Oh What A Night!

"And the winner is ..."

There are certain stressful moments when time slows down.

It doesn't stop, per se, but it can seem to glitch, like a temporal needle snagging on a cosmic groove.

"And the winner is ..."

These are the times when your body chemistry is so altered – from adrenaline, outside intoxicants or possibly just a massive dollop of spicy food – that you actually do travel back in time, instinctively regressing to an earlier genetic incarnation of yourself: primal, atavistic, pretty much preliterate.

"And the winner is ..."

It can be confusing and a wee bit scary, especially if you're in the same room as a genuine Scottish legend called Cameron.

"And the winner is ..."

Earlier this week, the Tramps found themselves trapped in just that sort of time loop when, after three hours – three hours packed with entertainment and spicy hi-jinks, sure, but mostly just ratcheting up suspense to near-unbearable levels – the Scottish Curry Awards 2010 got properly underway with the presentation of the Curry Lover Of The Year category ...

The Tramps had prepared themselves for the big night with their usual Spartan discipline – absorbing an inordinate amount of UFC scrapping the evening before, then burning through the afternoon with a prolonged, often hilariously haphazard online team-up on Red Dead Redemption, skirmishing with Italian and French cowboys with fitfully satisfying results.

If you were following The Tramp's Tweeta Masala of blow-by-blow reports of the evening, you'll know they eventually made their real-life rendezvous in the Universal pub tucked in the oxter alley of Watt Brothers department store, taking a comforting pint of Guinness on board to prepare for the evening ahead. Trampy was rocking a suit, and hoping that no-one would notice it was the same one he wore to the Scottish Curry Awards 2009, albeit partnered with a tie of notably superior warp and weave. For his part, The Tramp was stomping down the traditional route in a fearsome kilt, though his trusty skean dhu had wisely been left at home.

This year, the Scottish Curry Awards were taking place at the Thistle Hotel, a city centre venue with such impressive gym facilities that it is literally impossible to walk through its corridors without feeling a waft of chlorine from the pool. By the time you make your way to the main ballroom and bar, however, the chemical tang has receded, and so the Tramps could enjoy their complimentary orange juices on arrival at 6.45pm without reliving childhood memories of swimming practice. The joint was already bustling with various nominees, dignitaries and invited guests, including representatives of the press, easily identifiable as they lunged for the canapes. The Sunday Post were the official media sponsor of the awards, but there was also a contingent of Herald staffers determined to have a good time, cheerfully wishing the Tramps the best of luck. Having snagged some impressive lamb seekh kebabs and cocktail-sized aloo tiki, our heroes were relaxing into the evening, although things were always going to get sweaty.

After half an hour or so, the hundreds of guests were encouraged to take their seats in the expansive main ballroom, handsomely stage-dressed with sumptuous crimson drapes and red bows. It was at this point the Tramps discovered that the awards were to be hosted by Andy Cameron, comic hero to generations of Scots and an effortless patter merchant. He launched into his first routine: "Would the owners of a Ford and a Peugeot parked directly outside the hotel ..." Hang on! This wasn't actually a joke, more of a public service announcement. But with the housekeeping out of the way, Cameron fired up the crowd with some classic banter, striking the right note between winningly old-school jokes and encouraging the crowd to support the Scottish Spina Bifida Association, with an attendant video and raffle.

The atmosphere at the Tramps' table was fairly buoyant in these early stages, particularly because a couple of the guests were employed by one of the largest piemakers in the country, which made for some interesting crusty chat. The Tramps were also sitting in very close proximity to Ian Cowie – aka Mr Snax – the official Scottish Curry Lover Of The Year 2008. After introducing themselves, the Tramps bonded with the great man over the Shish Mahal Cook Book, the awesome Village in Tradeston and the late, much-lamented Shalimar (formerly on Gibson Street). They were also suitably humbled to hear from their new friend Rajak about the work of the Ucare Foundation, building sustainable hospitals in Pakistan and ensuring that the entire community benefits through genuinely useful education and training.

You might be wondering: who would be brave enough to cater the Scottish Curry Awards, a place where the cream of the curry scene are assembled en masse? That responsibility fell to Saffron Events UK, who rose to the challenge of catering to 700 or so discerning diners by keeping things moving: the starters were ferried around on trays by waiting staff, delivering dhaka chicken and mixed pakora straight to your plate. For the main courses, there was an impressive rotating curry stand in the middle of each table. With its steampunk styling, hooked candle-holders and spinning central mechanism, it looked a little bit like it came from a proposed Victorian Curry Zone in The Crystal Maze. At the Tramps' table there was initially some confusion over exactly which copper pot went where. Once assembled, however, this elegant buffet provider offered jeera rice, lamb pasanda, garlic chilli chicken, tawa sabji, shahi turka dhal and – the discovery of the evening – delicious malai kofta balls, all accompanied by a variety of naan, paratha, roti and raita, as well as a "decorative salad", which sounds like pretty much like the perfect TATTGOC salad. It was certainly an impressive-looking spread.

