43. Mr B defends the boys of St Kevins.

“Science is the real news. The rest is the same old stuff coming around and around, yet again.”
Paul Davies.

1. It was a beautiful Goldilocks day in which half the people wanted to be in the shade, and half in the sun. We made it happen.

The bad news: Steve Maxwell and Ray didn’t turn up.

The good news: Steve has written an article about Adelaide’s Speakers’ Corner. You’ll find it below.

Ex-teacher Uncle Pete began the afternoon with a series of anecdotes. One was about the day he gave a student an unacceptable, over-the-top roasting, and he later apologised to the boy and to the entire class, and ended up being liked and respected. How does he get away with his behaviour? We don’t know, but he gets away with bad behaviour every week at Speakers’ Corner.

Next week he will be stepping onto the Ladder of Knowledge and talking about feminism.

2. Mr B had some strong words to say to the people who criticised the boys at St Kevin’s College in Melbourne for singing lewd songs in a bus. He said that to shove a strapping youth into a school desk for hours every day is like forcing a Ferrari to drive at no more than 30kms an hour. Plus, those boys are in a boys’ school, so they’re not getting the opportunity to mix with girls and learn to relate with them. And, at their sexual prime they’re not getting their needs addressed. Is it any wonder they become a little ‘twisted’, and sing lewd songs on buses?

“What did you learn at school, Hans Thomas?” Dad asked.
“To sit still,” I replied. “It’s so difficult that we spend years learning to do it.”
From ‘The Solitaire Mystery’ by Jostein Gaarder.

If we are to criticise those boys for their poor behaviour, we should also thank them for the sacrifices they make in order to please society.

Please note that Mr B’s views are not necessarily the views of this scribe.

Well, maybe they are. Mr B does seem to know what he’s talking about.

3. At one point passer-by Daniel got up to speak about Liberal policies. He fielded lots of questions, which is the sign of a good speaker.

Daniel left his jacket behind. If he wants it back he can email this scribe at openslather@hotmail.com.

4. We played another three rounds of ‘Would I lie to You?’  We had one unashamed liar: Carol did NOT in her earlier years pretend to be a guru and accidentally get a follower.

However, Peter the Younger told the truth, while trying to lie! He coincidentally DID happen to live in a house for four weeks and not know a cat was also living there. And, Uncle Pete DOES always eat toast in the morning (at 3am).

The truth is out there!

5. Mr B has thrown at us another chapter of his book on resilience and happiness. He wants us to ignore the dills in the peanut gallery.

The dills in the peanut gallery.

6. Other topics discussed:
-Some people have a penchant to learn about events in history as though they’re collecting stamps, yet seem to have no insight into the ‘other side’s’ point of view.

– We learned about Pat, a 95 year old woman with advanced macular degeneration, who still mows her lawn (and changes its spark plugs). She lives near a small country town in East Gippsland, and when she rings a tradie to have something fixed, the tradie arrives the next day and does it for free. She can’t get anyone to accept her money. Even the bus driver, who takes her to Bairnsdale once a fortnight, makes sure he goes off his route to pick her up and drop her off at her front gate.
I guess that can happen in a small community when you do good things for people while you’re young and healthy.

– We heard about the woman who dived into a river to save her son from drowning. After she had saved him and returned to her seat, it was pointed out that she still had a (now soggy) cigarette between her lips.

– We heard from Mirko in the audience. He insisted on being informed as to what we should do with mentally ill people with ten fingers, in a bus. If you understand what he is getting at, you’re a genius.

– Mr B told us he had heard countless stories of women being pestered by men to go out with them,  and who had finally said ‘yes’ to the man, and then ended up marrying him. Mr B wanted to know why such stories are appreciated, given how many times we hear of men being shamed for asking a woman out more than once. (“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” and “That’s sexual harrassment.”) Mr B’s grasshoppers attempted to set him straight. But by the end of the topic he still looked bewildered.

– Just to clear things up: your scribe informs you that the capitalised letter ‘N’ represents the chemical Nitrogen, as well as the 14th letter in our alphabet, whereas the lowercase ‘o’ has the sole function of being the fifteenth letter of the alphabet.
In other words, your scribe understands both parts of the word ‘No’. Not that it’s helped any.

– What does it mean to objectify women? (Or men?) For that matter, what does it mean to objectify an object? What does it mean to subjectify an object? What’s the objective in asking these questions?

– Helmut discussed free will. He said it exists!

7. In our Unusual Critter Series we proudly present to you a crayfish that doesn’t inhabit creeks, rivers or lakes. Or oceans, for that matter. It lives in the ground. There are 17 species and nearly all of them live in Victoria, Australia. They would all jump at the chance to subscribe to our Facebook page. You do have that opportunity, so don’t waste it.

8. Stalwart Steve Maxwell has, in his lighthearted style, written more articles for his Passing Parade. Here is the first:


In 1836, the South Australian colony was established through free migration directly from Great Britain. No convict transportation was assigned to South Australia.

British politician Edward Wakefield (1796-1862) campaigned for colonization and self-government in the empire. His system of settlement took no account of aboriginal rights and took tight control of land and labour. Adelaide soon became a centre of trade and commerce. Rich mineral deposits and agricultural land ensured the success of the colony. It was not long before trade unions organized, among the miners from South Australia and Broken Hill, (N.S.W.). Once the population reached 50,000, self-government was granted in 1851. The first parliament under responsible government was elected in 1857.

The Botanic Park’s Speakers’ Corner began as a religious forum. Open-air religious meetings were common in the streets of Adelaide during the 1840’s and 50’s. And the first report of a Speakers’ Corner was found in the Botanic Garden’s Annual Report from 1887 where there appeared this significant announcement:

“On Sunday afternoon some religious sects, the Salvation Army, and the Crusaders, assembled in “THE CIRCLES” for worship and as long as no damage is done to the location, I do not see any reason for preventing such assemblages.” 

For the next seventy years, Botanic Park Speakers’ Corner was the beating heart of Adelaide’s public politics. Non-conformist protestants began to flourish in the colony – some with the motto “WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY”. But the spirit of The Lord works in mysterious ways. The Methodist Weekly of 1912 complained about their losing their grip on the working class. “Men who formerly were in our churches are now at the Botanic Park on sabbath afternoons or at some other political gathering. The leader of the Labor and socialistic movement is largely outside our churches”.

As the 19th century closed, the rise of the working-class platforms began to grow and outnumber the religious platforms. The 20th century saw the rise and fall of Speakers’ Corner.

Steve Maxwell, Oct 2019

– The Botanic Garden’s Annual Reports.
– The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide and State Herbarium.
– The Mortlock Library South Australia
– ‘Free Speech in Botanic Park’ by L.P. Jervis. https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/botanic-park/salvation-army-botanic-park https://www.weekendnotes.com/speakers-corner-botanic-park-adelaide/
– Sound of Trumpets History of the Labour Movement in South Australia   P59. by Jim Moss

Botanic Park, Adelaide