Many years ago I read about a photographer who selected a bench looking out over the sea at some resort on the south coast. He decided to interview and photograph anyone who sat on that seat, with their permission of course. It was a fascinating little piece of whimsy.
I have had this in mind for many years. Tucked away somewhere deep inside me. A sharing of experience focusing on a public good - the humble public bench.
Then a few years later, about 2004, I climbed Craig yr Aderyn (Birds' Rock) near Mount Snowdon in North Wales. It is a special place, significant as being one of the few places where cormorants nest inland.
On my descent I came across a bench over-looking some houses near the bottom of the summit. It was dedicated to "Nick" and he was born in 1962 and had died a few years ago. My name, and my year of birth! It struck me at the time, why do we only make benches for the dead? Why not make a bench to celebrate the living, so you can enjoy knowing people are using your bench and even interact with them.
And then came my 50th birthday and I decided to buy a bench and place it near my Mum's farm next to a public footpath. I added a small brass plaque with the URL of this blog. And some folk have sent in comments over the years.
Over the summer I had reason to visit my Mum for several weeks and I got talking to more folk as I sat on the bench at various times.
Today I saw this article and it reminded me why I did this.
Covid tales from a south London park bench – photo essay