I think it's boring.
Eddie, my Inner Editor: It's boring but it's not depressing.
What, you mean like this?
Eddie: Yes. This is depressing.
A better way to begin would be to introduce me and show my picture.
This is Eddie, my Inner Editor. Who just happens to be a primate.
Eddie: Thank you. I'm feeling better already.
I used to begin this post with some stuff about depressing benches but now I guess that's not allowed so here's another blue bench for you.
Eddie: It could be argued that this is not a bench. It looks more like a sofa.
But at least it's blue.
Eddie: Well, that's something I suppose. Maybe you could aim a little higher in this blog, show us something that will make us smile?
That's my point. It's Blue Monday. No one can find anything to smile about.
Eddie: But that's depressing.
Yes. Because we're fast approaching Blue Monday, the Most Depressing Day of the Year.
Eddie: When is it?
It's the third Monday in January. This year it's January 21st.
Eddie: What's so bad about that?
No one knows what to do with themselves.
There's a real sense of ennui.
And this year things are even worse. Here in Britain our benches are in a fine old mess.
By voting to take our benches out of Europe we've turned everything upside down.
Already Europeans are saying goodbye.
The future will be no picnic
|photo by Joanna Michalak|
Eddie: Is Blue Monday really this bad?
Indeed it is. The festivities are behind us, leaving a feeling that something is missing from our lives.
The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, leaving the mall benches empty of shoppers.
It's no good going off to the pub. That's closed too.
Eddie: You may notice I am highlighting key points as we go. This is what good students do.
Yes, back to work, back to school. After all the joys of the season, there is no joy whatsoever.
This is dismal. You should show some nice blue benches.
Right. Here you go then.
|photo by Sheila B|
It could, but I'm not going to bother.
Gosh, you really are miserable, Seashell.
Even clowns are miserable.
The sad clown thing is clichéd. I hope we're not going to have to endure any more sad clowns. That would be depressing.
Many of us have over-indulged ourselves during the holidays.
I don't call the odd pack of dry roasted peanuts an over-indulgence.
Not everyone is as restrained as you though, Eddie.
For example, my best friend Miggy was given two family-sized boxes of Milk Tray, one box of Black Magic, and a giant Toblerone.
|photo by Sheila B|
A minute on the lips, a year on the hips.
Exactly. She can now see it was a mistake to eat all of them in one go.
|photo by Sheila B|
Yes, before you ask, Migs, your bum DOES look big in this.
Even Lady Brassica succumbed to the mountain of chocolates she'd been given.
Is there anyone who enjoys Blue Monday?
Well, yes. Root Brassica over-indulges himself every day of the year and is none the worse for wear on Blue Monday. No more than usual I mean.
He looks rather pleased with himself after driving his car on the bench outside the dustpan and i-pod.
So far the evidence for Blue Monday is weak. I'd give it up and show some attractive blue benches.
|photo by Joanna Michalak|
This is a summer picture though. Right now we're in the depth of winter.
Some of us have already broken our new year's resolutions.
Resolutions are made to be broken. January 17th is Ditch Your New Year's Resolution Day.
Many of us didn't last that long though.
This fellow resumed smoking before the fireworks finale on new year's eve.
And this fellow keeps smoking despite knowing that Smoking Kills.
Empty wine glass, beret, manbag, Toulouse Lautrec moustache. Hmmmm. Looks like Jench de Bench is back.
No, he seems to be in Paris. And long may it stay that way.
So what's the big deal about new years resolutions? I suppose there's some psychological theory about this?
Yes. When we break our resolutions, our faith in ourselves is shattered.
Here I will introduce two case studies to illustrate my argument.
Do you have to?
Yes, Eddie, I'm trying to make a convincing case for Blue Monday.
Case study 1: Lady Jessica Brassica, wife of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, resolved to stop being envious of Innocent, her younger and more fashionable daughter-in-law. In particular, Innocent's modelling career seems to be taking off as Joop designs clothes for her which are capturing the imagination of the catwalk watchers. Meanwhile, Lady B's fashion star is fading.
Do we need to know all this?
Yes. I'm trying to tell you why Lady B is feeling so blue.
Well, get on with it then.
Two items of evidence are introduced here:
1. Lady B created a fashion faux-pas by appearing at Innocent's New Year's Eve party dressed in sparkly silver.
What's wrong with silver?
