You may have heard that life in Britain has been turned upside down.
Yes, a few weeks ago British voters chose to leave Europe, an event which has met with very different reactions.
"Hurrah, we've got our benches back!"cried Brexit voters like Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly.
Over at Drizzly Manor, Lord B and his wife celebrated the British Exit by drinking champagne on their matching thrones. Lady Jess wore her tiara specially for the occasion.
Others didn't take the news well.
This Remain voter is gutted.
He was hoping to travel round Europe for a couple of years, earning a few Euros and then buying a chateau somewhere in France.
One of my husbands is His Excellency. He's also a Francophile and the Brexit vote has caused him much anguish.
He is inconsolable.
He feels that the United Kingdom is going to crumble like a bench that has been vandalised in a public park.
Remain campaigners tried to convince voters that without being a part of the European Union, British benches are dead and buried.
But the voters didn't listen and now it's Brexiggedon.
"Britain is falling apart," said Emily, an engineer. She likes to spend her winters in Snowvenia.
Now she's going to have to stay in Britain and try to maintain our broken benches.
"Even if we manage to repair the damage, it isn't going to look good."
On June 23rd the Leave voting continued and by the wee hours of June 24th the Remainers sat on their benches in despair.
No one expected this result.
We wondered whether we ought to check those voting papers again.
Here on Paradise Island we voted 80-20 to leave. That's 80 people for Leaving and 20 for Remain. We're a very small island.
Lord Brassica's butler, Unwin, was the first to read the news. He ironed his newspaper at 5 am, as usual, and then let the rest of us know what happened.
On that fateful Friday my neighbours were celebrating bigtime down at the Duck and Dogcollar.
His Excellency referred to them as a bunch of medieval peasants, which isn't very kind but you have to forgive him; he is grieving about the tariffs there will be on his favourite wine and cheese.
My other husband, Mungo, is more worried about the loss of our tasty Italian pizza benches.
"And we won't be able to pig out on gelato benches."
"Never mind," I said,"At least you won't have to eat perfectly straight banana benches."
At the moment not much is happening because Brexit hasn't kicked in yet.
We're in BINO (Brexit In Name Only).
Mungo is worried that there won't be any benches at all once Brexit really hits us.
I try to reassure him. "We'll still have the bus stop bench down on the esplanade."
"No we won't, it got smashed up by the Fribble Agro gang."
"OK, how about the dog pooh bench on The Green?"
"Surrounded by dog pooh. And most of it's missing."
"What about the bench down by the river then?"
"Lost in the flood."
|©Nigel Chadwick @ geograph|
My husbands have a point: Britain's benches are in a mess.
They are battered and broken . . .
. . . overgrown and under-maintained.
"Like everything else in Britain," says His Excellency.
Mungo agrees. "It's a crime scene."
Or, as Lord Brassica would say, Britain is going to the dogs.
It's true. All over the country, beloved British pubs are closing.
Shops are closing.
Our multicultural society has become more divided.
|Figures by Jenny Clayden|
And of course, our benches have been pulled up by their roots.
Worse still, in the near future, give or take a couple of years, we might have to throw out all our classy continental benches and bring our own battered benches back from Europe.
Financiers in The City have warned us that our benches may disappear.
Eventually there may be only one British bench still standing and we will have to queue to sit on it.
"This is no joke," says my best friend Miggy.
Since Brexit her dream of a house on the beach in Holland has been washed away.
She has tried to pull herself out of the deep but it hasn't worked.
This past week, pale and exhausted, she has taken to her bed.
|my photo, artist unknown|
Since the Brexit vote Britain has been in a frenzy. Many of us have been glued to the news, trying to make sense of events.
We can't predict what might happen next.
We sit on our benches pondering the future.
|photo by Sheila B|
Some of us are very worried.
How ever are we going to crawl out of this mess?
There are different views on this.
Some people think we should just wait it out.
OK, our benches are very rickety at the moment.
We're one plank short of a trade agreement with Europe.
And yes, some politicians have lost their seats.
|photo by Sheila B|
Alarmingly, those with a knowledge of history warn that division and uncertainty could spark a revolution.
|photo from Pat McDonald|
Not in a good way.
Since the Brexit vote, many of our
We have been told a lot of porkie pies about the future.
