When I was young and handsome in lonely London town. For solace of my spirit to Hyde Park I’d go down. And there at Speaker’s Corner free speech was in full flow. And a hungry soul might hop aboard and let the sadness go. The issues, they were high and fine, Immigration, Ban the bomb, Apartheid, Euthanasia, Bangladesh, Strontium. And any man who owned a box and spoke the English tongue Could build a castle in the air and converse with everyone. The first one to fill my eye was a giant Irishman He had found religion, all evil could withstand His God , not a tailor, could not understand How such a very small coat fit so big a man And if Benny, the heckler, would try to raise the sneer “Now Benny that’s enough from you – I’ll come down and clip your ear!” Eschewing valour for discretion, Benny would lope away, A hyena on the prowl, for a more enlightened prey. The next was an Englishman, he liked to stir it up.”When in Rome be Roman, and do as Romans do, or else get out of England, go back to Timbuktu.” And he could handle Benny if he tried to open up, “I’ll use your wiry hair, boy, as a scrubber for my cup.” And with the sunlight now cascading, Its blessing through the air, From China, the Indies, Africa, tourists came to stare To wonder and to marvel at freedom’s bosom bare. The cameras clicked on incident and high and low debate, And no blood spilt – t’was holy, this side of heaven’s gate. And to cap it all Lord Soper, a man both good and true, His mind filled with a pure white light, and a sense of humour too. He would first rephrase your question more articulate, more refined, Than answer it succinctly both rigorous and kind, And smiling down benignly on inferior intellects, Yet according always, evenly, to each his due respect. And Benny would never fence with him, engage his repartee, He had seen too many pretenders fall to the Lord’s epee. Myself I never listened close to Soper’s true attest, I never knew spoon feeding compare to a mother’s breast. And belong to a Celtic breed that don’t acknowledge sin, And naturally run contrary, are wefted hard agin. But I loved those hazy afternoons, melancholy eased to joy, When reverie rekindled the innocence of a boy. And the times at Hyde Park corner when I wandered there to seek What a lonely soul hungers for and the strength for another week.