London Sunday with Amanda Palmer and Impromptu Parties


The kids and I staggered off to London, early on Sunday morning to go and see Amanda Palmer, who had been invited by The School of Life to do a sermon on what motherhood has taught her. It took place at The Conway Hall in Holborn, somewhere I’ve walked past plenty of times, but never actually been in, until yesterday.

We got off to a great start when I remembered that The Fleet River Bakery, one of my favourite spots to eat cake, was just around the corner. We made sure we arrived early to have a second breakfast before sermonising began. We also took the opportunity to hook up with our friend Alex, and a huge variety of his friends, all of whom had also come to see Amanda do her thing.

The school of life talks are a bit like sermons, but rather like sermons you wish you went to, rather than the way most ones are, if you see what I mean?

We started off by singing Tears for Fears, Mad World, accompanied by Amanda on piano. Then we got down to the meat of the matter in which she sang and spoke and laughed and entertained and made us think, all in one go. She was accompanied, on the sidelines by her nine month old baby, Ash, who thought the whole thing was as splendid as we did, and who proceeded to eat chairs, giggle and pull his father (Neil Gaiman. Yes. That Neil Gaiman)’s hair until it was a wonder it was still attached to his head.

The sermon finished with us and Amanda singing Purple Rain by Prince, and then she came out and chatted and signed ukuleles and books and programmes and was absolutely lovely and generous with her time. The children were smitten. I was already smitten. Can one be smittener?

After our souls were full of nourishment, we realised our second breakfast had worn off, and went to our favourite Italian restaurant on Lamb’s Conduit Street to eat vast quantities of pasta.

It was then obligatory to stagger across to Corams’ Fields where Oscar joined a game of basketball and the girls and I sat in the afternoon sunshine and watched him run around like a loon.

We had time to do a little wandering after the game, and found a wonderful community garden called The Calthorpe Project, tucked between two rows of houses. It is beautiful. There is a cafe with a sedum sown roof, which was being used for a very friendly birthday party in which we got swept up. There is a fantastic children’s play park with climbing areas and ping pong tables and tree houses. Oscar made friends immediately, and still not worn out by basketball, proceeded to play a very lively game of ping pong, which included a lot of patting people on the cheek with bats and laying sprawled out on the table when things got a bit much.

There were allotments and raised beds being tended by people from the houses around. An elderly Indian lady was weeding her potato patch in an indigo sari. A young girl was looking after runner beans and a man in the most amazing tribal pattern kaftan was tending banana palms. The children from the party ran around offering lumps of cake, and we sat in the middle of it all, soaking up the sunshine and just being allowed to be a part of the life that was running on all around us. It felt like a blessing.

It was what every Sunday should be like.


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