Tonbridge blogger Fran Taylor has been named Mumsnet Best Comic Writer of the Year.
Fran’s blog, Whinge Whinge Wine, received the accolade at the Blogfest 16 awards ceremony at Kings Place, London on November 12.
The 32-year-old, who has two children aged one and two, describes her work as ‘surviving two small sleep thieves through wine, tea and sarcasm’.
She was adjudged the winner by comedian Sara Pascoe, who said: “All of the finalist blogs were witty, warm and full of much to ponder and despair at.
“But Fran’s in particular demonstrated a fresh writing style and was so easy to read and cheerful,” she added.
“Reading her is like having a wonderfully restorative chat with a funny friend. What a welcome resource for new mums.”
Fran had to fight off competition from local rival Hattie Harrison of Southborough, the author of That Mum Blog, after they were both shortlisted in the top three for the award by the influential parenting website.
The pair have become friends since discovering they lived in the same area, sharing a few glasses of prosecco, and they travelled up to the ceremony together.
Their only rival among the comedy nominees was a blog called Eeh Bah Mum, by Kirsty Smith from BrontÃ« country – Haworth in Yorkshire.
Fran said the award came as complete surprise: “When Sara Pascoe started describing my writing style as ‘warm and friendly’ I didn’t think she was talking about me.
“I was very, very shocked,” she added. “I was resigned to not winning, so in the end I was more worried about winning it than not.
“I’d gone through the whole day not thinking about it. I thrive on doing things at the very last minute. But I had had a whole day of people asking me if I was nervous and that gets to you after a while.”
She was glad that she didn’t have to make a speech. “The last time I was at an awards do, I would have been too drunk to make a speech if I had won,” she confided. “I didn’t even notice that I hadn’t won.
“It was a very long day this time, with lots of interesting talks. But there was no alcohol until after the awards so I wouldn’t have given a very good speech. I’m not used to those classroom-like situations.”
Fran was impressed by the quality of speakers at the workshops, such as comedians Shappi Khorsandi and Meera Syal. “So it was a lot of note-taking and brainwork, I wanted to make the most of it.”
While we talk, Fran takes time out to keep her children under control. The interview is interspersed with exclamations like ‘What are you doing? Get off that!’ It adds a generous spoonful of authenticity.
On the day she met up with her friends the Chucklemums. “They are a blogger circle I’ve been linking up with for the last six months. They come from all over and they’re a like-minded group.
“They are all into parenting humour like me, and that’s what I want to read at three o’clock in the morning when the kids are keeping me awake.”
They are not just there for the jokes however. Sometimes the dark side of the blogosphere can strike home when unwelcome comments are left by way of feedback.
“They have been wonderfully supportive, they read through your blogs to make sure you’re OK and they will stick up for you when someone ‘trolls’ you.”
“That’s where all this came from in the first place, me chatting to my friends on social media. But once you start blogging, you realise there is so much more to it.”
Her talent appears to be something that comes to her naturally, however. “The best days are the rubbish ones, when you don’t think it about it too much, you just bang it all out and press ‘post’.”
One rather unusual aspect of the award was that there was no prize. “I didn’t win anything. Everyone kept asking me, ‘what did you win?’ I won kudos. I can tell them that on the school run.”
But she is mightily proud of her achievement, and while she jokes that her husband Doug is forever telling her ‘you’re not funny’, she feels like she has proved herself.
“The day was a bit of a blur, to be honest. From a liberal feminist point of view, it made me feel empowered, like we can do anything, it’s all worthwhile, I’ve got a voice.”
Funnily enough, the day before the awards her computer broke down. “It’s horrible not having my laptop. I’d like to say it’s liberating, and that I’m playing with the kids on the floor and all that.
“But no, it’s like having a limb cut off.”