I'm not going to Cheltenham this year.
I've been for the last two years, and it's a great experience. I'm sure everyone going next week will have a great time.
So, why not me?
Mainly, I was worried about whether I'd have the time. I've been given this fantastic opportunity to write three BBC shows this year, and I don't want to cock it up. It all went a bit pear-shaped on Casualty, so it really doesn't make sense to go and spend three days of mild inebriation in Cheltenham when the second draft of EastEnders is needed.
But also ,when the flyers first started coming around, I got a slight sense of deja vu. It was the same old speakers on the same old topics. At that stage, the programme seemed a bit light. I'm really not interested in the Code of Practice (yawn). And I don't need another inspirational talk from Julian Fellowes (wonderful, though he is).
I was tempted by the presence of Terry Pratchett. But it would have caused me pain. I love his books and have a complete shelf-full. But the cartoon version of his Witches books was terrible. And the Sky productions of The Hogfather and The Colour of Magic were some of the worst television storytelling I have ever witnessed - truly awful. So, did I really want to squirm in my seat when one of my hero novelists reveals his screenwriting feet of clay?
Also, there didn't seem much emphasis on TV - a complaint of mine from last year. It all seemed to be about how to get your first film script made. Well, that's not me anymore. I'd love to get a film made, but I'm very happy with the steps I've made into television and could quite easily see myself having a happy screenwriting career without ever giving another thought to the cinema.
So, I decided to give it a rest this year.
But, as the event gets closer, and the rest of the programme firms up, I begin to wish I had the time. There's Barbara Machin (twice), Tony Jordan, Kay Mellor and Lucy Prebble. There's Jane Tranter and Laura Mackie. And there's David Lemon and David Bishop (worth the ticket price for these two alone!).
And Julian Fellowes, of course!
But there'll be no Paul Campbell this year. I hope it goes well. Hope the weather holds. Hope you all have fun.
See you in 2009.