What a soothing yet stimulating way to spend a Sunday. I had wanted to try Sunday Papers Live for quite some time, but had been put off a little by the cost, and also having to keep a Sunday free when I’m out until the early hours all the time.
I’m glad I finally made it. A friend of mine who goes frequently warned us to get there early for a decent spot – advice we didn’t completely listen to. When I turned up at just before 2, I was lucky to be able to find a spot to slot into down on the floor by my friend’s sofa. Apparently sofa hogging is the scourge of the event but with everyone doing it, you have no choice but to try to nab your spot and defend it through the event. This is because everything happens in the one room more or less. I expected the various talks to be spread over a few rooms, necessitating in circulating through the venue and there being a flow of empty seats. But apart from the bar and food area, there’s no reason really to leave the main room, which is set up in the round and populated with sofas, cushions and blankets. Pyjamas, and other Sunday-like pursuits (I saw someone embroidering) are encouraged.
And then once you have your nook, you basically just sit back and take it all in. The day is divided into sections of the paper with a different speaker being the ‘guest editor’ for that section. They get some amazing names. In ‘Style’ we had Rose McGowan reading from her book Brave, in UK News James O’Brien and Jolyon Rubinstein debated the current state of the world. Andy Zaltzman provided some comic relief on ‘World News’ and Jeanne Socrates who recently sailed around the world, solo, at the age of 77 was the editor for the Travel section. Of course, some of these talks will appeal more than others, and if you do fancy a break, then you can go downstairs and get a Sunday roast, or pop outside to get something more brunchy from Le Swine (where bloody marys could also be found).
In between the talks there is music provided by the Debt Collectors, piano-based, folksy kinda music. Nothing too taxing on the mind, just pleasant, toe-tapping music. And to add a bit of interactivity, there were three rounds of the Crossword. Son and Sons get on stage and act out the clues to the crossword in your newspaper (which doubles as the programme). That is surprisingly silly and fun. They also run the pub quiz that happens in the bar area which is about 45 minutes’ worth of quiz and the right level of challenge without being too serious.
It's a shame they only happen twice a year but I can see they would need a lot of time to put together something of this magnitude.