About this blog
I’m going to try and visit every attraction in London (even the rubbish ones), and every big event like 'Trooping the Colour' as well. But it will probably take me about ten years to complete because I’m too lazy to get out of bed most days, so I hope you stick around until the end.
Where I’ve been…
These are the top 25 things that I’ve enjoyed the most:
Visit London Drum’s YouTube channel for more videosI've been meaning to go to Speakers' Corner for ages now, but it only runs on Sunday lunchtime so that means you have to drag yourself out of bed, and it's taken me a whole year to dredge up enough willpower... and then I went and picked the worst day possible. It rained when I was getting there, rained whilst I was watching, and rained all the way home too. Just a dirty grey sky tipping water onto my head for three hours.
But anyway... here is my report about Speakers' Corner. I got there about 10 AM first of all, and there was no one there. Not a soul. Just me and a bloke cycling his bike on the grass. Then I went back about 11 AM and it was just me and two women walking their dog. I was soaking wet by this time so I nearly went home, but I had a little stroll down Oxford Street and then went back about noon and thankfully it was starting to fill up by then. So my advice to you is this: go at 12 noon. Because there's no one there before that.
I was probably there for about an hour in total and saw a grand total of two speakers. One of them was a muslim cleric, who was a real barrel of laughs (not), and the other one was an old white guy talking about the United Nations. He was actually quite good and had about 100 people listening. The muslim guy had 5 (I counted them). The gyst of his speech went like this: Allah... Islam... Mecca... sins... the Koran... he was basically the muslim equivalent of a Bible-basher. I gave him two minutes of my time and then went and listened to the other guy.
Now... this is where it started to get more interesting, because there was a nice lively heckler butting in every ten seconds, trying to drown him out. The old guy was standing on his little ladder and had a big booming voice, and was trying to reform the UN right there and then, in Hyde Park, in the drizzling rain. He was arguing that the UN is basically an unelected, and totally unaccountable body of politicians and that it should introduce a second elected chamber, which members of the public can vote for. Yeah, I know what you're thinking... Zzzz boring! But it was actually quite nice and lively because he started involving the crowd. He was pointing to the assembled masses and challenged them to name their local MP and Euro MP, which of course most of them couldn't do. Then he picked on a big gaggle of Austrian tourists and that's when the heckler piped up.
His jokes were pretty lousy. This guy didn't have a lot of wit. He spent two minutes telling everyone that Hitler was from Austria, for example, and blaming the tourists for World War II. But the sheer relentlessness of his heckles did eventually become quite amusing, because the crowd were trying to get him to shut up so they could listen to the speech.
I think this is partly what makes Speakers' Corner so good. Because everyone is entitled to speak. The old guy was obviously an old pro at doing this and didn't mind being heckled at all - in fact, he even engaged the heckler in his dopey views. And whilst the heckler was obviously a nobhead, nobody in the crowd got angry about it -- they just went along with it, sometimes taking issue with his views but most times turning back to the speech. People would speak up from the crowd too, asking the old guy questions and saying why it wouldn't work. The Austrians started arguing that a Brit can't stand up and argue for more accountability in the UN, for example, when our government can't be bothered to take part in Brussels. It was more like a conversation than a speech, with the old guy acting as chairman.
So did I learn anything? Nope. But it was nice to see a lively and vocal debate going on in the park without anyone getting bolshy.
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