Friday, January 4, 2013

Godless trip

The weekend before Christmas we always try to get down to London to see the Godless shows, as they are affectionately called. More on that later.

Sunday - early train to London, first class, booked in advance so dead cheap. Walk to hotel, stopping for a sandwich lunch on way. Check in, get lovely warm chocolate cookie from reception (a feature of all Doubletree hotels) and set off for a walk. Towards Covent Garden we saw a group of Pearly kings and Queens - first I've ever seen "in the wild".

Covent Garden looked lovely - all decorated for Christmas, and was obviously very busy.

Managed to do a bit of Christmas shopping and buy some presents, and saw the Jack Daniel's Barrel Tree

There was also a giant lego advent calendar, and loads of street theatre and buskers. My favourite  was not actually a busker, but a homeless person I think who was playing Christmas carols through a traffic cone - and doing it very well and collecting loads of money!

From there we walked to Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus through to Trafalgar Square. Saw the Christmas tree and Menorah in the square, and had a quick look in the National Gallery. We both love the National Gallery - so many beautiful paintings in there.  Then a walk back to the hotel to get ready for the show. We ate at a little Italian place  and then walked to the Bloomsbury Theatre, which is owned by UCL.

Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People is put on by Robin Ince, and originated from an arguement he (as an atheist) had with someone from Christian Voice, who said that atheists couldn't have fun at Christmas. So, determined to prove him wrong, Robin puts on this celebration of science and comedy every year, which always sells out.

We love it. Always slightly anarchic, different people appearing every night depending on when they are free, or whether they just happen to turn up. This year we had Robin, obviously, and a variety of other scienctists and comedians.
 It started with the band, and a laser harp! Very impressive. Laser beams played with white gloved hands.

 Alexei Sayle, turned up unexpectedly, he said he was just passing, and read some of his autobiography:

Richard Herring, in a very ironic Christmas jumper,  talked about his book, Talking Cock. Don't need to explain what it was about, needless to say it was hilarious. So funny that I bought a copy from him at the interval for Stuart for Christmas.

Ben Goldacre, (of Bad Science fame) had a good 20 minute rant about pharmaceutical companies refusing to release all of their clinical trails data. Very interesting, especially when you look at how much money the government spent on Tamiflu during the last flu scare, and yet there is no real published evidence that it works.

There was music from Helen Arney, Grace Petrie and others (can't remember them all), and the mathematician Matt Parker showed us his binary scarf:

as well as solving a rubric cube puzzle in under 3 minutes whilst delivering a stand up routine.

Perhaps the most bizarre act was Baconface, who turned out to be Stuart Lee in a wrestling mask with bacon draped over it.

My favourite bit was from Andrea Sella, Professor of Chemistry at UCL who produced ever increasing sizes of explosions on stage:

You can't beat an explosion for pleasing a roomful of nerds and scientists!

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