I must have taken my first photos of Speakers Corner around 1989-90, so I’ve got thousands of negatives and digital files recording what’s supposed to symbolize our tradition of free speech.
There was a time when I went quite often, and an hour at Speakers Corner seemed to fit in with meeting friends for dim sum or a bit of shopping on Oxford Street.
I’ve gradually gone less and less, and I was quite surprised to discover that last year I’d been there four times. The year before it had been twice, and I’m pretty jaded by it. I don’t really get much out of listening to the ranting of one deluded religious zealot after another, and you can’t get a clean photograph when everyone in the crowd is holding a camera phone to record what’s really just a freak show for tourists.
But I wasn’t doing anything last Sunday and the Charlie Hebdo atrocity made me think it might be more interesting. It wasn’t, and it was as if the events in France had never happened, but thanks to a Metropolitan Police horse I think I finally managed to convey a flavour of the debate….