A strange outing this weekend. TL was very keen to go to the Sunday Assembly in Holborn, central London. I purposely didn’t Google the whole Sunday Assembly idea before we set off, as I knew it would put me off. I thought it was a kind of extended mindfulness thing (which I am already grappling with), which was bad enough, but it turned out to be the closest to joining a cult I’ll ever get.
I’m afraid I’m such a suspicious person that a crowd of smiling strangers really worries me to the point of genuine alarm. What were they so happy about? I’m from south London, remember, where no one smiles in public unless someone else is getting pooped on by a pigeon. Smiling is something done very sparingly, behind closed doors.
Apparently everyone was very happy just to be there, and thrilled that we newbies had turned up. Everyone was delighted, overjoyed and just generally upbeat. I found it quite confusing. Anyway, we filed into the hall and things started to fit a more recognisable form. It was just like a school assembly, or a church service, but minus the God bit. We were there to feel good about ourselves (all that smiling, again!) and to live better.
Living better started with singing Jailhouse Rock to a full band on the platform with a brave blonde lady singer and a choir. This bit I loved. It was strange to be singing Elvis on a Sunday morning but it was better than the aimless smiling. There came various speaking bits, with a man leading the service (who reminded me of the charismatic preacher guy in Rev, who sets up a smoothie bar in poor Rev’s dusty deserted church), a poet reading her works and a girl talking about justice. It was all terrifically well-meaning but I couldn’t get over my hideous English embarrassment. We sang Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off and Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, which were both jolly, and then attempted to do chatting at the end, which I found very hard.
I think I prefer the actual Church-with-God option. At least everyone there is a bit shamefaced, doubt hangs reassuringly in the air, and smiling is kept within normal bounds. Though the songs could do with a revamp.