Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Ding Dong Benches for Christmas 2020

 Here on Paradise Island it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, 2020 style.

We've got angels. And we've got Christmas benches, of course.

My best imaginary friend Miggy is busy in the kitchen. We all want some figgy pudding and we want it right now.

We want chestnuts roasting on an open fire. 

Miggy: Unfortunately, the men of Fribble and Drizzly seem to be having a difficult time bringing in the yule log.

How hard can it be? In Victorian times, the children did it.

Yet in the dark streets shineth the garland guerillas.

They're bringing glad tidings of comfort and joy, whether we want them or not. 

Miggy: By the way, have you masked up for this story? I have.

Masked Woman 1920, Boris Grigoriev

I didn't think we'd need a mask for talking about Christmas on Zoom.

Miggy: "Obey the laws and wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws.” 

Don't be so dramatic. This is Fribble-under-Par you know, it's not Hollywood.

Miggy: Our little Fribble-under-Par may lie still but it's still Tinsel Town.

The stockings are hung on the benches with care.

Whether St. Nicholas will soon be there or not, I don't know. At the moment he seems to be benched.

Miggy: Well, at least he's keeping his distance.

My dog Sit has a very shiny nose. He doesn't look much like Rudolph though, does he?

Miggy: Not at all.  Nice mask though. 

See amid the winter's snow a great deal of Christmas decorations going up. 

My imaginary husband Mungo is trying to put up the lights on Miggy's house.

We have one or two decorations on our house too. To the earth we give great light.

Miggy: To the electric company we give great cash.

We're trying to bring joy to the world. But Elf and Safety is a nightmare.

Nevertheless, I'm dreaming of a white Christmas with every Christmas card I write. 

Miggy: I don't write that many now that Royal Mail is charging 85 pence for a stamp. 

But sure enough, it looks like all our Christmases may be white.

Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling yoo-hoo! I can't imagine why. 

Miggy: Maybe because they don't want to get any closer.

Snow has fallen, snow on snow. Snow on snow on snow. by Lucy Boynton

Miggy: That was in the bleak midwinter. A bit like now I guess.

Winter need not be bleak. Even in Russia they have Father Frost to look forward to.

And the Moscow lights.

Miggy: wow, these benches are nicely spaced out. 

Migs, could you stop referring to you-know-what. We've all had a tough year and I'm trying to make this an upbeat, Christmasy story.

Miggy: Fair enough. I'd like to run and have some fun before the snowpersons melt away. Which they will because they're too close . . .

But so it's been said many times, many ways: there's just too bloody much to do.

Miggy: I'm exhausted already.

I know. Me too.

Friends, Sergei Vinogradov (1869-1938)

Miggy: Space, Seashell, give me some space! 

It's ok, we're in the same bubble.

Miggy: Oh yeah, I forgot that. 

But if we can just get everything done, it looks like we'll have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

But first, we're gone a-wassailing all over town.

Some of the drinks are very good value this time of year.

Christmas time, mistletoe and wine. 

Miggy: Though of course mistletoe is a no-no this year. And the pubs are closing at 10 pm.

Stop being so depressing! 

Miggy: I'm not. I'm hoping to find a man to spend Christmas with. 

Would a snowman do?

No. He'd melt in my arms. 

What happened to the man you met last year? Kristoff somebody.

Miggy: Last Christmas I gave him my heart and the very next day, he gave it away.

You were frozen out. Sorry, Migs. 

Never mind. This year I want someone who's teetotal. 

Golly, that won't be much fun.

Miggy: And I'm looking for good old-fashioned fun this year. Skiing maybe.

Girl from Mora, Anders Zorn

Before you ask, yes, your bum looks big in this.

Miggy: Alright. A sled bench then.

Sleighbells ring! Are you listening?  On the Lego benches snow is glistening. 

It's a beautiful site.

Miggy: No, it isn't.  

Yes it is! 

Miggy: Oh, it's lovely weather for a sleighride together with . . . well, I'm not sure who. I haven't met him yet. 

You need to get out there in the festivities and mingle. There are men all over the place.

Winter 1932, Jose Clemente Orozco

Miggy: It's hard to get to know people when they're so anonymous.

Venice Carnival c. 1930, Alexandra Exter 

I find that I meet a lot of people in the swimming pool.

Sunscreen mask 1928

Noooo,  it's toooo cold.

My real husband, His Excellency, doesn't like the cold. He's not a jolly, happy soul. 

Miggy: When it comes to Christmas, he's a grinch.

He was going to go away for Christmas but I stopped him. 

Miggy: You said you'd have a blue, blue Christmas without him?

Yeah, and now I have to find him a present. Yet what can I give him, poor as I am? 

Miggy: Oh no, not the Christmas shopping thing again. You've already covered that in Black Bench Friday  Anyway,  shopping in a mask is really difficult.

The gifts are wrapped and under the tree. If we had any children they would be gazing open-mouthed, taken by surprise.

Yes, I have wrapped up our cats Rosie and Melissa.  That's not them in this package though.

Miggy: Are your cats properly protected by the way?

Of course. Same as the rest of the family.

Photo from 1918 flu epidemic

Miggy: Good. So what about presents then?

As for Mungo, I've got him an unusual gift this year: myhrr. 

 Miggy: It's not a suitable gift. Its bitter perfume breathes a life of gathering gloom. 

