As a working-from-home freelance writer, I try to get out as much as possible in the evenings; meaning, if you invite me to go somewhere, I’ll probably accept.
But, despite quiz nights, gigs, lectures, cinema and the ever-reliable pub, there are still weeks where I hardly go out at all. Like last week.
Then, you’ll get an evening like yesterday, where I had two bookings in one evening: one, an enlightening conversation between Stephen Fry and Steven Pinker, and, immediately after, Martin Carr playing live at the Borderline.
It felt like an excellent balance of head and heart.
The two Steves, Fry and Pinker, spent 90 minutes discussing how the Enlightenment, Europe and the West’s move towards rationality, away from religion, dogma, and superstition, gave us the comfort, safety, and freedom we take for granted today, and asking why, with the election of Trump in the US and the vote for Brexit here in the UK, we seem almost to be abandoning those values.
The event was completely sold out, which was reassuring to see, and on leaving I think everyone there felt at least five IQ points cleverer, if not more, just by being in the same room as that discussion.
It was also reassuring to hear Pinker once more discuss some of his research, which suggests that, despite some appearances to the contrary, modern life is the best it’s ever been for most people. Don’t believe me? Read his previous book, The Better Angels Of Our Nature, or his latest one, Enlightenment Now.
Having gained five IQ points from such an erudite discussion I felt safe to sacrifice some brain cells having a few drinks and joining my good friend Liz to watch the lovely Martin Carr play live at the Borderline – which has been renovated a lot since I was last there, especially the corridor to the toilets, which looks ace, but is a bit confusing when sober, let alone after a few drinks.
Martin was the creative force behind one of my favourite bands, The Boo Radleys. He’s always resisted the temptation to put the band back together for a nostalgia tour and, as much much as I’d love to hear some of those incredible songs live again, I have huge respect for his stance on always moving forward (and his latest album, New Shapes Of Life, is very good).
I saw Martin play late last year and
cornered him had a lovely chat afterward in the downstairs bar. Isn’t it nice when your musical heroes turn out to be lovely people – even if their fans can sometimes look a bit scary!