of the year, political moment of the year and so on. This is partly because we can't afford to give prizes to everyone, but mostly because it would take far too long to give prizes for all these different moments, and once you start adding moments together, you get a lot of time and you destroy the whole concept of the award.
"May I say, in passing, that we have been criticised in some quarters for our glorification of the moment. And that we rebut that criticism most fervently. Our grounds for rebuttal are that the whole of our culture is moving towards the glorification of the moment. There are entire TV programmes dedicated to the worship of the moment. I need mention only You've Been Framed and It'll Be All Right On The Night and Beadle's ... Beadle's ... I can't quite ..."
Lord Crudwick bent to read his notes, as if ignorant of the name of the programme. The crowd yelled, as one person: "About!" Lord Crudwick beamed back.
"A nice moment there, I think you'll agree."
There was a roar of laughter, as they realised he had known the name of the programme perfectly well all along.
"This is the culture of the instant video replay and the highlight and the slow-motion repeat. The moment seen again in slow motion, what could be more post-modern than that? And sometimes we who worship the moment are quicker off the mark than those whosee things in the long term. Only the other day Prince Charles said something extremely nice about Spike Milligan, and Milligan responded by saying that Prince Charles has always been a grovelling little bastard. Many commentators wrote long essays on the reasons why Milligan had turned anti-monarchist. Those of us here tonight knew that, off the top of his head, Milligan had made a mock anti-monarchist joke. Not a good joke. Not a joke that wins awards. But a joke, none the less, and a moment to savour.
"Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is the moment that we are here to glorify tonight. We come here tonight not to praise the Booker Prize, but to praise the moment when the result is announced. We come to praise the by-election result, not the parliamentary session. We come to praise not the National Lottery, but the manner of winning it. We come to praise the knock-out, not the points decision, the penalty shoot-out, not the nil-nil draw."
"Oh, for heaven's sake get on with it so we can get back to the free booze," shouted a drunken voice from the crowd at this point.
"I hear the voice of the chairman of the board," smiled Lord Crudwick, "so I had better get a move on. Accordingly, I shall now read out the nominations for the title of Moment of the Year 1994."
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