Wed 21st August, Kino Teatr

Review by Andrew Myers

Full disclosure – I am a Bavard addict. The third Wednesday of the month has been a highlight of my (admittedly rather threadbare) social calendar for the last two years. I may even have given a couple of talks there myself. So reader be warned, this review makes no claim to impartiality. With that disclaimer, let it be known that Wednesday’s edition of the Bavard bar was an absolute corker!

It was a joy to see a packed house for Wednesday’s show. The Bavard Bar has built up a crowd of devoted regulars, but judging from the number of first timers, the Bavard is in no danger of becoming cliquey or a little too cosy.

The lack of reserved seating at the Kino brings with it certain pitfalls. A complete stranger asked me to hold two seats for them – a bit of a cheeky ask, but a mission I undertook with grace and rigour. Having fended off six unlucky punters, I glanced across the auditorium only to see the very instigator of the request sitting quite comfortably with her friends. A measure of the lengths to which people will go in order to get their Bavard fix.

Cole Moreton
Photo: Eddie-the-Lens

One of the key attractions of the Bavard bar is the element of unpredictability. Past talks have been on subjects as varied as taxidermy, autism, the sounds of outer space and the politics of Tintin. Founder, host and compère Tim B’vard keeps the topics secret until the night. So the evening tends to attract an open minded and accepting audience.

It’s hugely to Tim’s credit that he has nurtured the conditions in which people feel able to share sensitive topics. One previous speaker has shared her experience of losing a breast to cancer, another of the challenges of maintaining a satisfactory sex life after the age of sixty.

The quality and consistency of the talks has steadily increased to the point where a night at the BB is not quite the gamble it used to be. Such was the calibre of the speakers on Wednesday that the evening could quite easily have been broadcast live.

Tim assures me, however, that less polished speakers should never be deterred from having a go. Indeed, part of the charm of the BB is the sense that for some Bavarders, it might be the first time they’ve done anything like it.

Cognitive scientist Dr Alistair Goode kicked off proceedings with a highly entertaining talk on ‘Big Willies,’ which amazingly only contained a single knob joke. It was quintessential Bavardry, in that what at first seemed like a frivolous topic actually ended up covering some pretty in-depth territory: heuristics, mental short cuts, prejudice, racism, fear of the outsider. Top marks for a talk full of, er, penetrating insights.

Dr Alistair Goode
Photo: Eddie-the-Lens

On to the second speaker. Illustrator and comic writer Myfanwy Tristram. Tristram’s Draw the Line project brings together over 100 comic artists to share actions anyone can take to make a positive difference in the world – from signing a petition or writing to your MP, to making an extra portion of food to share with a neighbour. 

The best Bavards inspire people to actually do something new, and after Myfanwy’s talk, two women from St Leonards were moved to form a new chapter of the Raging Grannies, who describe themselves as “elderly women who use their innocuous looks to wreak havoc.” More on this story as it develops!

Myfanwy Tristram
Photo: Eddie-the-Lens

And so to the grand finale, writer Cole Moreton’s highly moving account of the Beachy Head Chaplains – volunteers who patrol the cliffs and try to prevent people from committing suicide. They saved around 800 lives last year alone. 

As might be expected of an audience who make a point of spending their free time listening to others, there is a certain left-liberal political consensus at the Bavard Bar, particularly on the topic of Brexit. But we don’t always want to be listening to stuff we agree with, and there was a welcome note of challenge from one audience member on the point of the attitude of ‘Remainers’ towards Leave voters.

Speaking of making a difference, the Bavard audience raised a staggering £256.53 to help fund gender reassignment surgery for ‘Eddie-the-Lens,’ who for the last two years has filmed the Bavard talks. Eddie is now off to University, which means there is now a vacancy for ‘camera person’ at the Bavard – get in touch with Tim.

The next Bavard is at the Printer’s Playhouse in Eastbourne on 5th September, and it returns to the Kino on Wednesday 18th September. I have it on good authority that it’s going to be another belter. See you there. 

Follow the Bavard Bar on twitter: @bavardbar

Cole Morton’s debut novel The Light Keeper is available now.

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