Obituary: Frank Ridley

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The Independent Online
FRANK RIDLEY was a bouncing character on the open-air soap-box, writes Peter Cotes (further to the obituary by Al Richardson, 4 May). FA (few called him Frank) was one of Britain's best-known outdoor orators for over half a century.

In appearance he was not unlike a Shakespearean clown - short, perky, porky, with a slight speech impediment that never left him; a constant reminder of the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, when revelry was afoot. But away from public speaking - Conway Hall in winter, any one of the London parks in summer, until he grew too old to make his characterful voice heard with the best of them - FA haunted the British Museum reading room for many years, where an unfounded tale has it that he inherited Marx's chair as a 'sociologist'.