Is it too demanding to ask if I can please win a prize for something? A certificate would be nice. A trophy even better. Something to put on my CV, or at hang least on the wall next to the calendar. I had it good for a while. Primary school was one awards presentation after another. Making an effort to help others, listening to instructions, working hard at his maths, I was a kid clearly going places. Sporting glory came next. I have a wooden trinket to prove I was the winner of the Titahi Bay Boating Club P-Class Summer Series 1994. I remember the victory like it was yesterday. I sailed like the wind. I blitzed all challengers. It was easy – I was the only sailor. It was my kind of race.

In the years since I have clocked up no less than two indoor soccer division five winners’ medals. Every time we clean the lounge room (we’re due to again in May) I’m besieged with the same insulting question: ‘Do you think we can put these things in a box in the spare room, maybe?’ These things! Some people have no appreciation for talent.

What about literary awards? I hear you ask. Yes, I’ve tried. Oh, how I’ve tired. Twice, in fact. My motivation to enter usually depends on the quality of prize on offer. I failed to win the Australian Football League’s short story competition, and so missed out on a trip to America. I read the winning entry. It was rubbish. I wrote to the organisers and said, ‘This is a crock.’ But no correspondence would be entered in to.

I failed to win the Golden Plains Festival double pass plus weekend use of a fancy campervan prize. You had to write why you should win. It should have been obvious. My girlfriend was pregnant, I explained. It was quite probably my doing, and I vowed to make things right. She needed comfort, pillows, an awning, a fridge for the drinks. I didn’t win, but was on the right track. The prize went to someone else who wrote that their partner was pregnant. But they got the name of the festival wrong. I wrote in and explained that this was the most heinous of crocks. But no correspondence would be entered in to.

It was time to play with the big boys. You might not be aware, but last year I was nominated for a Walkley Award. Incidentally I also nominated someone. I thought long and hard about it and nominated myself. The judges thought long and hard and rightly gave the award to someone else.

But why not aim even higher? Australian of the Year was recently awarded to former lieutenant general, David Morrison. He had spent 35 years in the army, and soon after winning our country’s most hokey award was under attack. His house was invaded by journalist John Lyons. Lyons came out guns blazing and demanded to know how much of Morrison’s famous speech calling for cultural change in the army was actually written by him. Everyone knew the answer was bugger all. Morrison bristled and steamed and still had war on the brain. He accused Lyons of being adversarial and worse, a bad house guest. Meanwhile the left grumbled about a white military man winning, the right grumbled about progressives always winning, and no one knew what the hell the award meant or what the responsibilities the poor winner would be required to take on, other than having John Lyons round for lunch.

Maybe awards are more trouble than they’re worth. Maybe we’re too busy just getting on with the drudgery of life to worry about recognition. For many families managing a budget and hoping there’s enough money to pay the car rego or an impending root canal (don’t ask) is the biggest competition of all. Maybe we’re all winners to some extent, regardless of the size of our trophy cabinets. Correspondence will be entered into happily.