Speakers Corner

Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 12:42 PM
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Speakers Corner

Is Speakers Corner worth a visit on a Sunday afternoon? What can we expect? (First time visit to London for my wife and I.)
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 12:54 PM
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Only if the sight of people - many at the fringes of sanity - sounding off their opinions to others equally sanity-challenged appeals to you, or is a novelty.

To visitors from countries with censorship, this might appear interesting. To most of us, it's simply watching people go through therapy.

Any decent dinner party will yield better presented arguments by better informed people. Ben Haines' wonderful lectures site (http://victorianresearch.org/lectures.html) will yield infinitely more insights into the human condition. Spending the same amount of time listening to Radio 4 or watching BBC2's Newsnight will reveal articulate people discussing serious issues.

'Twasn't always thus. The wonderful Reverend Donald Soper used to do a wonderful job preaching his variety of caring but robust Christianity to an audience of exceptionally sharp and caustic heathens. Both sides emerged with credit. Sadly, Speakers Corner is now about as interesting or edifying as Prime Minister's Question Time. But without the jokes.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 12:56 PM
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Depends. on weather and time of year. On a nice day there can be huge crowds and several speakers on their soap boxes, with the usual touts who egg them on in a generally good natured way. Recent times i've been there it was disappointing with few speakers. Speakers seem to be of two types - religious zealots or socialists. It's worth looking at anyway for this tradition. goes from morning through late afternoon. On many occasions i've spent several hours there enraputred but not in recent memory. Londoners - is speakers corner becoming passe?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 02:22 PM
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I could see going there to see the tradition but it's really nothing I'd go out of my way for. However, I live in a big city and am used to folks spouting off on the street, in the metro, and in public (many of whom are not mentally stable, unfortunately), so it doesn't hold much charm for me. I try to avoid people like that.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 03:13 PM
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You could always try it and leave if it's too boring. Hyde Park is lovely on a Sunday and you are also walking distance to Buckingham Palace for changing of the gaurd, if it's on that day.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 03:17 PM
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people - many at the fringes of sanity - sounding off their opinions to others equally sanity-challenged

Sounds like Fodor's.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 03:22 PM
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Yes, Flanneruk confirms my suspicion that Speakers Corner is down. In the 70s when i spent days there as a young man it was exciting as hell. I'll never forget the very plump Nigerian guy, dressed to the hilt, dissing the British listeners but saying how he doesn't work, that the dole pays for him, and satirizing how British he had become - patting his jelly-belly and roaring "Yorkshire Pudding". It was fun then but it takes just a minute to check it out. Actually last Sep i was there and there was an enthralling socialist who was having a great tete-a-tete with the crowd - a Madison WI NPR radio station interviewed him afterword.
Flan: I watch PM's question period on our CSPAN network every week and thoroughly enjoy it - no no 'edifying' stuff but good show. Makes Blair look so witty and all with what i take are scripted repartees.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2005, 03:33 PM
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flanner's description is spot on. Nowadays, I would never make a special trip there. BUT - if you are checking out the art along Bayswater Rd anyway, it would not be out of your way. If you start out at the west end between Lancaster Gate and Queensway tube stations and walk east along the art displays you will end up near Speakers' Corner and then it is a short walk over to Marble Arch tube station.
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Old Jan 4th, 2005, 04:34 AM
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I have only been to Speaker's Corner once and I was lucky enough to see the funniest "show." It wasn't the speaker that was so funny, it was the guy in the crowd heckling him. But that was in 1980, and although I have returned to London many times since then, I haven't re-visited Speaker's Corner. If I'm ever in London again on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and if I feel like spending an afternoon in the park, I will stop by. But as everyone else says, I wouldn't go out of my way for it.
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