Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Webster dead at 95 and sorely missed

(John) Webster will be sorely missed by those who had the good fortune to hear him thunder brilliantly and hilariously for decades from his soapboax in Sydney on Sunday afternoons.

From an obituary by Tony Stephens, December 17, 2008:

"WEBSTER, always known simply as Webster, was the last of the Sydney Domain orators or, more likely, demagogues.

"He was probably brilliant, possibly a little mad, and a heretic to all beliefs.

"He made a living mostly through his spoken words. For a couple of decades he entertained - and irritated - thousands of Sydney people every Sunday, with a mixture of original thinking and showbusiness.

"One of the last non-conformists in a world increasingly demanding conformism, he left Sydney a decade ago to build a new Jerusalem in Tasmania. He has died there, at 95 ...

"His surviving nephews and nieces will decide if some are to be scattered in the Domain ...

"He had begun addressing crowds at Speakers' Corner before the war. He advertised topics such as "The Natural Law Religion" and "Webster's Public Immorality" but his talks, with responses to hecklers, ranged widely over matters religious, spiritual, social and political, and lasted for up to three hours.

"On public immorality, he said: 'The Christians spend three-quarters of their life denying sex and the other quarter having it.' On religion: 'Where you find a priest, there you find a professional scoundrel who lives on superstition and who tries to blackmail you into a hangover called heaven.'

"An anarchist and iconoclast, he said: 'I believe in nothing except the reality with which I am confronted ...'

"When a heckler shouted: 'How many women have you got on the streets?' he replied: 'You may have your women on the street. Webster has his in bed.'" ...
Sydney Morning Herald

See Webster at YouTube

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