#Tweetingit – Fun, entertaining, cerebral, and the Bloody Marys were awesome. This is nothing less than the ultimate Sunday.
What do you think of when you think of Sundays when you were younger? A lie in, a morning walk/play, Sunday roast followed by sitting in front of the TV, mum napping while the kids and dad play some games, maybe a little debate or row about whether you got your M$200 for passing Go, and then Corrie and Heartbeat?
In my experience, this stays about the same when you’re an adult except you add a hangover, some good wine with the roast and the overwhelming feeling that you’ve achieved nothing or wasted the day after lazing around in the morning and lolling in front of the TV in the evening. Well, feel bad no more. You can relax on a sofa (bed or futon) and have all of these things (less the bad soaps) and feel like your day hasn’t been wasted, with Sunday Papers Live.
Trying to explain the concept of this to people has been harder than I thought. Basically it is a big living room where the news of the day (the highbrow stuff, don’t expect too much about TOWIE or Hollywood) is brought to life by actors, musicians, speakers, performers, politicians & poets. Tackled for this edition were travel, world news, politics, literature and sport – with the main focus of it all being the dreaded EU Referendum and that awful phrase, Brexit. Some of the talks were silly, some serious, some made us angry and some got emotions flowing.
I can imagine that foreigners would be very confused about this seemingly bizarre day. Hundreds of people sat in a big room, lounging on mismatched furniture in their slippers, some with a dog, some with a baby, others completing their knitting project, a random person in the middle of the room receiving massage, all sipping Bloody Marys at 1pm and listening to debates, talks and comedy about politics – it feels very British/odd – however you want to see it.
There was a great line up – Andy Zaltzman, Rebecca Nicholson, & Serena Kutchinsky tackling the UK news, David Goldblatt on sport and Tim Fitzhigham offering an extremely funny travel story about his attempts to row a bathtub across the English Channel.
Unfortunately, a couple of the speakers were missing – most notably Tariq Ali and Vince Cable – so the content wasn’t as varied as it could’ve been. Having worked in Government (specifically in The Department of Business when Vince Cable was Secretary of State) and recently having seen him on TV talking about Brexit, I was looking forward to hearing him speak. However, his replacement, Ross Ashcroft, was a welcome stand in and the debate between him, the panel and the audience was very entertaining and, at times, fierce. He did a great job of riling the crowd with his staunch pro Brexit comments (I may have heard someone utter the word “piffle”), but perhaps learned a lesson about not making assumptions when dealing with a politically aware audience after suggesting most of the audience hadn’t made their mind up on their EU vote and rapidly getting his backside well and truly handed to him by Vicky Pryce (who did a fabulous job of sitting and waiting for the prime moment to cut him down with a single sentence.) Many of my friends were chuntering away in a very British way, just loud enough to be heard by us but not quite loud enough to amount to a heckle.
A lot of the “debate” did appear to be presented in a left-wing “we are right and you are wrong” way which closed down all real conversation, but in a bohemian, North London crowd they’re probably playing to their audience. A speech from a Syrian asylum seeker seemed to split the audience a little with his emotive story – the narrative clearly very difficult for him to tell (he fled in a boat which ultimately sunk resulting in many women and children dying) – making it very difficult to ask valid questions about the situation he found himself in for fear of coming across as uncaring or, dare I say it, racist.
Andy Zaltzman appeared twice (the second, I think, was an unexpected stand in spot- although you would never have guessed) for which I was very grateful. His intelligent stand-up about everything from Brexit to cricket was quite brilliant. When he still had some time left to fill, he even offered the audience the chance to suggest topics for him to discuss, never faltering or having difficulties in coming up with hilarious come backs.
Alongside the topical debate were walks, including a couple by the “Bulls*it” team – providing guided walks with nonsense facts about the surrounding areas, Sons&Sons offering some light entertainment with a charade crossword, a lonely hearts column, pub quiz and human Sudoku, and Chill Pill writing personalised poetry style letters to anyone and about anything you wanted. We were treated to a poetry slam later in the day which included a couple of these letters. Not someone who is hugely “into” poetry, I found myself completely sucked in during Chill Pill’s (joined by Ben Norris for this event) performance. Many of their poems really seemed to resonate with the audience; they were modern, relevant and touching and I have found myself looking them up on YouTube. I would highly recommend you do the same!
Although I didn’t see a lot of the other stuff outside of the main hall, I heard reports back that it was all a lot of fun. There was a big group of us (I added this to my 30th birthday events and there were 11 of us there) and if we all left our carefully found spot in the main hall, we would’ve lost it and never found anywhere to sit again. This is ideal for couples, families or groups of friends who don’t mind scattering. But a big group wanting to stick together may struggle unless you get there early and make sure someone is happy to hold the spot or are happy to find a spot outside and go in as and when something which interests you is on. And this brings us to a couple of (teeny) hiccups on the day around organisation.
The day itself, for me, was great and I, without doubt, will attend again. There were, however, a couple of organisational issues which is surprising since this is the 7th Edition of Sunday Papers. Getting in to the venue took a long time as names were ticked off a list – the tickets we had been emailed seemingly useless and queuing for food was a little chaotic. There were also some fairly big issues around accessibility for those in wheelchairs or with crutches. I do, however, know that the organisers are looking at this for next time.
Back to the positive – I cannot fault the food and drink. Tom Hunt was in charge of the roast which included 5 hour slow roast lamb with balsamic glaze wraps or Grilled Bermondsey halloumi. Yeah go on then! There was also the bold claim that the best Bloody Marys in the universe are served at Sunday Papers Live and having tested a couple or four I would have to agree! Flaming Lips were there to provide a range of Bloody Marys to beat Saturday’s hangover and prepare Monday’s; dangerous doesn’t even come close to it. There were also some healthier options – smoothies and espresso martinis (that counts as healthy right? Coffee is good for you, science says so. Ok, well, it’s not beer)
Rounding the evening off were the Buffalo Skinners, a song writing collective based in Sheffield, whose influence from 60’s Rock n Roll, Folk and Blues is clear. Their close harmonies and beautiful songs were the perfect ending to the day – all made better by the fact we were snuggled up on sofas and sprawled on cushions to watch them. One lucky pair managed to bagsie themselves the pull out bed at the front of the stage and chilled out there with a Bloody Mary – now that is the way to spend a Sunday evening!
Their motto is hail roasts, hail Blood Mary’s, hail Sundays, and I couldn’t agree more. If you aren’t tempted by the above, I question your sanity!
Don’t panic – you haven’t missed your opportunity to go – there are 4 more this summer!
Citadel Destival on July 17th 2016 At Victoria Park, London
Wilderness Festival on 7 August 2016 at Cornbury Park Oxfordshire
#8 Edition on 28 August 2016 at Cecil Sharp House, Regents Park Road, London
#9 Edition on 30 October 2016 at Cecil Sharp House, Regents Park Road, London