Michael Carolan

Michael Carolan, a retired head teacher, adored reading as a boy and went on to a Jesuit grammar school. His father was Irish Catholic and conservative “with a big and small ‘c’.” His mother had a working class Salvation Army background. The family fortunes were affected by anti-Catholic prejudice. Michael’s father, drawn to “a dynamic he had never experienced” in Bolton or the military, took him to Speakers’ Corner between the ages of seven and fourteen. Young Michael’s impression of Speakers’ Corner was of adults “misbehaving.” Against the conformist 1950s backdrop, it was funny and surprising to see them “declaiming like Romans.” He remembers three types of speaker: religious, political or “barmy.” His memories of Speakers’ Corner influenced his worldview: “You don’t harm anybody by standing up and saying what you wish to say in an environment where everybody is safe.”

Audio of Michael