I've just experienced the intense shock of success. My brain told my body 'I'm not able to process this so I'm going to treat it as a dream and go lie down for a while. You carry on'. My body, suddenly weak as a new born foal, did a sterling job of walking me around without fainting. I wasn't prepared to win; as I listened to the list of runners up being announced, I thought perhaps they'd forgotten to add me to it. I doubted my own hearing when I heard my name read out and had to be nudged out of my corner by my niece as she and my sister clapped and cheered me on. I felt it so important that I express my heartfelt thanks, but when I stood in front of everybody words zipped around in my mind like trapped bees and I managed only a sentence or two. When I sat down again I realised I'd forgotten to expressly thank the judges and was worried that they would take the prize back for ingratitude.
I've discovered that shock can be wonderful. I was catapulted into a surreal world, all wrapped up in a gigantic cheque. I was surrounded by lovely people and much loved family in a cosy location that heaved and buzzed with life. I sipped at my glass of wine, though I don't usually drink, as I was congratulated, hugged and embraced and I felt spectacularly lucky to feel such joy. Of course it didn't actually feel real and I couldn't sleep that night. At two in the morning, knowing that I had a whirlwind tour of London tourist spots ahead of me, I decided to calm myself down by counting sheep. Unfortunately, the sheep wouldn't behave. As they leapt, in turn, over the fence, they cheered and waggled their hooves in the air, celebrating my prize for me. I realised then that this surreal world wasn't disappearing anytime soon, so I lay in the dark letting the sheep run riot, tipsy with merlot, giggling into my pillow.
I spent Saturday with my sister and niece; letting the reality of the prize sink in as we watched BMX ballet in Trafalgar Square, visited the fabulous Tibet's Secret Temple exhibition at the Welcome Gallery and ate pizza in a friendly Italian restaurant. Being the 8th Luke Bitmead bursary prize winner finally felt real on the train on the way home. Then I flicked through my emails on my phone and saw a message 'we have news about your ticket'. I sank in my seat and thought 'Great, I knew I was dreaming'. When I logged into my online account I saw that I'd won £3.70. I have never been so grateful not to have won the national lottery.