Why I turned down Dawkins as I decided to talk to Jesus – philosophy jazz and oatcakes

We need a better quality of silence. Yesterday, everything was too loud. Even the quiet areas had the rustling and fidgeting turned up to the annoyance of an unreachable itch beneath plaster. They should cut down on comedy clubs and build silence clubs, but build them quietly. There is comedy everywhere, silence is in decline. The Silent club would have a selection of acts, some former monks, others theoretical physicists, some just gifted amateurs in the skill of bring quietness. They would be introduced by the vague sound and motion of an autumn wind, then stand peacefully center stage. As the peace descended, the sound of blinking would become voluble. Some acts would have bad nights. “Saw this guy, he was 18 minutes in, but then his knee clicked. Really lost the crowd. they whispered him off”.
I suppose what I am really after is the commercialisation of Quaker meeting houses.

The noise of everything and everyone and all the mechanised world was making me irritable yesterday. I have been in an irritable frame of mind for a few days. The change of seasons brings it on. When Summer terms to Autumn, my body signals the change through a bout of eczema. When Spring changes to Summer mugginess, it will be a week long headache. My brain feels under pressure. It is not really a proper headache, more an awareness of the existence of my head, combined with a difficulty of both finding words and bothering to use them. My inner monologue seeks a hammock. In the mugginess, the thought process is turgid. Tired, possible sentences inelegantly form like malformed decoration coming from the icing bag of an ancient, arthritic baker.

My impostor syndrome was boisterous yesterday.

A phone meeting with the organisers of a corporate I can actually do (please don’t tell me the British Dental Association is actually a wing of British Aerospace Weapons development. “oh yes, they design exploding torture incisors and spread their Marathon Man agonies across the world to any despot who’ll pay”).

Then, a conversation about a hoped for US tour of Infinite Monkey Cage, and a discussion about a new horror story anthology. I met Elf Lyons to talk of comedy and festivals for her dissertation. My mouth opens and closes long before my conscious mind is aware of what I am saying ( a similar process to stand up), then on to the BBC to talk about a documentary series on the history of the self help industry. On each occasion, would a thread be caught and the unraveling occur to reveal the charlatan behind the rag doll?

Finally, I went to Jesus College, Oxford after being invited to do a speech by their chaplain. I always remind people that I am no philosopher, sophist, expert or theologian, and once I am certain they are certain, I am happy to go along and talk quickly in frequent non-sequiturs and mangled paragraphs of multiple meanings or none. It was this invitation that meant i had to turn down interviewing Richard Dawkins at Cheltenham Science Festival. “Sorry, Richard but I have to talk to Jesus.”
(and it looks like I missed a humdinger. Apparently, Richard Dawkins walked around the stage stamping on all the fairies and then wrestled a gnome to the ground, before repeatedly kissing a line of toads and shouting, “see, it’s not a bloody prince.” or possibly not as it seems the newspapers reporting may have been less than accurate)

I have never eaten asparagus under such an expansive portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. Then, I stood before a group theology and philosophy students, with a smattering of vicars and tutors, and talked of Higgs and Hopes and Darwin and doubt. Being surrounded by wise people, I found myself standing by oatcakes attempting to argue about probable versus definite moral codes, and whether humanism makes it impossible for an is to become an ought.

Could you see still see my eyebrows above the waves?

My Syrian taxi driver, seeing me waved off by a chaplain, talked of his religion on the A41 to Aylesbury, and we discussed optimism and pessimism and the human condition, which was far better than the taxi driver who told me of the ABH charge after his visit to the fairground. 

Tour dates in Newport, Swansea, Glasgow, Newcastle, Salford, Hull, plus Autumn dates up too. All details HERE

3 hour stand up DVD of cut up and mash up ideas available HERE

AND my Edinburgh fringe solo show is HERE

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