You can't help but wonder how bad it could get.
|"Brand New Sofa (Almost)" by Marcel Oosterwijk / CC BY-SA 2.0|
It's possible to imagine Britain's benches as a pile of rubble.
"Just like our economy."
His Excellency thinks that when it comes to trading with Europe, we won't have a leg to stand on.
Britain's benches are broken, he says.
They're totally out of order.
Next thing you know, we won't be able to get books from around the world.
Others argue that it will all be ok.
Yes, the tables are missing now but it will all be a picnic in years to come.
Optimistic people think leaving Europe will give us a sunny future.
With independence and a lick of paint, British benches could get their mojo back.
On top of everything else, the weather here in Britain has been terrible. Throughout the spring and summer our little island has been buffeted by unrelenting wind and rain.
We're stuck indoors with nothing on our minds but Brexit.
We need a break from this.
The truth is, we are sick and tired of it all and wish we could just sit on our benches and enjoy the summer.
I know this is all rather depressing. Sorry.
You can see that I'm broken.
In fact, I know what I'm going to do.
I'm going to pack my
Why is a broken bench so moving? This is just one of the questions Andrea Joseph asked on her blog, andreajoseph24.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/i-drag-my-feet-like everyone. She got some great answers too: the fragility of life, the lost history, the beauty of decay. I love Andrea's illustrations on her Flickr photostream https://www.flickr.com/photos/andreajoseph/6995461668/
In January 2015 Annette Dubois photographed the colourful pile of dancers on a bench in an art installation called Bodies in Urban Spaces by Austrian artist Cie. Willi Dorner. http://www.ciewdorner.at It's a moving trail, choreographed for a group of dancers, where the performers lead the audience through selected parts of public and semi-public spaces. A chain of physical interventions, set up very quickly and only existing temporarily, allows the viewer to perceive the same space or place in a new and different way - on the run. The special quality of each place at various times of the day creates unique presentations. https://www.flickr.com/photos/73689755@N06/16517679996/ There's a whole alphabet of dance benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/an-alphabet-of-dance-benches-for-world.html
For a complete understanding of what's going on in Britain see our Brexit benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-ins-and-outs-of-british-brexit.html To summarise, 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). Voters were divided into Leavers (those who wanted to leave the EU) and Remainers, those who wanted to stay. 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, guys.
The European Union used to consist of 28 countries, including the UK. We were united in diversity, sort of. In 2014 we celebrated EU day here on Benchsite with a bench from each country in the Union. Let Blogda from Krappistan show you the brilliant benches. Or just look at the benches and ignore Blogda.
Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer here on
. He loves his horse Tonks, his
dog Pru,and his 1947 Landrover, in that order. He indulges his wife, Lady
Jessica Brassica with a replica mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, a beach
hut on the Esplanade, and unlimited amounts of cash for shopping. However,
it has emerged that he doesn't know as much as you'd think about farm animal
benches, especially cow
benches or sheep
benches. He knows a bit more about horse
benches, learned from his horse Tonks, and
possibly something about dog
benches from his dog Pru. What he really knows though, is picnic
benches. Paradise Island
A depressed man sitting on a bench is a self-made illustration by Ysangkok. It's from 2007 and is released into the public domain at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Depressed.svg Depression is a little bit of a theme here on Benchsite. For example, see what a Blue Monday we had when we had to look at a lot of dismal benches.
I have two husbands, one real, one imaginary. Mungo is a practical guy who loves travel and making things. His Excellency has a reputation for destruction, even when he means well. He's a philosopher and, to say the least, not a very practical person. You can appreciate his difficulties if you know his history. Mungo, on the other hand, keeps a good workbench. Read about both of them at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/workbench-wonders-two-husbands-lots-of.html
The brilliant Perspektivet Museum in Troms, Norway, has a huge array of photos showing life in Norway over nine decades. I have searched endlessly and I know the Norwegian word for bench is benk, and I'm pretty sure the lovely photo of the elderly couple on a bench is from their photostream. Sadly though, I don't have the link for it. I'll continue searching but there are 92 pages of photos in the Perspektivet Museum's photostream.
