The moment came at last for the winner to be announced. A boy was called out to open the envelope. He seemed to take forever. At last he tugged and ripped it open and said, "It's Kiss the Dust." I was taken completely by surprise. Too late, I realised that I hadn't prepared a speech and that my vest was showing. I managed to babble something and turned to face about twelve cameras which all flashed together like a giant crackling sparkler.

  The finalists then had to pose for ages for photographs. Our smiles became fixed.

  "I'm getting repetitive strain injury in my cheeks," said Sally Griffin.

  "Think of something funny," said Dick King-Smith. "Mrs Thatcher fell in a cow-pat."

  We all roared with laughter.

  "In New Zealand," I said, "you say 'kiwi', not 'cheese'."

  "If this photographer doesn't buck up," said Dick King-Smith, "I'll be saying 'wee-wee'."