Published on Style Bible!
My by-line is up and hopefully this will last longer than the requisite 15 minutes.
Am published, am loving it, and am on a roll. Style Bible posted my piece on the School of Life and I love the fact that a dinner I attended, after having read about it in the press (Telegraph Magazine) lead to a feature.
I am covering London Jewellery Week for Style Bible this week – so get the bubbly and gems merging into a lucid couple of words please.
‘What is your most surprising fear, and where does it come from?’ was up for discussion during the first course.
A welcome cocktail had been thrust my way just moments ago, as I apprehensively joined a table of strangers who were sharing their views on the various aphorisms, or amuse-bouches, which were printed on laminated cards. Guests were under strict rules to focus on what was written on the cards, rather than veer towards predictable topics, such as the nightmare tube journey to the restaurant or the weather!
To admit that I am a sucker for novelties in the world of networking, would be an understatement, however this dinner retained my attention – and that of my fellow guests – until long after the coffees had been served. Chair-swapping between each course was encouraged, so as to mingle with as many people in the room. The delicious dessert course culminated in the newly formed group pontificating on, ‘how will our culture change in the next 100 years?’
I was at a Conversation Dinner, a regular on the curriculum at The School of Life. Established in 2008, The School was founded by Alain de Botton and Sophie Howarth (former curator of the Tate Modern), offering programmes for grown-ups who are instinctively curious, enjoy the process of thought and relish stimulating conversation. The founders’ intention was to create a modern-day apothecary for ‘pupils’ to come to be treated for common ailments of our zeitgeist, ie. jobs, relationships, personal philosophical dilemmas and so on. The School is based in Bloomsbury, with a retail space bursting with an inspirational offering of literature and prose.
De Botton and Howarth are no strangers to the power of words, concluding that in adulthood, our thirst for learning must be regularly quenched. Random yet like-minded strangers are offered a programme of Conversation Dinners, secular ‘Sunday Sermons’, Evening Classes, the Breakfast Club (sessions run weekdays for an hour, 7:30am) and Weekends (in London and outside). The Sunday Sermons were launched with the following in mind, ‘in the old days most of us looked to religion for direction on how to live. Now we flick through the Sunday papers or surf the net, finding little by way of good counsel’. Workshops include, ‘How To Be A Good Friend’, ‘How To Be Cool’, ‘How Necessary is a Relationship?’, ‘How To Have Better Conversations’, ‘How To Be Alone’, ‘How To Make a Difference’. The evening classes are led by VIP guest speakers, with a maximum of 30 per class, for people with busy lifestyles to meet new people, enjoy, relax and unwind, with wine and a bite.
Current Director Morgwn Rimel, (during Howarth’s maternity leave), says, ‘we forget to feed our soul at the weekend, turn your off-time into on-time…we have forgotten how to be free….we need to embrace our creativity in spite of how accomplished we are’. She is currently organising summer ‘play weekends’ where students are invited ‘to be more judgemental with yourselves, open up a little more’. One idea is a full day of urban gardening, a ‘taste voyage of epicuriosity’ headed by Tom Hodgkinson, of ‘The Idler’.
The ratio of women to men is usually 70:30 for the evening classes, while the monthly sermons are 50:50, with 400-500 people attending.
The School of Life is a nutritious chicken soup for the soul of the Noughties. In a refreshing take on the world which in no way preaches, the School advises us to grab a brief moment out of our daily schedule and re-awaken our dormant minds. In these times of increasing uncertainty, punters are offered a menu of programmes that curate ideas and process them, in a manner which is intelligent, thought–provoking and far from laden with psycho-babble. And Stylebible can whole heartedly reccomend that you give this new found way of thinking a go – who knows what you might come away with?