Kenny from Gloucester, UK is a keen golfer and Flickr/photoshop addict. He photographed a very nicely half-buried bench in 2013. His albums are full of great quality photos of, among other things, gardens, art, cars, and sporting events. Love the black and white ones! https://www.flickr.com/photos/kennysarmy/9118090471/
Emily Hardhat is our resident engineer. Besides making us a lot of classy toilet benches, she's an expert on bridge benches. Find out how she helped some Fribble girls into engineering. Yeah, right.
The two green benches were seen near Dartmouth Castle in Devon this spring. Let's hope they've been painted and repaired since then so that their green is pristine. For more green benches see the recycled, upcycled and repurposed green benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/11/recycled-upcycled-repurposed-benches.html
The haunting shrouded figures are not Remainers but are sculptures from Austrian artist Manfred Kielhnhofer http://kielnhofer.at/ The shrouded women are Time Guards, sculptures I saw at Cass Sculpture Park in West Sussex during a visit in 2010. (I have also seen them entitled Guardians of Time - not sure which is correct.) Either way, they are stunning. The sculptures have been on tour for many years in various forms; they are sometimes standing, or illuminated, or in colour, for example at the Festival of Lights in Berlin. http://www.artpark.at/2013/10/04/festival-of-lights-berlin-guardians-of-time-by-manfred-kielnhofer-contemporary-modern-light-art-festival/
The medieval peasant meal painting is attributed to Aristotle. It dates from the 15th century and due to its age, it is in the public domain. It is located at the Biblioteque Nationale, Département des manuscrits in Paris. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Medieval_peasant_meal.jpg?uselang=en-gb
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.
The pizza bench is by Liren Chen at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lirena/ It's one of the many delicious benches we saw on our tour of Tasty Italian benches at http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/tasty-italian-benches.html
In July 2015 we were all screaming for ice cream benches. The adorable little pig eating ice cream at a picnic bench is an image seen at www.redditpics.com.6DpGNia I'm always wary of posed animal pictures but this little pig looks like he's enjoying his treat. And as for the piglet-sized picnic bench . . . Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly knows a lot about picnic benches; let him be your guide.
It is a common myth that the European Union once dictated that bananas within the EU should not have curves in them. This is not true, but never was there such a fuss as the British population worried about being denied curvy bananas from its Caribbean Commonwealth. The banana bench was photographed by Matt Green in Gowanus, New York in 2012. Hobo Matt is walking every block of every street in New York City and photographing a lot of great stuff along the way. I wish I had such inspiration available here on Paradise Island. If I were to walk every street in Fribble-under-Par it would take me about three minutes. http://www.flickr.com/photos/imjustwalkin/6849110336/
The Agro gang here in Fribble-under-Par hangs out in the bus shelter and has a long history of troublemaking.
Biff, the purple one, is well known as a bench smasher. Nevertheless, the gang did me proud in a dazzling post about bus stop benches. 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. http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/bus-stop-benches-around-world.html We tried to make him go to rehab and he said no. And then you can update Biff's progress by looking at purple benches.
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 bench in the flooded lake was photographed in Mote Park for Geograph 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
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
Margreta Tveisme photographed an old bench at Fossevatnet, Lindås back in 2009. At that time she was new to photography and playing with Picnik. Readers reassured her it's a good black and white picture. https://www.flickr.com/photos/margreta/3800957070/
It'll soon be the Dog Bench Days of August again. Jay Melnick lives in Colorado and he photographs a lot of dogs as ArgosPaw's. This includes the brilliant Bulldog Reunion, taken in 2014. It's not easy to get dogs lined up on a bench so it's great to see this. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jaymelnick/14493841782/
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 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/
The multicultural people on a bench are from the papier mâché works of Jenny Clayden, an artist who lived and worked on the Isle of Wight. From life-size down to thumb-size, she designed and made figures of all sizes in papier mâché. She previously worked as a theatre designer in London where she made props, puppets, masks and a pantomime horse, all in papier mâché. Her approach was dramatic and colourful but she also developed the more serious aspects of her themes.
