13. SBS

“Take the case of a blind person who recovers sight in his teens.  Several cases of this have been documented.  We might think that such a person would experience a wondrous awakening from a world of darkness into a world of light – the world we sighted people take for granted . . . In fact, what he experiences is chaos, a jumbled confusion of shapes and impressions which make no sense.  His brain has no preformed pictures of anything (a car, a beach, even his mother’s face) and thus cannot relate the images falling on the retina of his newly functional eye with any prior models drawn from experience.  Moreover, his brain cannot integrate the images into patterns…  Slowly, and painfully, he has to learn to construct a model of the world inside his head. It is our brains that create the reality we see.”
Darryl Reanney. Death of Forever.

1. Last year, SBS Television came to Speakers’ Corner and filmed eight Christians speak. It was for their television program, ‘Christians Like Us’. The first episode will be broadcast this coming Wednesday, April 3rd, 8.35pm. The second episode, a week later.

Most of you have been feverishly anticipating seeing your heroes Steve, Ray, Helmut, Mirko, Mr B and Mark the Grinner perform live on pre-recorded television. But be warned: your scribe suspects that the Speakers’ Corner segment is only a few minutes long, and will feature mainly the Christian participants.

If you really want to see Mr B on television you will have to find an episode of ‘The Magic Circle Club’ aired in June, 1966, in which he was brought onto the set by Funny Face Gordon to press the ‘play’ button on a machine. This was to bring to the viewer a brief documentary into the life of chimpanzees. Unfortunately, the young Mr B pressed the wrong button (probably ‘rewind’ or ‘fast forward’) and forced the presenter, Happy Hammond’, to quickly introduce an unexpected commercial break. While the advertisements aired, Funny Face Gordon was not so funny as he sent the young Mr B back to his seat in disgrace.

If you really want to see Mirko on television you will have to find a 1972 episode of the science program, ‘Why is it so?’. In it he assists Julius Sumner Miller dissect a frog. Mirko plays the part of the frog.

If you really want to see Uncle Pete on television, you can’t. But we have some home-movie footage of the young man crouched in a grassy knoll in Dallas, Texas, late November, 1963. He is clutching something in the grass, and arguing with his mother who is holding the camera.

Helmut was also in Dallas a few years later, with Debbie. You won’t find the footage on television but you might find it in an Adult Bookshop.

If you want to see Steve, Ray and Mark the Grinner on television you will have to wait. They have all applied to be on the next series of Big Brother. You will be able to see them shower together, laugh together, and participate in mindless games together. Witness  the alliances they form, and their prompt ejections from the show.

All that said, Mark the Grinner is his charming self in this trailer for the program.

2. Years ago, most people in society believed that women shouldn’t vote or work. That was a paradigm. A paradigm is a collective belief held by most members of a society, and it feels right and true, even if it’s absurd. If, over time, clear thinkers make an impact, then we can look back and see the absurdity of those beliefs.

Today we have beliefs equally absurd, but because those beliefs are paradigms, we can’t see their absurdity. Perhaps in years to come, people will look back at us and ask, “What were they thinking?!”

So says Mr B, who sometimes reveals the paradigms we hold dear and true. Today he revealed another. He criticised people who pay other people to clean their house for them. (To pay someone to vacuum, wipe bench tops, change bed sheets . . . . everything within the fences that isn’t done by a tradie.) “It does not mean we have to treat our own turds in the sewerage farms, and it doesn’t mean we have to take our own garbage to the landfill quarries!” he barked in response to some idiots. He said that to have someone clean what we can clean ourselves is an outrageous practice, and that people in the future might one day look back at us and wonder, “How could they have allowed that??! How could they have been such barbarians?!”

To add to his argument he reminded us of ‘The Groom of the Stool’ and how that practice was once acceptable, whereas today it wouldn’t be.

3. The subjects discussed today:
– Is it true that Australia’s Coat of Arms features the kangaroo and emu because neither can go backwards?

– Mr B explained why Eddie McQuire should not have been pilloried for mocking the disabled woman tossing the coin.

– When a man loses his virginity to a sex-worker he hasn’t really lost his virginity. So said Mr B, and he gave his reasons. The discussion was a touch controversial!

– When Christians try to raise money to create an orphanage, Mr B suggested that they could go on Eddie McQuire’s ‘Hot Seat’ program. “If God wants the orphanage then He can help them win the million dollars,” Mr B explained, “and if He doesn’t want the orphanage built, then He doesn’t have to assist, and the Christians won’t need to waste their time trying to set up the orphanage with their own fundraising efforts.”
“Why is this not a common Christian strategy?” Mr B wanted to know. He received plenty of answers.
Was Mr B being naive? Or trying to make a point?

– When asked to describe ‘nothing’ Helmut told us nothing has never existed. Or, more accurately, “nothing” has never existed. You figure it out.

– Steve Maxwell spoke about the upcoming Federal election. His sign pointed out that although he is a member of the Greens party, the views he presents are his own.

– Today’s Life Hack (Handy Hintin the old days) was: “Guys, shave!” We get our best ideas when we shower, explained Mr B, and if we shave in the shower we end up having longer showers. That means, more ideas!
Typically, he had that brilliant idea in the shower. While he was shaving! That means, the idea proved itself. How clever is that?!

– Why was George Pell given 16 months parole when the very reason for giving someone parole cannot apply to him? Did the judge give any thought to the matter? Did he act in habit? Was the judge day-dreaming?

– Mr B gave eight possible reasons why so many people today suffer from depression.

4. Instead of our Unusual Critter Series, in which we unashamedly plug our Facebook page, we present to you a new article for Steve Maxwell’s popular Passing Parade series.

Thank you, Steve!


Donald Grant was born in 1888 at Inverness, Scotland. He migrated to Australia in 1910, where he found work in a paper mill. Grant became worried by the fear of impending war and joined the Australian Freedom League in 1912. By the outbreak of war he found himself increasingly attracted to the IWW (Industrial Worker of the World), which was also a militant labor organisation.

Donald Grant emerged as an important anti-war speaker in the Sydney Domain. During the first World War he attracted large crowds with his personal magnetism. His activities lost him his job in the paper mill. and he was blacklisted in every state in Australia. Grant survived unemployment as best he could by helping the IWW.

In 1915, Tom Barker, editor of  “Direct Action”,an IWW newspaper, was jailed for producing a poster  which read, “To arms!  capitalists parsons, politicians, landlords, newspaper editors, and other stay at home patriots. Your country needs you in the trenches! workers follow your masters!”.

The following Sunday on the Domain, Donald Grant was recorded in short hand by police spies as saying:

“For every day Barker is in jail it will cost the capitalists ten thousand pound”.

These are fifteen of the most famous words spoken on the Domain. Donald grant received a sentence of one year in jail for each word uttered. He was arrested in October 1916 while visiting Broken Hill, along with eleven other members of the IWW. All were charged with treason.

The charges were later altered to “arson and sedition”. Grant was convicted on all counts and given his sentence of fifteen years. Other members of the IWW received sentences ranging from eleven to twenty years. The IWW was accused of burning down a wool storage building.

New South Wales trade unions engaged E.E.Judd to investigate the police case. His investigation proved a conspiracy between the government and the police.

The IWW, the Labor Party and the Australian Freedom League launched a widespread campaign to free the men. In 1920 a Royal Commission found that IWW and Grant had been wrongly convicted.

In later years, Grant joined the Labor Party. He was elected to the Sydney Municipal Council and later was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council. He was an adviser to External Affairs Minister H.V. Evatt in 1943, and was elected a federal senator for 16 years.

Steve Maxwell, 2019