Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Personal

Webster passes on

Terry S Derby
The death of John Webster may have gone mostly unobserved within the North East rural community where he had resided for the last decade or so. Only an infinitesimal number of local people would have had a clue as to who this free-spoken ancient being was, as he dodderingly meandering around the town going about his business. This mildly eccentric old man in their midst was at one time one of the most challenging, outspoken and articulate public speakers of his time.

He was in fact the onetime famous (or infamous) “Webster” of Speakers Corner in London and then the Domain in Sydney, or wherever else he could engage or enrage the brains and intellect of functioning thinkers at all cerebal levels.

As a fourteen year old ‘Westie’ in the early sixties who suspected that there was more to the world than the ‘burbs and their relevant normalcy, I found that I could spend a good part of most Sundays nicking off from early Mass and disappearing into certain parts of the city of Sydney and visit classic and modern architecture, museums, art galleries, botanical gardens and……..Webster, all within walking distance of each other.

Toward 2.00pm I would head for the Domain to wander around, to see and listen to the public speakers and soak up the atmosphere until 5.00pm, when it was the traditional job of the local rozzers to walk the Domain firmly breaking up the groups and advising the tardy ones to move on.

But for three hours there were Liberals, Labourites, bruvvers and comrades, socialists, red rag commies, Bible bangers preaching and prophesying, the ranting academics, the suspiciously squeaky clean common sensicals, the rabid politicals and the ‘one brick short of a load’ raving loonies who would all be there scattered across the Domain excercising there democratic and civil rights to aerate to the mingling multitudes for three hours on a Sunday afternoon.

And then there was Webster!

Webster was one of a handful of speakers who stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was worldly and knowledgeable, he was extremely literate and articulate and candidly vocal, his sardonic humour and his spur of the moment interaction with hecklers and debaters made him a popular orator.

Webster could, and would talk on any given topic at any given moment, planned or unplanned.

And if the proceedings showed signs of flagging in any way, Webster could formulate, enunciate and actuate a verbal stinkbomb that provoked and demanded responses from all the schools of thought amongst those assembled around his stepladder.

Webster was a stand up challenger of hypocrisy, mediocrity, stupidity, rigidity, and avaritia in the four estates and in all other forms, what and where ever they may be.
Sundays on the Domain amongst the likes of Webster and the rest of them was all highly educational and entertaining……..and at times, life changing.

See ya next Sunday Webster!

TerryS.
Derby.

Obituary by Tony Stephens (SMH)
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/demagogue-has-last-word/2008/12/16/1229189622994.html

He was in fact the onetime famous (or infamous) “Webster” of Speakers Corner in London and then the Domain in Sydney, or wherever else he could engage or enrage the brains and intellect of functioning thinkers at all cerebal levels.

As a fourteen year old ‘Westie’ in the early sixties who suspected that there was more to the world than the ‘burbs and their relevant normalcy, I found that I could spend a good part of most Sundays nicking off from early Mass and disappearing into certain parts of the city of Sydney and visit classic and modern architecture, museums, art galleries, botanical gardens and……..Webster, all within walking distance of each other.

Toward 2.00pm I would head for the Domain to wander around, to see and listen to the public speakers and soak up the atmosphere until 5.00pm, when it was the traditional job of the local rozzers to walk the Domain firmly breaking up the groups and advising the tardy ones to move on.

But for three hours there were Liberals, Labourites, bruvvers and comrades, socialists, red rag commies, Bible bangers preaching and prophesying, the ranting academics, the suspiciously squeaky clean common sensicals, the rabid politicals and the ‘one brick short of a load’ raving loonies who would all be there scattered across the Domain excercising there democratic and civil rights to aerate to the mingling multitudes for three hours on a Sunday afternoon.

And then there was Webster!

Webster was one of a handful of speakers who stood head and shoulders above the rest. He was worldly and knowledgeable, he was extremely literate and articulate and candidly vocal, his sardonic humour and his spur of the moment interaction with hecklers and debaters made him a popular orator.

Webster could, and would talk on any given topic at any given moment, planned or unplanned.

And if the proceedings showed signs of flagging in any way, Webster could formulate, enunciate and actuate a verbal stinkbomb that provoked and demanded responses from all the schools of thought amongst those assembled around his stepladder.

Webster was a stand up challenger of hypocrisy, mediocrity, stupidity, rigidity, and avaritia in the four estates and in all other forms, what and where ever they may be.

Sundays on the Domain amongst the likes of Webster and the rest of them was all highly educational and entertaining……..and at times, life changing.

See ya next Sunday Webster!

TerryS.
Derby.

Obituary by Tony Stephens (SMH)
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/demagogue-has-last-word/2008/12/16/1229189622994.html

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]
3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. John Dewit

    October 12, 2011 at 6:09 am

    I often wandered down to the Domain to listen to Webster after strolling around listening to the other speakers. I left listening to Webster last, because one always leaves the best until last. Then later that afternoon I would go to the Kings Cross chapel for further “Webster illumination”. He once told me that he would write a book. Does anyone know if he did?

  2. Wilfred

    June 20, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    As a young guy in the late 60’s,just before being conscripted, the Webster years are the only thing I miss about that era.

    I lived in Victoria St Kings Cross, so it was short stroll down to the Domain with a mate or two to check out Webster on Sunday arvo, give some cheek, read his blatt, and generally kick back with one eye surveying the listeners & the other on the master.

    Sunny Sunday afternoons with friends, Webster on the ladder, god is in his heaven & all’s well with the world. Yep. And weed was $30 a big ounce – heads and all. Those WERE the days.

  3. Barron Clarke

    January 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    I also was part of that time and place. Sunday afternoon’s at the Domain, then to the railway station to drop off Webster’s ladder, etc., drive him to his small rooms in King’s Cross, a cup of tea maybe a bite to eat and off to the Wayside Chapel for the open forum on Sunday Night.
    He was a free spirit when many of us where questioning what it was to be free. I life to be celebrated not mourned because Webster made this world richer for his being in it.

Leave a Reply

To Top