What a singular honour - to be named Spectator Cigar Writer of the Year at this week's bash at Boisdale Canary Wharf.
And what a bash it was - 'sleb' spotting at its height with the marionette-like Nancy Dellolio teetering around, Duran Duran frontman Simon le Bon grinning wolfishly and former Starsky and Hutch star David Soul enjoying the hospitality enormously.
After a humongous C.Gars Ltd auction and a truly fine meal with libations, the crowd were a little, ahem shall we say, happy. So by the time it came to the end of dinner awards, Spectator Chairman Andrew Neil had to bellow to be heard above the hubbub.
I was delighted to see Edward Sahakian on hand to pick up the award for Best Retailer Award for Davidoff of London, he's such a gent. Hunters & Frankau won Best Supplier, The Wellesley and The Lanesborough both picked for Terrace of the Year. I won Cigar Writer of the Year and finally, Monseur le Bon stepped up to receive a fancy Jean Richard watch and a humidor of smokes for winning Cigar Smoker of the Year.
It's not easy being a cigar writer. Many publications will happily write about Scotch but shy away when cigars are mentioned, unwilling to upset the sensitivities of their readers. When you do find a publisher, the rewards are scanty until you become established.
But cigars mean an awful lot to me. They have given me solace in hard times and punctuated the great moments in my life. They offer peace and reflection in a busy world, have taken me around the world, introduced me to many friends and amazing people.
Kudos to The Spectator for sticking its head above the parapet and putting its name to these awards. Let's hope others are man enough to do the same and acknowledge that there are a fair few, lawful, decent people who enjoy a fine, handrolled cigar and who not wish to be admonished, punished, ridiculed or legislated against because of it.