Deck the halls with boughs of atheism. The ironically godlike Robin Ince is once again curating a run of gigs at London’s splendid Bloomsbury Theatre in December: The Return of Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. Except this year, it runs for five nights: 15-19 December. Tickets are now on sale, even though the bill is not finalised. Buy them anyway. It’s like Glastonbury: the bill is of secondary importance. Robin will definitely be on. Last year, I was honoured to be placed on the bill alongside … that’s physically alongside if not comedically or musically or professionally … the likes of Tim Minchin, Stewart Lee, Josie Long, Phill Jupitus, Ricky Gervais, Luke Haines, Robyn Hitchcock and many, many more (and Richard Herring), and enjoyed every greasepaint-smelling minute of both nights, onstage and off. I took it on the chin that I was not chosen to play the added date at what I still call the Hammersmith Odeon – I think it would have been a bit surreal anyway, and I may have suffered from the live performance bends: too much, too fast, too soon. (Although I had played the Bloomsbury before, when David Quantick, Stuart Maconie and I supported Lloyd Cole in 2003: a surreal moment in all our lives, and one which laid to rest the preposterous notion that Lloyd has no sense of humour.)
Robin is still in the process of putting the bill together, and put the call out on 6 Music yesterday for suggestions for musical guests, but he has confirmed that I will be appearing on Thursday December 17, and possibly other nights, too, if they don’t get too crowded. But these bills are not about individuals – even last year’s surprise star guest, Ricky Gervais – they are about the cumulative effect of atheistic joy and song. You don’t have to be one of them there militant atheists to get in, either. I’m certainly not one. And proceeds go to the Rationalist Association, who put out New Humanist magazine, which, unlike many militant atheists, has a sense of humour. And a sense of human.