August Assembly Write-up

This month’s Sunday Assembly was dedicated to the first of its three tenets: live better*. Our host for the day was Alex, who glued together the various segments with erudition and humour and raised the bar uncomfortably high for the poor sap who has agreed to take on the role next time (though I will give it my best).

First up, after the initial songs, was Allan, master of a thousand voices. He entertained us with a collection of comic verses on the day’s theme, some of which were surprisingly poignant.

After that was the keynote speech by Shobita, who is an enthusiastic participant in the world of inline skating. The community around this hobby is large and international, and takes her away to competitions across Europe. To those of us who are reaching an age in which balancing on one’s unadorned feet is a constant challenge, it all seemed frighteningly difficult and dangerous. But it is hard to beat the vicarious joy of seeing young folk having such wholesome fun. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the live display of slalom tricks, performed by Shobita’s partner-in-line, Tim.

Up next, in the ‘Doing His Best’ slot, was your friendly neighbourhood scribe, who exercised his love of word-play to the vast amusement of himself (for which he was subsequently pun-ished by his son).

During the two minutes’ silence, the congregation was invited to reflect upon the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing at the end of the Second World War, which had taken place almost exactly 70 years ago. The collection plate was then passed round, and subsequently we were able to make a £50 donation to REMAP, a charity that exists to help disabled people have a better life.

After some more songs, in which the congregation stared in bemused awe at Shantanu’s move-busting chops, Gush wrapped things up for us with his final address. And then we were able, at last, to move onto the most important meal of the day: one shared with friends. The main chefs here were Sue and Vicky, with additional cakes added by Ali: our heartfelt thanks to them all.

And if there was one lesson to be drawn from the whole experience, it was that living better can involve a monthly meet-up with a disparate and loving bunch of folk who are building a community together.

*Of course, there are some problems with the tenet ‘live better’. For instance, an irascible curmudgeon who wants to keep his life miserable – let’s call him ‘Bruce’ – might satisfy the requirement by bettering his life at only a snail’s pace. So perhaps the tenet ought instead to be live well? But then a privileged but idle person, who is already living well – let’s call him ‘Ewan’ – would gain no encouragement to improve his lucky situation. So maybe it should read something more like improve your life at the greatest possible rate, all things considered? But then that’s hard to fit on a T-shirt. So it’s basically swings and roundabouts.

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