Lady B did not seem to realise that the theme of the party was gold.
Or that her top is somewhat suggestive of bondage.
Yes. That's a point not lost on the fashion magazines.
2. Innocent, however, was stylishly and stunningly wrapped in gold lamé, complete with matching accessories and her natural allure.
So whilst Lady B looked like a fizzled-out firework, Innocent started the year with a bang.
Quite. And Lady B therefore broke her envy resolution on January 1st. Since then she has indulged in rather a lot of eating and it all seems to have gone to her hips.
She looks like one of those crocheted toilet roll covers.
Indeed. So are you starting to be convinced by my argument, Eddie?
Not really. Blue Monday seems to be about smoking and eating.
Don't pretend to miss the point, Eddie. And by the way, could you please stop highlighting stuff; it's really distracting for my readers who are trying to follow this complex argument.
I am not convinced that this blog has readers.
I can produce evidence for that but right now I am introducing Case Study 2.
Case study 2: Biff is one of our Fribble Agro gang members. He's the purple snarling one on the skateboard.
On January 1st he resolved to stop destroying public property.
But on January 3rd he bashed out the glass in the bus shelter . . .
. . . and then destroyed one of the benches in Paradise Park.
This is just wanton vandalism.
It may seem inexcusable but don't be too quick to judge: it may be a symptom of Blue Monday Syndrome.
OK, I'm losing patience with this psycho-babble. What exactly is Blue Monday Syndrome?
Onset is at the stroke of midnight on Blue Monday and symptoms generally last until British Summer Time begins at the end of March.
In Biff's case, symptoms have been lifelong. Nothing to do with Blue Monday.
I realise this was rather a complicated point in the presentation.
I hope you haven't nodded off.
Goodness, people have such a short attention span these days.
And getting shorter all the time. Do get on with it.
Of course, the January weather doesn't help. This time of year, everything is covered in snow.
That bitter wind never stops blowing.
Benches get blown every which way.
Exposure by Matt Calderwood 2013
I don't think these are benches. Are you sure they're not Art?
There's a fine line, Eddie. A fine line.
Those arty benches must have got blown about by the wind. And benches get stranded in floods.
Here in Fribble-under-Par my two husbands had to go out and try to rescue the street furniture on the seafront.
This is definitely not Art.
photo by Sheila B
Here at home, our beautiful garden looks like the Slough of Despond.
The Pilgrim's Progress, 1673
My imaginary husband Mungo went out to dig our benches out of the mud.
Meanwhile, my real husband, His Excellency, is in despair.
Must be Blue Monday.
We know we're lucky though. Some people have been buried in snow and weren't able to have their Christmas picnics.
And worse still, people have found that they are no longer allowed to have commemorative benches.
No commemorative benches? Whyever not?
Because some councils say they are too depressing.
Is there something I'm missing here? What part of many happy hours don't these people understand?
I know, Eddie, I know. But we need to get back to the point. Which is, that after the Christmas festivities, many people find themselves in debt.
All that money seems to have gone down the drain.
The hard part about being broke is watching the world go buy.
Yes. Following weeks of frivolous spending, they have learned that money isn't found on benches.
Sometimes it is.
OK, I agree. Just occasionally you will find a bench made out of money.
You have shown three money benches. You have shown very few blue benches at all.
You know what I'm saying though, don't you? By mid January many people realise that financially, they don't have a leg to stand on.
photo by Sheila B
So, to sum up, on Blue Monday it's easy to look ahead and see nothing but bleak benches.
photo by Mungo
This post is really dreary and getting drearier by the minute. You should have taken my advice to show blue benches for Blue Monday.
But the thing is, Eddie, Blue Monday is just a media creation by a travel company. The idea is that if you're really feeling that bad, you'll be more inclined to book a holiday.
Maybe somewhere with a blue
After the bleakness of Blue Monday, you'll feel you deserve it.
I deserve a holiday after suffering this story.
Blue Monday is just a PR stunt to try to get you to spend money on a holiday. You fork out on the holiday you can't afford and this is added to the debt you ran up over Christmas. Come the end of March, you've got serious debt.
But you don't mind because the weather improves, the light returns, and spring usually springs, more or less, as the bleakness of mid-January is forgotten for another year.
