Features

Talk yourself better

ariene-1Ariane with Richard Dawkins at the launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign. © Zoe Margolis

Paul Kaufman, Chair of East London Humanists, introduces Ariane Sherine, writer, comedienne and woman of many parts who will feature at the group’s Wanstead meeting this month.

Ariane Sherine, who lives in Leytonstone, will be talking about her extraordinary and eventful life journey and signing copies of her latest book at Wanstead Library this January.

Expelled from school at 16, Ariane started hanging around with Duran Duran and played piano on two of their tracks. Her journalistic career started at 21, reviewing records for NME. She was soon contributing to TV shows,  including Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Countdown, and spent time on the stand-up comedy circuit. She has gone on to write several books and is a contributor to The Spectator, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Times and Esquire magazine.

Ariane has a young daughter and is a patron of Humanists UK. In 2013 she published the ebook Give: How to be Happy. She wrote in The Guardian at its launch about her lack of religious belief and her wish for her daughter to grow up in a kinder world. The book describes 10 practical actions we can all take to help achieve this. Ariane sold half of her possessions as part of the campaign and donated the proceeds to Médecins Sans Frontières.

But perhaps the best-known achievement initiated by Ariane was the Atheist Bus Campaign. Launched in 2009, the campaign grew at an astonishing pace. A total of £100,000 was raised in four days. It was taken up in over a dozen countries. Ariane thought up the campaign in response to the use of bus advertising by the Jesus Said organisation to promote their message that all non-Christians would burn in hell for all eternity. Ariane’s message was: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Even this simple retort was too much for some. It was criticised by George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Attempts to run similar campaigns in Russia, Italy and Australia were thwarted. And there was a backlash for Ariane. The hate mail she received from extreme Christians contributed to a breakdown.

The road to recovery prompted Ariane to write her book Talk Yourself Better: A Confused Person’s Guide to Therapy, Counselling and Self-Help. Reviews include: “What an excellent, long-overdue idea! A super-accessible guide, through the bewildering marketplace of modern therapy, to ease our noble search for help,” (Derren Brown); “How do we cope with this brutal world? In this witty, revealing book Ariane Sherine runs through the ways. An excellent, funny and thought-provoking read for all who seek answers,” (Arthur Smith).

There will be time for questions and discussion following Ariane’s presentation.

Ariane’s talk will take place at Wanstead Library on 27 January from 7.30pm (free; visitors welcome) – visit wnstd.com/elh. For more information on Ariane and her books, visit arianesherine.com
Author profile
Paul Kaufman
East London Humanists