Soapbox Speakers

News from Speakers’ Corner, Sunday, 14th February.

In News From Speakers' Corner. on February 14, 2016 at 10:45 pm

1.Where is Ray?

Today Helmut spoke about Isaac Newton and held a strong audience. (No, they weren’t weightlifters. What I mean is: he had a steady audience the whole day. No, I don’t mean they were sure-footed. You know what I mean. You’re just trying to cause trouble.)

Steve spoke about Charles Darwin Day (officially on the 12th Feb), and delved into whether Chazza was religious or not. (Charley thought of himself as Christian, but was he?)

Mr B spoke about how people earn their self worth, and about how we should give our dark emotions permission to be with us. As well as other sickly sounding material. For some time now he has not recommended that we burn the Mona Lisa. Is he having second thoughts? Or can’t he afford the matches?

2. The question of psychics was raised. Here is a video which gives a few insights into how astrologers, psychics, tarot card readers and the like operate.

3. Today was Valentine’s day. Steve Maxwell explained the history of it, but otherwise it was barely mentioned. We will mention it now: here is another postcard from the Postsecret website.


4. It was also the fiftieth anniversary of Decimal Day – when Australia changed from pounds, shillings and pence, to dollars. In the weeks prior to the change television viewers were presented with the following advertisement.

It’s interesting to note that those who made the advertisement got it wrong. In a few instances they drew two lines through the ‘s’ of the dollar sign. The  Australian dollar has only one line through the ‘s’. (The U.S. dollar has two lines through it.) It’s a mistake still seen today.

5. The subject of ‘connection’ was also discussed, and a few of Mr B’s grasshoppers were not impressed with today’s social media. (Yet again,the following pictures are thanks to the Postsecret site.)


Click to enlarge.

Friends 2

6. For past posts go to the archives site, and don’t forget our Facebook page, which is proving to be no more popular than a puke in a taxi.

7. Steve Maxwell’s latest ‘Passing Parade’ article is below:

Rhodes Memorial, South Africa.

This granite memorial stands on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, at a spot where the mining magnate and former prime minister, Cecil Rhodes, used to admire the view. There are 49 steps, one for each year of Rhodes’ life, flanked by pairs of bronze lions. The top provides sweeping vistas to the Cape Flats and the mountain ranges beyond.

On the 19th November 1992, the Cape Times reported the appearance of soapbox oratory at Rhodes Memorial. Headline: Bronze lion ‘soap-box’

‘Cape Town’s own Speakers’ Corner, modelled on the original in London’s Hyde Park, got off to a small but noisy start at Rhodes Memorial yesterday morning. The setting was no less picturesque than that of the original, but yesterday’s “soap-box” (one of the bronze lions) made a grander platform.

‘Dr Clive McDowell, a consultant ecologist at the Institute for Plant Conservation, braved hecklers to tell a rowdy crowd of about 10 people that more should be done for the Western Cape Fynbos.’

McDowell described the Fynbos as “one of the world’s six floral kingdoms” and “a genetic botanic goldmine” with more than 8,000 species. Dr McDowell said the Fynbos was threatened by invasive vegetation. He cited Port Jackson willow, stone pine, Himalayan cedar and California redwood (“one of the main threats”) as being among the invaders that needed to be controlled.

The relevance of the setting did not escape Dr McDowell. “Rhodes was the father of all invasive plant species introductions to the Cape.”  He added, “Cecil Rhodes developed the pseudo-European landscape here,”

The Cape Times went on to explain that ‘Crazy Society’ chairman, Dr Arthur Parsons, whose group organised the event, said yesterday they planned to make Speakers’ Corner a regular event on the first Sunday of every month.
 However, my research discovers that only a few meetings were held.

That Speakers’ Corner was doomed, probably because of the long distance from the city.

Steve Maxwell.


News for Speakers’ Corner, Sunday, 7th February.

In News From Speakers' Corner. on February 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

1.Cataract operations on both of his eyes didn’t slow down Steve Maxwell. He was here today and as vigorous as ever. He was still talking long after the chairs had been collected. His patrons were mesmerised, and happy to stand.

Good stuff, Steve, you tough old bastard!

2. We had a special guest today. Victor Zammit used to speak in the Domain last century – does that make him sound ancient? – yet he was in  surprisingly good condition when he turned up.

Zammit heckled

We were given a taste of why he is on record for having the largest crowd in the Domain. He spoke about a few of his memories speaking there.

You can find more about Victor in The History of Speakers’ Corner page.

3. The subject of vaccination came up, and a woman suggested that vaccinations are bad for us.  The picture below presents a view.


4. For past posts go to the archives site, and don’t forget our Facebook page.

5. We had a special guest last week on Australia Day, too, though this scribe didn’t know it at the time. John Ambler turned up.

John was also a big contributor to the Domain. So much so that Steve Maxwell has written an article about him in his ‘Passing Parade’. Here it is:

Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade.

John Ambler, Sydney’s Domain.

On Australia Day 2016 John Ambler, a well known Domain orator in the past, was surprised to see Mr. Bashful up on the podium. John asked if the council provided the chairs, and was informed that Mr. Bashful provided them, and willingly shared the chairs with other speakers. John expressed his joy that Speakers’ Corner has survived, and he hopes to come to the Domain more often.

Let’s hope he comes to share his views. There’s a ladder here for him that he can use all day.

