Festival of Chichester explores the Importance of humour in challenging times

The irony was that the COVID pandemic gave Sandra Saer’s planned talk at this year’s Festival of Chichester an added relevance.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 10:57 am
Sandra Saer
Sandra Saer

The double irony was that the pandemic then wiped out the Festival.

However, the Festival has now gone online – and Sandra’s talk has become a virtual one: on Monday, July 6, as planned, she will talk about the importance of humour.

As Sandra says, humour is even more important than ever right now. Sandra is calling her talk The Reluctant Teabag, subtitling it How A Sense Of Humour Has Lifted Our Spirits Through The Ages.

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“When I was thinking of talking about this, way before we were not going to have a Festival, I looked down and I saw that I had a Penguin book called Sense of Humour by Stephen Potter which was originally published in 1954. I looked down. It was a yellowed book, and I thought ‘How extraordinary!’ I looked through it and I found all sorts of things.”

And so the talk started to develop in Sandra’s mind. She will talk about Chaucer’s Wife of Bath; BBC Radio’s ITMA; Lear’s Nonsense Poems; G K Chesterton’s comments; Patrick Moore’s Within the Glade; and Harold Nicholson’s Peacemaking 1919. And all under the title The Reluctant Teabag.

“I was feeling quite down in January and I was wandering about the flat, telling myself not to be so stupid. And the words The Reluctant Teabag came into my mind. I thought ‘What on earth is all that about?’ The whole day I was wondering what those words could mean, and I went to bed wondering what those words could mean. And I got up in the morning still thinking about those words and I said to myself that I had got to do something about them. So I wrote the poem The Reluctant Teabag."


I’m a reluctant teabag,

I never asked to be

tossed in a cold mug

for a hot drink of tea.

They yanked me out of the caddy

and threw me in that mug,

as if I were a baddy,

a paper-covered thug.

But I have good news for you:

Hip-hip, hip-hip, hurray -

I was ‘not fit for purpose’,

so they threw me far away!

Here in this deep, dark corner

I hope I’ll ever stay!

“I think the teabag represents anybody that resents not being treated properly and then gets their comeuppance and realises it is all OK.

“You are feeling down and resentful and we don’t want other people controlling ourselves (“yanked me out of the caddy”). But in the end you come out alright. It is about feeling positive.

“I am very positive person. I am a countrywoman. I was brought up in the country, and I brought up my children in the country, at Watersfield, and I brought them up on my own. That was a challenge.

“We are all at the moment looking for the Holy Grail, and the Holy Grail is different for all of us. You just have to be positive. You have to think what your Holy Grail is. A lot of people are now leading different lives, but so many people are helping each other. You think about Captain Moore. What an amazing example. He is not a Reluctant Teabag!

“I am aiming to show to people how important it is to be positive. A lot of people of all ages are finding it hard to be positive. They don’t know what to do with themselves, but we all need just to hang on in there until it gets better, and it will get better. You have got to find ways of looking to see a good life.

“There are people that look in the mirror and see themselves looking elderly and worried. I would say to them ‘Don’t look in the mirror! Cover up every mirror! And get on with your life!’”

Sandra’s event goes live on Mon, July 6 at 7pm ready for enjoying at the traditional 7.30pm event time. Log on at https://festivalofchichester.co.uk/virtual-festival/


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