With the award announcement looming, though, Trampy and The Tramp felt an unusual lack of appetite, especially when confronted with such a formidable buffet. Blame it on butterflies or too much caffeine but our usually hearty heroes limited themselves to just one plateful of curry each, which seemed almost wasteful in the presence of such an abundant feast. And that was even before the mango kulfi and shaki kheer dessert! The Tramp's coping mechanism appeared to be tweeting suitably gallus updates of what was happening to a rapidly expanding band of online followers. You can relive the whole raucous tale by following @buggenhagen on Twitter and scrolling back the years, but some of the sweeter tweets included:

"Andy C rocking some amazing old school specs - Two Ronnies style. Might have to ask him where he got them."

"Dance troupe called 'Miss Punjabeez' on stage giving us a show ... Trampy mesmerised."

Music accompanying dinner is a touch James Cameron/Avatar though - not so good."

Punjabi No 1, a fusion traditional/hip-hop dance act now on. Trampy looking hot under the collar."

... and so on.

Trampy, meanwhile, busied himself with a complimentary copy of Love Curry magazine, which coincidentally carried a double-page spread interview with TATTGOC's committed co-founders (insert your own joke about how they needed a double-page spread just for the pictures). Then, finally, inalterably, it was time for the awards to begin, and since the Curry Lover Of The Year was the very first award to be announced, when Andy Cameron read out the names of the nominees it suddenly felt to the Tramps like the famous dolly zoom in Jaws. And while the TATTGOC promo video appeared to go down well with the audience, it was still a complete and utter shock when Angie Bennett of Oceanic Consulting announced to the assembled:

"And the winner is ... Trampy and The Tramp!"

Just as there are some moments when time slows down, there are others when it speeds and smears. The next 90 seconds are indistinct. The Tramps obviously leapt to their feet in tandem to manfully embrace, any bellicose bellowing thankfully masked by applause. They then skipped lightly down toward the main stage, to accept their weighty trophy from Sarah Findlay – aka Miss Earth (Scotland) – and delivered a stumbling, stunned acceptance speech.

Details are sketchy, but the Tramps apparently managed to introduce themselves the right way round, and there was a heartfelt shout-out for everyone involved in the blog and all the other nominees at the awards. It helped that under the bright lights, the hundreds of audience members remained indistinct. And as the burly champions left the stage in a daze, Andy Cameron remarked on the quality of The Tramp's luxuriant beard, which was almost like winning the award all over again.

The roll-call of award nominees and winners continued, but for the Tramps there was media scutiny to undergo. First up: some photos with Miss Earth, who smiled like a pro while flanked by two Mr Girths. The Tramps were also interviewed for Bangladeshi TV, and hopefully managed to string a few sentences together while clutching their Curry Lover plate. By the time they returned to their table, still reeling from the news, they'd missed half of the other results and had to be quickly caught up by the other guests. Apparently there had been a run on winners from the west, with TATTGOC favourite the Banana Leaf winning Takeaway of the Year while Mahrukh Butt of the Bukharah had claimed Chef of the Year. The Tramps resettled themselves in time to hear that the coveted Restaurant of the Year award had also gone to Bukharah, the self-proclaimed home of "Healthy Indian Cuisine". It certainly came recommended by one of our new piemaking friends, who stressed that as well as a decent plate of curry there was also a fantastic, if pricey, cocktail bar in the same building.

By the time the awards wrapped up, with Dr Wali Uddin – noted philanthropist and co-founder of Britannia Spice, one of the highest rated curry restaurants in Edinburgh – delivering a wry, modest acceptance speech on being annointed Curry King 2010, the Tramps had begun to adjust to the brave new world in which they found themselves. After discharging some further media duties, unsuccessfully pursuing Andy Cameron for a quick additional photoshoot and enjoying a nourishing chat with a senior representative from Kingfisher Lager, the Tramps eventually stumbled off in search of a celebratory cocktail or two, finding a suitable berth in a Bath Street hostelry so dramatically lit that they spent a fair bit of time attempting to recreate the stylised alienation of Edward Hopper paintings, while simultaneously tanning half-price White Russians, Berry Mojitos and Whisky Sours. But never mind that: would you like to know those results in full? Here we go:


Best Supermarket Curry of the Year: Asda (making it two years in a row)
Team of the Year: Ashoka Johnstone
Chef of the Year: Mahrukh Butt of Bukharah, Glasgow
Takeaway of the Year: Banana Leaf, Glasgow
Lifetime Achievement Award 2010: Sohan Singh
Restaurant of the Year: Bukharah, Glasgow
Curry King 2010 Award: Dr Wali Uddin

and ...

Curry Lover(s) of the Year:
Trampy and The Tramp's Glasgow of Curry

Aye lucky!


The Commander said...

Well done! The Curry Cub and I as honorary members are proud of you all and look forward to enjoying some sponsorship which I am sure you can secure from your new friend Frank!!! More seriously what about TATTGOC having a whip round on your nights out to put something into Ucare? Although a pensioner I could probably manage to contribute the odd bawbee.

Trampy said...

There are no shortage of charity cases at TATTGOC, but perhaps we should formalise some kind of donation. Something to ponder ...