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London, Ep. 35

August 28, 2013 — Our late-summer return to Jolly Ol' was a massive smash, as the wowed crowd witnessed Sathnam Sanghera outdueling the amazing John Niven by the impossibly narrow margin of 8-7 in an audience-assisted finale of Scribble the Title, winning Sanghera the LDM London, Ep. 35 crown. 

But before the Sharpies were drawn for the finale, the night kicked off with John Niven, author of Straight White Male and The Second Coming, who performed a piece from from Kill Your Friends — a rant on the mounting debts of the signed musician and the ways the record label screw you over. Next up was Polly Morland, a documentary-maker who read from her book The Society of Timid Souls, an excerpt about Jimmy Norton, an ex-offender who told Morland of his moment of cowardice as a bank robber. 

The mic was then handed over to the trio of all-star judges: Louise Doughtyauthor of Whatever You Love and Apple Tree YardSarah Morgan, comedy writer (The Now Show & Watson and Oliver); and Andy Rileycartoonist and scriptwriter (The Bunny Suicides). Doughty compared Niven to an Italian experimentalist, while Morgan quipped that she was glad "John overcame his crippling shyness" and said she'd forever use the term "It's all gone tits" going forward. Riley offered to give Niven his band's demo cassette 'Digital Pain' from the 80s. On Morland, Doughty loved how she used a brilliant set of monosyllables to describe her anti-hero ('a brave bad man') and Morgan said listening was what it must feel like to drive a speedboat. Riley was reminded the time he stole a mini-Mastermind game from a local shop. 

After a painful deliberation, the judges made the tough call by naming Niven the night's first finalist. 

Following a booze-and-chatter filled intermission, Round 2 commenced with Nuala Casey, author of Soho 4 a.m., about listening to the sounds of Soho late at night, and her character searching for sexual gratification while stepping past rotting cabbages. Finally, it was Sathnam Sanghera, journalist and author of The Boy With The Topknot (named 2009 Mind Book of the Year), who read from his all-new novel Marriage Material. The excerpt was about the incessant chit-chat a shop owner must face, featuring Asian stereotypes - expectations and assumptions - and why there's nothing sexy about running a newsagent (including being called a Taliban pedophile). 

Again the mic was handed to the judges. Casey's piece reminded Doughty of Less Than Zero, and said it was the first time she'd heard a song described as 'the ultimate knicker dropper' (Miles Davis), while Morgan said Casey looked like an Instagram of Soho, and Riley was reminded of what Soho was like before it was all Coffee Republics Pret a Mangers and Nandos. About Sanghera, Doughty thought he had done the great, difficult work of engaging the audience with serious issues through humour, and Morgan applauded how he reeked of plucky underdog which she suggested will get him laid. 

Again, the judges struggled to decide a winner, but after a lengthy conversation they decided it was Sanghera who would go on to be the night's second finalist. 

Then LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga took center stage who announced the night's finale: Scribble the Title, in which he tasked audience members with drawing the titles of brilliant books while the two finalist — Niven and Sanghera — tried to guess what they were writing. The twist: the audience members were blindfolded, and were asked different volunteers to draw with their wrong hand, their mouth, their feet and after being spun in a circle five times. It was a dramatic night, and with the LDM crown on the line, Sanghera nailed the final answer — "Remains of the Day!" — winning him the London, Ep. 35 medal, and literary immortality to go with it. 

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