The uprooted bench was seen on the Karl Marx Allee in Berlin back in 2007. It was photographed by Matti Blume and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bench_karl-marx-allee.JPG?uselang=en-gb
Don't you just hate it when someone takes your bench away? The two woodland folk carrying a heavy log bench away are raganu kalnas - characters from Lithuanian folklore. They are at Witch Hill in Juodkrante, where a forest trail of sculptures was created in 1979. The photo, Long Bench, was photographed by IceM626 on his visit to Lithuania in 2013. Other albums in his photostream include New Orleans, Poland and Utah. https://www.flickr.com/photos/44358614@N02/13585640885
Dave Bloggs007 takes some glorious photos of benches in the Canadian Rockies. Among them there seem to be quite a few benches looking across the water at the city of Calgary from Crescent Heights. For this story I liked the one with no seat, no arms, and no back. In fact, it's hardly a bench at all. https://www.flickr.com/photos/davebloggs007/10010875093/
The statue of people queueing in the Great Depression is one I took many years ago. I regret to say I don't know when or where.
The disturbing clown picture 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!
The submerged bunker was on the beautiful beach at the magnificent dunes near Arcachon in France.
The drowned bench and the girl coming out of the water is a photograph called Broken by John O'Nolan, 2010. and I saw it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnonolan/ John is from Lincoln and is a passionate web designer, as well as an entrepreneur, programmer, blogger, & author. He's also a member of the WordPress UI Team. There are some stunning portraits on his photostream too.
The intriguing painting of a woman in bed is one I saw at the Southampton Art Gallery. I admired it so much that I neglected to make proper notes about it. I'm pretty sure the artist is Polish though.
Courtney "Coco" Mault has a photostream full of subjects you might not expect. Bathroom door handles that look like faces? Yes. An alpaca expo, certainly. A spam cooking contest? Of course. And then there's her Naughty Victorian Handbook where you stick your fingers, elbows, knees or whatever into the hole in the picture. You really have to see it. https://www.flickr.com/photos/contusion/albums/72157623562502998
Marc Murk is a technical writer from Brighton UK. He writes The Blog of Murk and also takes photos of stuff, for example different views of screws on a red bench, which I used in a previous story about anti-social benches. This time it's the three Cloned men from his PotatoShoppery album. This was 2006 and it was Murk's first effort: he got some advice (and praise) from expert fellow cloners.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/murk/147567202/in/album-72057594137404774/ It's a brilliant photo I think; he's captured the cloned men looking suitably pensive about current events in the UK.
Sheila B lives in Cyprus and the UK. She is a brilliant photographer of benches wherever she goes. Colours, angles, interesting settings; she spots them everywhere. You'll find many of her lovely photos throughout my Benchsite stories. There are two here, both from Cyprus. The girl with pulled up knees is at the very interesting and quirky Cyprus art school.
Back in 2012 Spanish street artist Isaac Cordal brought some intriguing little figures to cities across Europe as part of his Cement Eclipses project. As part of the Black River Festival in Vienna, he used Vienna streets at his canvas, where all kinds of strange things happened. Tiny people found themselves marooned in shopping trolleys. A little guy pokes up out of the concrete looking the worse for wear. The artist has something to say about all this cement: these pieces reflect our own decline. This is urban art at its best. See for yourself at http://cementeclipses.com/Works/blk-river-festival-vienna-austria/
I first thought the three people waiting on and in and bench might be Vikings but I was mistaken; it was the horned hat that mislead me. They are from the 1920s Berlin Project in Uccello's Second Life. The people are Doc, flanked by Harper on the left and Diana. Just so you know. The photo is by Uccello Poultry from New England in the USA. https://www.flickr.com/photos/uccellopoultry/14514275824/in/photolist-o7zswU
The Very Rickety bench sign was on Helen Danby's bench on the Isle of Wight. There are quite a few rickety benches on the Isle of Wight. Nothing like Paradise Island, where all our benches are beautifully maintained.
Pat McDonald from Boise has been a long-time correspondent with Benchsite. Sometimes he sends me photos that have an uncanny knack of being just what I need at the time. Here a man is pleading with Mark Twain, who is trying to read a book. I doubt very much whether they're talking about Brexit, but you never know.