John Ambler was The Domain’s philosopher, and he spoke steadily throughout the 1970’s. His eloquent style of delivery, while giving the audience every opportunity to question him, made him popular.

In the 1980’s John was worried that the Domain would fold. He made attempts to relocate the speakers to Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour.  The area had been upgraded as a major city tourist venue. However, the people had grown cold on the idea of listening to street oratory. In a place like Circular Quay, where the tinsel of commercialism shines and buskers entertain; people gather like moths to a light. But not to hear a speaker. It was simply impossible to compete with the noise from the buskers and the Harbour.

What really killed the idea of speaking at Circular Quay was that the area had no protection for Free Speech. When uninvited Nazi speakers began to speak regularly, complaints rolled in. The authority closed the venue to all soapbox orators.

John did not give up. He still went to the Domain and entertained the people with his thought provoking sayings. He faded from the scene in the 1990’s.

Steve Maxwell.



The speakers and hecklers!

In Speakers and hecklers. on March 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.” 
Gerry Spence.

Some people say the speakers at Speakers’ Corner are a little eccentric. There might be a skerrick of merit in that point of view. Whatever the case, they’re an entertaining bunch.
Click here to see their 2015 highlights.
Click here to see their 2014 highlights.
Click here to see their 2013 highlights.

Find us on Facebook.

The Speakers and Hecklers.

Steve Maxwell, historian and political commentator.

Steve Maxwell In various personas, but always engaging, Steve talks about religion, Australian history and politics. Click here for highlights. To see more videos of Steve, go to the archives site. From his book, ‘Soapbox Oratory‘ Steve writes: ‘In a modern city, there must be a place where strangers can meet and discuss the issues of the day without fear of persecution; where the right to retain one’s individuality is allowed.

Helmut Cerncic, metaphysicist.

Helmut 4

Helmut once beat Arnold Schwartzenegger in a body building contest. He knows a lot about metaphysics, (more than Arnold Schwartzenegger), and is happy to explain why Isaac Newton was an ignoramus. But his battles with hecklers are fun. Here are some highlights. For more videos of Helmut, go to the archives site and to his own site, ‘Is Science the New Religion?’.

Mirko Terzic, 21st Century inventor.


Mirko has created a phonetic alphabet to be used world-wide, and it’s better than Esperento. He has solved the problem of perpetual motion and has diagrams explaining how to get free unlimited energy from hydropower. Mirko knows how to think outside the square. Here are a few highlights of Mirko. For more videos of Mirko go to the archives site.

Ray, Christian.

Ray is concerned about your soul.

 Ray is passionate about spreading the word of God. He takes the task seriously but isn’t confronting. He is a gentle man willing to answer your questions. Here are a few highlights. For more videos of Ray, go to the archives site.

Mr Bashful, epiphany specialist.

Mr B 2

Mr Bashful, the epiphany specialist.

Mr Bashful calls his listeners his ‘grasshoppers’. Among other things, Mr Bashful talks about New Age scams,  happiness myths, and why we should burn the Mona Lisa. One thing he isn’t, is bashful.

Tony, atheist. (Speaker and  heckler)

New-Zealand born Tony is a fervent atheist and scathing of the Catholic Church. When he is not berating Christianity he is either sinking the boot into other religions, or supporting Palestine. In this video  Tony expresses a few of his well considered opinions. For more videos of Tony click here.


Peter the Heckler (and occasional speaker)

Peter - best

During the week Peter teaches students, and if he teaches them with the same verve he has for the Sunday passers-by, they are lucky students indeed. Click here for a few highlights. For more videos of Peter, go to the archives site.



 David is an accomplished player of the Shakuhachi flute and has a website.
He comes to Speakers’ Corner because . . . 

Jovo (occasional speaker)


 Jovo is a charismatic man, which may explain why he is also known as ‘Rasputin’ and ‘The Wild Man of Serbia’. Throughout the world he is envied by monks, yogis and gurus for his ability to tap into a stream of consciousness and verbalise it. 

Andrew, the exhibitionist. (Heckler.)

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

If you have any questions to ask of a flasher, Andrew is the guy to ask.

 Andrew used to be a speaker – he used to be the only flasher in the world prepared to stand up and talk about flashing, and support it. There are four entertaining videos of Andrew speaking.  Here is just one. For more videos of Andrew, go to the archives site. His award winning book about exhibitionism (flashing) is available on Amazon.

Max (Quiet listener)


Max is one of the gentler regular visitors. Says little, but when he does speak it’s sensible. A pleasant change for Speakers’ Corner. Click here to discover why he visits Speakers’ Corner.

Arthur (Heckler)

 Arthur 1

Arthur is not what you call the shy type, and is generous with his opinion. I caught him searching for disciples.

Jack (Quiet observer)


“The old grey owl sat on an oak.
The more he heard, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Now, wasn’t he a wise old bird?”

Click here to hear a few words from Jack.


Jean 2

Jean tries so hard to be feisty, but she’s just a big softie. Click here to hear why she comes to Speakers’ Corner.
Her husband is Albert, below. Both of them are very good value at Speakers’ Corner.


Albert 3

 Albert may be 92, but he is as alert as anyone, and fit. When he helps Mr B unload the chairs he carries six at a time.
Albert wrote an absorbing book titled, ‘Civilisation Hijacked’. It explains how good men are persuaded to do bad things.

If  you would like to buy a copy ($20) email Albert:
Albert is the husband of Jean.


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