Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Speed dating with pigeons

I've never been very good at choosing birthday presents, and asking for cheese has usually been a safe bet. This year however, I picked an 'Experience' card, and I was bought one of these by Rob and Amelia.

The School of Life is a shop cum university institution in north London, which offers 'ideas to live by' through an exciting array of courses, seminars and in this case, conversation meals.

Basically, the concept of these improvisatory feasts is that you turn up to a restaurant alone or with friends, you get mixed up (physically, not mentally), and you make conversation with strangers. I suppose you could call it a subtle form of speed dating. The meal was set at a fantastic restaurant in north London, called the Konstam. The restaurant is unique in that 85% of the menu is sourced from within the M25 network. I had pigeon, which I assume was fresh from Trafalgar Square.

Each of the 4 courses was different in terms of the stranger sat opposite, as well as the topics of conversation, which were all determined by a 'Conversation Menu'. Being relatively young compared to my fellow raconteurs, it was particularly interesting tackling the questions 'When did you stop being a child?' or 'What do you find it easier to talk about as you grow older?' but it was great to compare respective similarities and upbringings.

Pudding was accompanied by the task of narrating some pretty obscure postcards, which was an exciting challenge considering their quite obscure nature and the tipsy company.

I would definitely recommended this experience if you want a good meal out, to make spontaneous conversation with random strangers or even simply to try out the magnificent marmalade Champagne.


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