Pinocchio was photographed on a bench in Orvieto in Italy. I found the photo in the Etsy shop of Haya Gold from Tel Aviv. Haya does fine art photography, fine art prints, and home decor. When Haya's friends asks her What's new? they know there will always be something new; her shop is constantly getting exciting new stuff. Most photographs displayed in the shop are on fine art heavyweight paper at the convenient size of 8" x 10", however all the photographs can be enlarged to almost every size and on any kind of material. www.etsy.com/shop/hayagold
Marcel Oosterwijk took the picture of the very dilapidated sofa and indeed lots of other clapped furniture lying around the streets of Amsterdam. He is a much-travelled graphic designer/web editor and has a good eye for all things urban. I love his Stacked Lives photos. His photostream is at https://www.flickr.com/photos/wackelijmrooster/4441173964/ "Brand New Sofa (Almost)" by Marcel Oosterwijk/CC BY-SA 2.0
Something weird has happened to Humpaa's photostream. I know I'm not making this up. Very recently I found a crashed out bench called Bankencrash, which I knew would be perfect for this story. As a link to the photographer, this is the best I can do. https://www.flickr.com/photos/65682181@N05
It was autumn in Mölle, Sweden. It was 2011. Mikael F took a lovely photo of a broken bench with red foliage growing through it. https://www.flickr.com/photos/miphages/15829061296/ We're falling for autumn benches here on benchsite http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/falling-for-autumn-benches.html And once the weather gets colder we have log benches too. And cake. Plenty of cake.
Anne is Mrs. Magic. She's 32 and lives in Musselburgh after seven years in Liverpool. She started with Flickr back in 2007, had a long break, and returned in 2011. She removed a fair few photos from her stream to make a fresh start and cut some ties. One of these photos, I fear, is a photo called Out of Order, which I saved long ago. It's a bench which is, um, out of order. For Anne's current photos, including benches, see https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsmagic/
Alexandra Xubersnak is a natural redhead and basically an unduly decent British girl exploring a few suppressed and narcissistic sides of her inner self through Secondlife and Flickr. Back in June 2012, while the good guys were watching football and the bad guys were fighting, she took refuge on a bench in front of a bookshop. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexandraxubersnak/7366601858/
Crossing Paths is a life-scale bronze sculpture of two older ladies chatting on a bench, cast by Seward Johnson in 1994 and photographed by Wally Gobetz, a prolific photographer of interesting artistic and historical works. https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/15741481687/ A retrospective of Seward Johnson's work presents an overview of the New Jersey sculptor's 50-year career through a lifetime collection of over 150 of his works.
Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. The grounds feature over 270 large scale contemporary sculptures and Wally has photographed many of them.
The missing picnic tables were in a park in Bracknell in the UK and were removed to stop bad behaviour. www.getbracknell.co.uk Lord Brassica is something of an authority on picnic tables and he is gutted to find that picnic tables can disappear like this. On the other hand, Bracknell has the longest picnic table in Britain, celebrated with a mass community picnic in summer 2012.
Exploratorium has a whole album of the total solar eclipse seen in Side, Turkey back in 2006. Best of all are the photos of people watching the eclipse. The Exploratorium is a museum of science, art, and human perception located at Pier 15 in San Francisco, California. They believe that following your curiosity and asking questions can lead to amazing moments of discovery, learning, and awareness and can increase your confidence in your ability to understand how the world works. They also believe that being playful and having fun is an important part of the process for people of all ages. https://www.flickr.com/photos/exploratorium/2700332734/
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
The iconic benchvertising KitKat Bench was photographed by Peter Zoon in 2012 in Cologne. https://www.flickr.com/photos/peterzen/8255933594/ For more benchvertising benches see http://benchsite.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/benchvertising.html
They Are Waiting is a sculpture by Nnamdi Okonkwo. It's in downtown Mesa, Arizona and it shows three rather curvy women on a bench, languishing in the sun. Nnamdi Okonkwo was born in Eastern Nigeria and now lives in Fayetteville, Georgia. He creates monumental sculptures and paintings which depict the vibrance and colour of life. Even without the bench I'd love this work. http://nnamdiart.com
Ebelien is a photographer in the Netherlands. Her photostream is full of fabulous photos of a wide variety of things, including the Sorry I'm broken bench. There are far too many broken benches in the world. However, according to the sign, the nice man is coming to make repairs as soon as he can. https://www.flickr.com/photos/-ebelien-/3952851462/
The sliced bread suitcase is one of those internet photographs which is so ubiquitous that its original source is impossible to find. Google sandwich suitcase and you'll see what I mean. Pages and pages of this same image. I have tried various design publications and have been unable to find it. I copied it from www.whatthecool.com