A visit to Central London is not complete without a Sunday afternoon stroll at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner. At first I thought it was shaped like an open air auditorium where people sat down on chairs or sat on the grass and the speakers queued up for their turn on the box. But that is not the case. It is a free for all type of thing so there must be some muscling in to get onto the box. One thing for sure, standing on the soap box is certainly not for the faint-hearted. There isn’t just one box. There are several boxes situated strategically along and on either side of the path. So you can pick your speaker or topic and join in. The speakers come from many walks of life and are free to talk about anything under the sun and what floats their boats. There’s even a cafe named after the Speakers’ Corner so one can have a cuppa or whatever and listen to other speakers or walk around the Park.
First the speakers. They are like ‘verbal bloggers’ – they are free to express themselves and have a ‘corner’ and a soap box to do it from and on. There is really nothing formal about this, just a good old rant and rave about whatever floats your boat. You can choose to listen, scream abuses at the speaker or just simply smile and walk around the park and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Park. I did just that. Listened to a few of the orators then walking on then returning to hear some more. I was more curious than anything else. It was an interesting experience though. At least I’ve been there and done that as a tourist in London and an expat in the UK.
This was the first guy I saw. He was screaming and gestulating. From afar it looked epileptic and disjointed but he was still standing and speaking. I couldn’t follow everything he was saying but he was my first glympse of a ‘verbal blogger’ in action! Yah man. In fact on my way out I passed by him again and this time I heard him say the whole world should try their darndest not to emulate Obama because he is too thin! People need to eat more veggies! Huh? I just laughed. Yes, he had the right to express himself. Good for him.
This guy had the most interactive audience. He was trying to explain the similarities between Christianity and Islam and was having a hard time answering the barrage of questions thrown at him. I couldn’t make head or tail of his argument. Questions were coming at him hard and fast but hey, I give him 10 out of 10 for standing his ground.
I couldn’t remember any of the questions and was kind of afraid that someone might rush him if he provoked some unstable heckler. But after returning from a 15-minute walk in one part of the Park our man was still there as ardent and enthusiastic as ever. He was still trying to make himself heard! What a man!
I am not sure which Book he was holding during his passionate verbal blog. I liked him. He never gave in to the cynical audience nor did he flinch. So that was someone with a religious theme. I left after a few minutes.
This is another verbal blogger talking about his political beliefs. I am not sure whether this is Danny Lambert himself (champion of the Socialist Party of the Great Britain) or not. He was not so loud but passionate. I don’t know about eloquent but he’d decided this is the way he was going to spend his Sunday morning. Well I decided he was not going to spend Sunday for me so I walked on but not before I took this shot of him. I don’t know where the Socialist Party is on the political totem pole but like the first two guys, good for the opportunity to present his views – whether they made sense or not.
This next speaker had the most interactive audience. I joined in the ‘heckling’ from the audience with a wee small voice though. There were others also putting forward their points of view and it was getting very exciting and interactive. He was proposing one world. I said to myself, now wait a minute, where could his brain be located? Call me a cynic but hey, when you’ve seen and experienced certain attitudes I’ve been through you could easily become a cynic. My only line would be if you can fully embrace diversity in all its shapes, forms and manifestations maybe there is hope…but right now…hmmm
Anyway, I only followed part of the rant which I think was espousing that we can all live happily ever after if we all became one big brother/sisterhood in the whole world. He kept on waving the UN flag. What have they got to do with it?
People in the audience were talking as if their lives depended on every word he or they said. Most passionate and I think I got the hang of what it could be like on Speakers’ Corner. He even got these two guys arguing between themselves. Some of the audience were smiling and whispering to eachother. I enjoyed this speaker too. He was calm but determined with his dream. Dream on old timer…dream on.
After listening and almost drawn into the verbal sparring I made my way towards Marble Arch. As I looked back towards Speakers’ Corner, I could see more and more people gravitating towards the speakers and I quietly wondered how much the Speakers’ Corner influences public debate as well as policy changes and whether the quality of speakers is something to worry about or whether I could return to experience this again when next in Central London on a Sunday. With this new London experience I went away thinking to myself…not a bad Sunday morning but, could I really call these speakers verbal bloggers?
As I left the Park through Marble Arch, I wondered about the history of Speakers’ Corner. Why here and not elsewhere? This is a video recording showing the true colourful and exciting character of the Speakers’ Corner. The video is from LondonGirl’s blog – http://hubpages.com/hub/Speakers-Corner-and-Protests-in-Hyde-Park-London-An-Insiders-Guide-to-London-Tourist-Attractions. I think this is pretty cool!
For these similarities I call them verbal bloggers:
- Pick their own topic to speak on
- Express their own views
- Don’t need a degree to be a verbal blogger at Speakers’ Corner
- Have own soap box
- Have own space and ‘corner’ within the Corner
- Engage and interact with an audience
- Cultivate a following with their ideas and convictions
- Speaker could be male or female
- Be of any nationality
- Don’t have to be an elected public office holder to speak
- Anyone and everyone who feels so inclined to speak can do so
So there it is, the verbal bloggers of Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, London. Visit Speakers’ Corner any Sunday and you are certain to see passionate and energetic orators from locals to tourists, from the famous to the infamous. They all made it here one way or another and no doubt more will come.