Destination: England: London
5 x 15
The latest craze among the intellectual set are talks designed for our attention-weary times. Five speakers are given fifteen minutes to riff on a meaty topic. As the New York Times remarked, “5×15’s packed soirees feel like an evening of offline, communal surfing, it’s due as much to the eclectic menu of speakers as to the short time allotted.” In October, Geordie Grieg, the former editor of Vanity Fair UK, is speaking on breakfasting with Lucian Freud. Past speakers include author and Gagosian potter Edmund de Waal, Serpentine Director Julia Peyton-Jones, designer Nicky Haslam and author Salman Rushdie.
For those seeking some intellectual buzz, Intelligence Squared is where the London cognoscenti flock for a bit of brain food. The evening debates last ninety minutes and not only are the topics relevant and wide-ranging but the sparring speakers are prominent and know their stuff. Attendees of these debates vote on the topic du jour upon entrance and then votes are retaken at the end to see just how persuasive the debaters were. The topic of the recent debate I attended was “Churchill was more of a liability than an asset to the free world.” Of the six debaters, three were particularly witty and sharp; ex-presidential hopeful Pat Buchanan (for the motion) was quite provocative in his anti-Churchill stance, while historians Antony Beever and Andrew Roberts had the crowds laughing and applauding they were so good. Held at the Royal Geographical Society in Kensington tickets costs $40.
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