Exactly! I'm glad you have understood my argument here, Eddie. You have a sharp academic mind.
You haven't. You should have done a simple story about blue benches.
I have a lot of blue benches.
But that's not the point of Blue Monday.
You could even have typed the whole thing in blue.
I wish I'd thought of that. Oh well, too late now.
Happy Blue Monday!
The pretty blue bench at the start of the story is one that I took when Mungo and I cycled along the Baltic coast a few summers ago. We had left Blue Monday far behind us. It was glorious weather, and the houses had the most wonderful benches. There is no chance of being depressed in a place like this.
Graham Richardson lives in Plymouth in Devon and is an information analyst. Some of the information he found is that South Lanarkshire council in Scotland has banned commemorative benches and trees from its parks and open spaces after complaints that they were depressing. Depressing Benches was photographed by Graham in 2007. http://www.flickr.com/photos/didbygraham/ Graham runs a transit blog so his photo sets include ever such a lot of buses, trucks and vans.
The disturbing clown picture at the start is by Rob at http://www.flickr.com/photos/roblawol/ He snapped the clown on a bench in City Hall Park in New York City in July 2013. I'm one of many people who has added this to their favourites. Rob has lots of candid images from the streets in his photostream, including people sitting, sleeping, and doing all manner of peculiar things on benches. NYC - what a city!
Mike Cogh from Adelaide has nearly a thousand Humble Bench pictures from his travels around the world and he is featured regularly here on Benchsite. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/ Mike has an eye for public art and also, luckily for me, an eye for benches; he finds benches everywhere, and also sofas, especially outdoor and abandoned ones. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/6343184577/in/photolist
Ennui is a very famous post-impressionist painting. Doesn't it just capture the spirit of mid-January? Ennui is by English painter Walter Sickert (1860-1942). It was painted about 1913 and is now in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It is in the public domain due to its age, available at the marvelous http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/walter-sickert/ennui
We're in a fine old mess here in Britain, oh yes we are.
http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/a-fine-old-mess-of-british-benches.html On June 23, 2016 a referendum took place in Great Britain in which the voters of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar voted on whether or not to remain in the European Union. This became known as the Brexit vote (British Exit). After 43 years, the Leavers are getting their way and at some point in the next two years the UK, with or without Scotland, will be leaving the European Union. In the meantime, we have a new Prime Minister (unelected), and a cabinet of (unelected) Brexit people who are supposed to fix the mess and keep us trading with Europe. Good luck with that. http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-ins-and-outs-of-british-brexit.html
The pile of wood shown is a photograph by Lara in 2006. Lara is a casual games artist from Vancouver, who now lives in Seattle. Her albums are full of photos from Canada, the US, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lara604/279938667
I photographed the overturned bench in a playground in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. It is one of the many, many photos of bleak, broken, ugly, unloved benches in my folder of bleak, broken, ugly, unloved benches.
Louise Clark is from Whitley in England. Her shop is ElseeCrafts, where they make greeting cards, prints, mugs, and artwork in their own unique style. The Good Riddance Luck card seems appropriate for some situations and I think there may be one or two European countries who might be stocking up on these to send to the UK. https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ElseeCrafts
The empty mall is in fact a railway station, photographed in 2009 by Jonas K, whose title for the photo is Bleak. A perfect fit with Blue Monday. Jonas K lives in Berlin and travels widely. His glorious photo sets include Iceland, Mexico, Holland, Israel, Sweden, Latvia and others. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonask/
Stefan Szczel is a visual artist and writer in London. He photographed the boarded up pub (which he calls Dead Pub) at St John's Hill in Battersea in 2007. His photostream contains, among other things, rather a lot of intriguing boarded up, closed, and about-to-be demolished places. He also photographs a lot of vegetables and his profile picture shows him wearing an attractive cabbage leaf mask. http://www.flickr.com/photos/stefan-szczelkun/
The sad clown was one I saw in an antiques shop here on Paradise Island. We have several of these in Fribble-under-Par. Some are Antiquaries and sell very high-class stuffed fish in glass cases. Others are called something like Vintage Clutter and sell old clutter, especially cheap knick-knacks of people sitting on benches. http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/skeletons-and-clowns-scary-benches-come.html
The fat woman on a bench is not Miggy; you knew that, didn't you? Sheila B's fat woman on a bench is from the Cyprus Art College. Sheila lives in Cyprus some of the year and takes a lot of great pictures for me in the brilliant sunlight. She also photographed the blue beach loungers, the lone broken plastic chair on the beach and the bench with a broken leg. Whatever would I do if I didn't have other people's pictures to inspire me?
