THE end of November and beginning of December is a period traditionally referred to by freelancers as ‘The Dead Zone’.

It is little too early to start celebrating Christmas with company parties – they normally take place in the working week before December 25 – but most of the coast starts to wind down as the Festive Season approaches. If you are an autonomo, you will also know that is the time that you have to get in any monies owed before Christmas.

Otherwise, you will have to wait until February to get paid, as businesses don’t start operating officially until after Three Kings and, if you are still chasing cash, you are more than likely to be met with the response that the accounts department and/or managing director is skiing in Sierra Nevada.

The national holidays on December 6 and 8 also add to that Twilight Zone feeling, but this year I have noticed that the beautiful people of Marbella have come up with a new way to fill the time. The Gala Awards Dinner.

The past few weeks I have noticed half a dozen awards ceremonies taking place some of them formal (chambers of commerce) some a little less so (magazines) and some more than a little baffling (radio stations that play back to back music with no presenters).

While I have no doubt that some of the above do award, as it said on one invitation that landed with a flourish in my inbox ‘the most outstanding in Marbella’, there are others that make me raise a cynical eyebrow a la Roger Moore.

‘Best Hotel’ is normally something of a giveaway – if the hotel that is hosting the event does not win – which it invariably does – I have often wondered if the general manager would storm the stage and order everybody out.

One way to get around that particular problem is to have so many categories that everybody presents wins. So you have ‘Best Fusion Restaurant’, ‘Best International Restaurant’, ‘Best Placement of the Bread Basket’, ‘Best Placed Shelf in the Men’s Cubicles’, (that’s normally a magazine award) etc.

A celebrity of some description normally gives out the awards and is duly photographed with all the winners, though you have to be careful. At one event the organizers had flown in a presenter from BBC4  (who nobody knew).

She started the evening by announcing ‘Good Evening Mar– BELL- a’, at which point the press table rolled their eyes at the mispronunciation and one wag remarked loudly: “Why have they bothered to fly a bimbo over when we have hundreds to choose from here?”

Mind you, one has to be careful not to be too cynical on the press table at these things. At one event a female colleague and myself were busy taking the proverbial about the whole proceedings. Imagine the ensuing hilarity that resulted when she won a special award for ‘Services to Marbella media’ or some such…