Is sibling sex okay? The Third Swindon Think Slam!

19 May

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Armed with my three times three minute think pieces, the Third Swindon Festival of Literature Think Slam! began.

I was one of eight contestants, ready to launch their thoughts, arguments and philosophical musings on the Swindon Art Centre audience yesterday.

And, as it turned out, hopelessly outgunned!

Poetry slamming impresario Sara-Jane Arbury hosted the event for the first time. Seeming a little out of her comfort zone, she still brought a touch of glamour and lightness to the proceedings, not to mention some great poetry to while away the score counting. Come back next year, Sara-Jane.

The contestants tested our brains and stretched our minds with these questions and ideas (apologies if I’ve missed the point anywhere):

  • We can’t rely on instinct in determining right and wrong.
  • Let’s vote for ‘none of the above’.
  • The state should run the welfare state, not social enterprise.
  • Inequality is bad for the market economy.
  • Is pleasure the aim of life at the expense of reality?
  • Create your own reality.
  • Tax uniformity.
  • Can we let our conscience be our guide?
  • You have to earn enlightenment.
  • Is violence in our genes?
  • Tax people who stay in the same job and prepare them for inevitable change.
  • Theologians are more relevant and influential than scientists.
  • Language gives meaning to life.
  • And the winning Think Slam from second time champion John Little: is it wrong to sleep with your brother or sister?

I was impressed by the weight of argument, the name dropping of philosophers and the reasoning shown. My Think Slam! call to vote for None of the Above at elections (not in this event of course) was lightweight in comparison. Well someone had to come last and I’m glad I lost with conviction! So presentation two and three will have to wait for another year.

And tips for next year? (And as the wooden spoon winner I felt I learned the most…)

  • Sex wins, even in a Think Slam!…
  • …but, only in the context of a clever, well thought out argument, backed up with facts.
  • Don’t be frightened to read your speech (though I would have preferred a bit more eye contact from some of the slammers) if you’re not confident at memorising three minutes. The winners did.
  • Good performances are great but no substitute for a brilliant argument.
  • Come up with something, in the words of 2012 Think Slam! judge, Roman Krznaric, that is ‘unsettling, thought provoking’ and will mess with the minds of your audience.
  • Hone your philosophical skills at the Swindon Philosophy Society. Both finalists are members.

The photographs of all the contestants (except me, hah) are at

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