The man smoking on a bench is actually a tramp. Tramp Seated on a Bench was painted by Hungarian painter Lazlo Mednyanzsky (1852-1919) in about 1898. It's one of the thousands of brilliant paintings in the public domain because of its age. Mednyánszky himself had an aristocratic background but mingled with all kinds of people across society and liked to paint scenes of poor working people. Many of his works are in the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava and in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest. He was wounded in the first world war and died of his wounds in the spring of 1919. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A1szl%C3%B3_Medny%C3%A1nszky
Joanna Michalak has been a donator of photos from the very beginning of Benchsite. She sent me some lovely bench pictures she took at Denman's Garden near Chichester. Then there was a challenge for me to use them in a story. Well, I can't resist a challenge! One is a lovely blue garden bench, another is the blue picnic table. http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/one-sandwich-short-of-picnic-bench.htm
Jench de Bench is a former editor of a Benchsite post about edible benches. Jench hails from Potirons in France and has been gone from Paradise Island for some time, following my veiled threat to turn him into pumpkin soup. However, Jench's younger self is Garçon Orange, who is very much in evidence around Fribble-under-Par. Indeed, he is engaged to our very own Tamsin, she of the sweet disposition and massive green feet. For Tamsin's perspective on benches and all things cute, see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/big-bench-small-bench-cute-and-tiny.html
Oh, I am very fond of bus shelters. Don't miss my Bus Stop Benches and the story of Biff's sad history of bus-stop vandalism. But in the meantime, isn't this shattered bus shelter in Toronto a stunning photograph? It was taken in 2010 by Sarah R, aka jazzijava from Ontario. Sarah is a nutritionist and foodie so not surprisingly her photostream contains a lot of food pictures. That banana caramel fondant looks delish! http://www.flickr.com/photos/reid-bee/
The full story of the Silver vs. Gold debacle is revealed through evidence in a previous blog. To summarise, Lady Brassica says that Innocent invited her to a silver-themed party. Innocent denies this, claiming that everyone else realised the theme was gold and that Lady B was just trying to attract attention to herself by turning up in silver. If so, it seems to have backfired badly, as most of the chat on the fashion forums has come down on Innocent's side. Then again,chat on forums is notoriously fickle . . .
Lady Jess may indeed have put on weight over new year but she has actually worn this black crocheted outfit before. It is in fact a crocheted toilet roll cover, displayed prominently in the Benchsite Toilets post.
The Agro gang has a long history of trouble and Biff is well known as a bench smasher. Nevertheless, the gang did me proud in a dazzling post about bus stop benches.
The broken bench in snow was photographed in Briant Park, Summit, New Jersey in 2009. The photographer was Tomwsulcer, who released the photo into the public domain at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broken_bench_Briant_Pond_Park_Summit_NJ_2009.jpg?uselang=en-gb
Michael Fuller is from Toronto but currently lives in Perth. His photo sets show a lot of physical activities around the world, like kitesurfing, sailing, scuba, rock climbing, camping, dune-bashing, stargazing, swimming and yes, of course, standing on the roofs of cars http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrfuller/ The bored, sleeping students is a photo called Cozy Students, taken during a Classafloat sailing adventure http://www.classafloat.com/
Tamsin Pink is wearing her woolly green coat in the snow-blanketed town which you could be forgiven for thinking was Fribble-under-Par here on Paradise Island. No. It's Parry Sound, Ontario and it comes from the best-ever adult colouring book Fantastic Cities, by Steve McDonald. I had a brilliant time colouring only the vertical surfaces in this picture so that the horizontal ones look like snow. Well, I think they do, anyway.
