1. The Debate went well! Steve Maxwell acted as Chair, and the two lads, Peter the Heckler and Helmut the Heckled, discussed the merit of Sir Isaac Newton’s contribution to science. Helmut looked fantastic in his flash shirt, tie and suit. He looked like a million dollars, as you can see in the photo.
Peter the Heckler also looked like a million dollars, though in small change.
It is not clear who won the debate, but it was so popular the two men will debate again next meeting. The topic: God is Energy.
2. The battle of the geriatrics, Al versus Al!
Albert is 90 but darts about the place like a blue-arsed fly. He helps carry the 25 chairs from Mr B’s car, carrying six at a time. He is stronger and fitter than most teenagers, and for sixty-five years has been happily married to his gorgeous wife, Jean. Albert is a meat eater.
Alfred is 92. He is a self-confessed ladies’ man who still actively propositions female passers-by. (To his credit, he retracts his invitations when he discovers the woman’s husband standing next to her. You can’t get fairer than that.) Alfred has never been sick, nor been to a doctor (he says), and has for most of his life been a vegetarian.
In the upcoming meeting this Sunday at Speakers’ Corner we will persuade the two men to settle an age-old question: Should humans eat meat or be vegetarian? We already have a debate planned for that day, so the two men can determine who is right with an arm wrestle.
If you hear the sound of a twig snapping . . .
3. For your interest, Alfred the vegetarian believes that it is a terrible thing that tigers and lions eat zebras. (We will ignore the fact that there are no tigers in Africa.) Alfred thinks it’s cruel. When asked what he would prefer: lions eating zebras, or lions starving to death, he answered, ‘The lions should starve. It’s cruel to eat zebras.’ Go figure.
Peter the Heckler asked Alfred if lions should be expected to eat salad. Your scribe doesn’t know how Alfred responded, but it’s pretty obvious that no one should have to eat salad.
4. Speaking of vegetarians . . .
5. There were a few questions about capitalism. This picture provides an answer.
Here is one of Steve Maxwell’s chapters from his Passing Parade:
Voiceless Memorial by Steve Maxwell.
For many years Sydney’s Speakers’ Corner in the Domain had no memorial to acknowledge the historical and contemporary importance of the area as a site of public oratory. That all changed in the year 2000.
To celebrate a centenary of federation, The Federal and State governments funded Sydney Sculpture Walk, which was a major City of Sydney Council initiative consisting of five artworks. One of those artworks was created by Debra Phillips, a well known Sydney sculptor and art teacher. Her work was called Viva Voce, and it was placed in the middle of the Domain – an area where public speakers once gathered. Her installation consists of a red stepladder (modelled on Charlie King’s red ladder) and five marble-clad soapboxes arranged amongst the trees.
Viva Voca was opened by Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore. If my memory serves me correctly, “The Wizard ” of New Zealand (Ian Channell, formerly a popular university lecturer and Domain soapboxer) cursed the Nazi party from the Viva Voce on the same day it was opened. Apparently the leader of the Nazi party had proclaimed himself Wizard of Australia. Ian hated the Nazis and said there was room for only one Wizard. He thereupon cursed the leader of the Nazis to thenceforth utter nothing but nonsense, which Ian believed the Nazis already did.
The area where Viva Voce stands was a natural gathering place for speakers, but due to a long drought, garden water sprinklers were automatically turned on every afternoon at 2 pm. The speakers found a place closer to the Art Gallery where the water sprinklers could not reach them.
Then on Sunday 20th March 2011, another tribute to the soapboxers was opened in the Domain, directly opposite the Art Gallery: the Speaker’ Corner Memorial. It was opened by Dr Tim Entwisle, Director of the Botanical Gardens. The memorial is a large platform with a photographic plaque depicting Anne Duffy-Lindsay, a popular socialist speaker. It celebrates over 130 years of impassioned free speech and public debate in the Sydney Domain. The speakers on the day were the Rev. Bill Crews, Jack Mundey and myself. It was a wet day but, undaunted by the rain, the regular Domain speakers and hecklers were on hand. The Memorial is used by the speakers on Sunday afternoon.
For more stories about the history of Speakers’ Corners around the world, check out ‘Steve Maxwell’s Passing Parade‘.