Every week, a top writer, artist or creator reveals how they’d fill their perfect Sunday, sharing their favourite comfort reads, movies, food… anything that would make their weekend great.
Today, as the wolves start running, it’s the turn of author and adapter of the RSC’s captivating production of The Box of Delights, Piers Torday.
Piers’ perfect Sunday… brunch
I am completely, hopelessly addicted to Sunday lunch as a ritual as winter draws in. There is just something so comforting on a peaceful Sunday when the kitchen windows fog up, the dog is curled up in his bed after a morning yomp, and there is the smell of roast chicken, gravy and roast potatoes…and maybe just a glass or two of red wine…
Piers’ perfect Sunday… read
Often so late to parties that they're planning the next one by the time I arrive. In this case, I recently loved wallowing in the lavishly painted, immersive fantasy Babel (published last year) by R. F. Kuang, which depicts a (not that alternative) parallel nineteenth-century Oxford, dripping in terror and blood in a riveting exploration of colonialism that shows cultural power and privilege as the dark magic it is, often as or more powerful than any number of gunships. It’s also got a vein of wicked satire and the conclusion is more moving than the initial framing might suggest. A book to sink into on a Sunday.
Piers’ perfect Sunday… comic
The comics that shaped me and my imagination more than any other - and possibly more than any book - were the classic 2000 AD comics from the 1980s. I do not qualify as a proper fan or for any kind of geek status because, to my shame, I don’t remember the names of the writers or artists, only that I loved them. I was partly in love with Judge Dredd, clearly, and fascinated by stories of extreme eating competitions and flesh-destroying viruses in the megacity. Not to mention Rogue Trooper and all the rest - so restlessly dark, inventive, witty and fascinating - I could happily spend a Sunday afternoon on my bed, hoovering up all those storylines again.
Piers’ perfect Sunday… movie
There is such a restful pleasure in re-watching movies, and blissful freedom often comes from not making a choice, so I love dropping into any classic movie that is being screened in an old-school way on terrestrial TV - and luckily for me, that is often a Bond on Sunday afternoon. I’ve seen all of them far too many times, and some are terrible, but watching a movie where you know exactly what will happen next is quite fun when that thing is an explosion, deadly death or one-liner. The best Bond of all time is Skyfall. It’s so complete and truthful and emotionally satisfying for the genre, I could probably watch that till the pixels disintegrated.
Piers’ perfect Sunday… TV binge
It may not always be that relaxing, but Slow Horses on Apple TV, adapted from the compulsive and moreish Slough House thrillers from Mick Heron, is immensely bingeable and brings an edge of anticipation to a Sunday afternoon slump. Gary Oldman excels as the foul-mouthed, farting head of MI5’s loser division (the Slow Horses of the title), with Kristin Scott-Thomas as his in-house cut glass enemy, as a bunch of misfit spies end up in life-threatening peril every time. The scripts from Will Smith are Succession-worthy in their slicing, caustic wit. Season 3 started this Wednesday, and I can’t wait…
Piers’ perfect Sunday… podcast
Children’s writers Frank Cottrell Boyce and Nadia Shireen have created a very special listen called The Island of Brilliant, where the concept is that they are marooned on a desert island with nothing to do but read and discuss their favourite children’s books. In each episode, they are joined by another writer who has either been rescued from the ocean or crash-landed their plane on the island, and BookTrust children’s books supremo Emily Drabble giving her latest recommendations via a conch - and there is a dreamy, faraway, magical quality to the conversation that makes it an ideal Sunday walk companion. Children would enjoy listening, but it’s also full of excellent insights and a joyful celebration of work made for younger people by adults.
Piers’ perfect Sunday… album
Last year, when I was adapting Wind in the Willows for Wilton’s Music Hall, I was looking for something folky - of the woods and the water - to help immerse my imagination in the Ratty and Toad’s riverbank. Spell Songs, using the words of Rob MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’s mesmerising book of the same name, with music from the Spell Songs ensemble of folk musicians, did just that, and I’m still very much in love. Whatever the season, wherever you find yourself, these heart-trembling, foot-tapping, soulful songs take you deep into the woods, the hedgerows or across the moors and let you become part of the natural world rather than just a spectator.
Piers’ perfect Sunday… treat
It has to be a long, hot bath…. When I was a kid, my stepmother always had this bright green bath oil which looked like the acid at Axis Chemicals, which turns Jack Napier into The Joker in Tim Burton’s iconic Batman…luckily it smells nicer, of a very artificial yet cleansing, pine. You can still buy Wiberg’s Pine Bath Essence for a retro fix from old-school chemist Dr Harris. (And pretend you emerge from a dose as the Joker, if you wish)
The Box of Delights adapted by Piers Torday from the novel by John Masefield is on now at the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon until 7 January 2024.
'THERE ARE TRICKS...AND THEN THERE'S MAGIC!'
After a seemingly chance encounter on a train, orphaned schoolboy Kay Harker finds himself the guardian of a small wooden box with powers beyond his wildest dreams. Caught up in a battle between two powerful magicians, Kay fights to save not just the people he loves but also the future of Christmas itself. This fantastically festive production is directed by Justin Audibert (The Taming of the Shrew 2019, The Jew of Malta 2015) and designed by RSC Associate Artist Tom Piper.
Piers Torday began his career in theatre and then television as a producer and writer. His first book for children, The Last Wild, was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Award and nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. His second book, The Dark Wild, won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize. There May Be A Castle was a People's Book Award finalist and a Times Children's Book of the Year. The Lost Magician was a Book of the Year in six national newspapers and won the Teach Primary Book Award. The follow up, The Frozen Sea, was published in 2019. Piers has also completed an unfinished novel by his late father Paul (author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Death of an Owl) and adapted The Box of Delights and A Christmas Carol for the stage.
Author’s picture: James Betts