The North Wind and the Sun is an illustration by Milo Winter for The Aesop for Children by Aesop. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_North_Wind_and_the_Sun_-_Wind_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_19994.jpg The illustration comes from Project Gutenberg, with the following text: This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
The bench in the flooded lake was photographed in Mote Park by Nigel Chadwick in November 2009 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bench_in_the_flooded_lake,_Mote_Park_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1610018.jpg?uselang=en-gb
'Christian still endeavoured to struggle to that side of the slough that was farthest from his own house.' The Slough of Despond is from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1673) p 31. If you want to see more photos of my delightful house and garden, see La Casa Perfecta.
Vincent Van Gogh's paintings and sketches are in the public domain because the artist has been dead more than 70 years. It's just brilliant looking at Wiki Paintings and they're so well organised and informative. Van Gogh did many sketches and paintings of people, including At Eternity's Gate, 1890.
Eddie's right; some things that look like benches are actually art. In his Exposure exhibition at the de la Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, Matt Calderwood explores the physical properties of material and its transformative quality. His Exposure Sculpture (2013) are geometric structures made from welded steel clothed in billboard paper. Located on the roof during the summer months, they were reassembled in the gallery space indoors and reveal the results from the four months' exposure to the elements during the outdoor installation prior to the exhibition. I was lucky enough to see them in December 2013.
The picnic tables buried under snow were in Washington DC in 2010. This is a photo by Carrie Smith from the NOAA Central Library. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wea03767_-_Flickr_-_NOAA_Photo_Library.jpg This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties. For the full story and full glory of picnic benches, see Lord Brassica's guide to picnic benches, one of Benchsite's most popular posts.
Kim Smith owns a dramatic web design company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She photographed the money bench in 2007. Her photo sets contains lots of friends and family and her landscapes make Michigan look like a beautiful place. In fact, Mackinac Island doesn't look so different from my own Paradise Island . . . http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimsmith/
Josef Pinlac loves New York City. His Somebody's Watching bench stacked with money (and a pair of eyes) was taken in NYC in 2009 and his photostream is full of joys of living in the city. Looks like one of them was the Polar Bear swim at Coney Island on January 1, 2014. Ohhhh, I wish I'd been there. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpinlac/
The multi-coloured money bench was photographed in 2007 in the Chicago Children's Museum. It's by 4_foto at http://www.flickr.com/photos/4_foto/
Mungo took some photos of benches on the Cuckoo Trail in East Sussex, where he was cycling just before Christmas. There are many benches and sculptures along the trail and no doubt they are fine in the greenery of summer. Let's just say that in December they weren't looking their best.
The blue bench with matching rubbish bin was photographed by Ildar Sagdajev in 2003 in Carrboro, North Carolina. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2003-07_Blue_bench_and_garbage_receptacle.jpg?uselang=en-gb
The blue stadium seats are from Jon Helgason at Dreamstime. © Jon Helgason | Dreamstime Stock Photos If you don't care for blue, here's a post about red benches . . . Or orange ones. Or romantic white ones.
There are truly different shades of blue, as in the beautiful photograph by Maher Berro, taken in June 2016. Maher describes himself as a multimedia designer | web specialist | user experience designer mysterious | insane and enjoy it | creative | cheeky | inspirational | live in my head most of the time and not in this world | long-life learner | spunky | tenacious | artful. He currently lives in Sydney and his photostream is well worth a look.
I do actually have a whole file of brilliant blue benches but I'm saving them for a less depressing post. Not fair, I know. Just when you need cheering up, I offer a post with the bleakest benches I've got. If you're stick of depressing benches, have a look at the smile benches from last summer. They're guaranteed to cheer you up on Blue Monday.
If for some reason blue isn't your colour of choice, we have lots of other colours here on Benchsite. Romantic white benches, for example. Or springy yellow ones. Maybe you'd prefer red? If you're in a holiday mood, how about black benches for Black Friday. Pretty purple benches? No problem. There are sunny yellow benches for spring and sparkly gold and silver benches for parties. There are 50 shades of grey and pink benches to coincide with the release of That film. For more uplifting, upcycled benches see the green ones at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/recycled-upcycled-repurposed-benches.html Somewhere there must be a colour you like!
Here is my bleakest bench of all time. It's located on a housing estate where Mungo's parents live and is used exclusively for dogs to pee against. We have to drive past it all the time. One of my new year resolutions is to get some bright paint and paint it. Blue, red, pink, anything. But not until someone clears away all the dog mess.