It’s possible to understand the air of niggling cynicism that many expressed before this first Sleep in the Park sleepout to raise money for, and awareness of, tackling homelessness and rough-sleeping in Scotland; the sense that a predominantly middle-class audience wrapped in expensive knitwear and watching one of the year’s best line-ups were having an altogether too-nice time of it to really relate to the issue at hand. Yet it was a suspicion which evaporated as the evening’s entertainment progressed and the temperature plummeted to -5C.
Regardless of how warm the bed they had to go back to was, there’s no doubt the 9,000 sponsored fundraisers lying under the stars in the cold would have had a keen, if brief, appreciation of what rough-sleeping is like. Yet the evening’s preceding, Rob Brydon-introduced mini-festival provided inspiration enough to get on with it, whether it was Bob Geldof wishing the audience “More than happy Christmas, you are all f***ing excellent”, Amy Macdonald introducing Pride by saying being part of it made her feel as proud as singing Flower of Scotland at Hampden and Deacon Blue adding a delicate acoustic spin to their greatest hits, from Wages Day to Dignity and the appropriate A New House.
Between the acts, awareness of the event’s purpose was pressed home, with the introduction of formerly homeless members of staff at the Social Bite café – the organisers of the event – and video shot on the streets of Edinburgh showing us the people behind the statistics. Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn told us £3.6 million had been raised and nearly 500 homes pledged by housing associations across the Central Belt, a piece of good news before the star power finale – John Cleese’s typically unreconstructed bedtime story aside – of Liam Gallagher and band playing material from his new album alongside Oasis classics Rockin’ Chair, Live Forever and Wonderwall and a version of Bob Marley’s Natural Mystic which summed up the feeling of warm positivity before bedtime. It’s easy to imagine this was a night when thousands of eyes were opened.