I didn't know that. 

What about an icicle bench then? It comes complete with its own goblin.

The Goblins' Christmas at

Miggy: it's a gift that leaves me cold.

Ding dong merrily on high! In the dark streets of Fribble-under-Par, we hear the angels sing.

 Miggy: And there's everlasting light shining upon the benches.

Miggy: In fact, if you look-ed up, you'd see a star.

Miggy: Forget stars. Unless you mean chocolate stars. 

You don't need chocolate. Come Bench Monday-before-Christmas it's a candy cane Christmas bench, as sweet as can be.

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy and cozy are we. 

Miggy: We're binge-watching Christmas specials, snuggled up together on our benches.

We're walking in the air. We're dancing on the bench-back sky.

©Alan Murray-Rust and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license

Miggy: Not everyone is decking the halls though. For some people, Christmas is just another day.

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, is a gentleman farmer so of course his work goes on year round. 

Miggy: His cattle benches are lowing.

The shepherds watch his flocks by night, though why they are all seated on the ground I don't know.

Miggy: Yeah,  there are plenty of sheep benches around.

Lady Jessica is Lord Brassica's most highly favoured lady. Here she is on a bench some years ago, when their son Root was a baby. 

Miggy: It's good to see Mary and Joseph in a stable relationship.

No, sorry. I have confused Lady B with Madonna here. 

Miggy: Not THAT Madonna. The one who isn't Like a Virgin. The one who actually is a virgin. 

This is Lady B with Root's wife Innocent. The Holly and the Ivy. 

Miggy: They're both fully grown.

That's Lady Brassica on the right. She's the holly. And although this Christmas portrait might suggest a loving mother and daughter-in-law, you should know that the Holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn. 

Miggy: Indeed. 

Meanwhile, designer Joop has made Innocent a shiny ribbon dress for Christmas Eve.

Miggy: As Lord Brassica would say, ding dong merrily on high.

And I saw Lady Jess kissing Santa Claus! 

Miggy: He got on his mobile and told quite a few people about it. 


But as this is the time for peace on earth and good tidings towards all men and Ladies, we'll say no more. 

Miggy: Silent night and all that.

Hey, I hear the jingling of bells! Here comes Santa Claus, big fat Santa Claus, right down Fribble Lane! In fact, there are four of them.  

Golly, Santa gets younger every year.

Miggy: These Santas are unmasked! They could go to jail!

Photograph 1918, credit to Raymond Coyne

Migs, I want you to stop putting these mask pictures in. It's very naughty.

Miggy: Well, Santa knows who's been naughty and nice.

Yes, and naughty ones get bundled away into the coal sack.

Miggy: that's horrible! 

Santa traverses afar bearing benches. He's left us a commemorative bench to remember him by.

Miggy: So here we are, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun.

Especially Tamsin and 
Garçon. They're in love.

And here's Tamsin and The Octopus Girl having a girly night out with some angels they heard on high down at the Dustpan and ipod.

Miggy: All in all, I guess we're walking in a winter wonderland. 

Yes. But you need to  sit on a romantic bench with the man of your dreams.

Miggy: even if I met a man I would need to go home and take my mask off.

Oh, I give up with you. 

It only remains to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Miggy: So, from all of us on Paradise Island  . . . 

                              A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! And stay safe


Linda Bowman picked up photography while going through chemotherapy eight years ago. It is now a part of her everyday life and reflects how she sees the beauty of the world. I am delighted to see that this includes benches in some very beautiful settings. 

You've probably guessed that it's not a yule log being bench-pressed. This is a photo of pararescueman applicants bench pressing a wooden log in a mud pit during a screening process held by the Air Force 306th Rescue Squadron in Tucson, Ariz. In this test the applicants do a timed 3-mile run, 1500- meter swim, calisthenics, and other various tasks. The photo was taken by Airman 1st Class Veronica Pierce, U.S. Air Force on April 21, 2006. This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

If you're fond of yule logs there's a special log bench post at  Warning: this post also contains cake. 

The Victorian Christmas card is from the Nova Scotia archives on Flickr Commons at   It's so great to see all these local archives coming into the Commons. Already I've used Florida, Newcastle and Tyne, Missouri, and some of the Northern Ireland, Canadian and Australian archives. What a treasure trove of stuff there will be from all over the world! 

Mike Cogh lives in Adelaide and photographed the Tinsel Bench in December 2011. It's included in Benches of the World Group. Mike has an extensive set of Humble Bench photographs at

'Making the Empire Christmas pudding' is an artwork by F C Harrison produced for the Empire Marketing Board sometime between 1926 and 1939.   For the really curious, here is the full list of ingredients.

As this is a Christmas like no other, it seems only fair to include some current issues about you-know-what. The vintage mask pictures shown are mostly from the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic when wearing of face masks became mandatory in many places. In San Francisco when state-wide infections passed 50,000, anyone seen not wearing a gauze face covering was subject to fines that ranged from $5 to $100 and the possibility of 10 days’ imprisonment. This was supported by advertising campaigns and jingles: “Obey the laws and wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws.” As wearing masks 'flattened the curve' in San Francisco, other cities around the world promoted mask wearing but the relaxation of the law proved premature. As the death toll rose again in a third wave of the disease – and despite the protests of the newly formed Anti-Mask League – mandatory mask-wearing was reintroduced for another six weeks at the beginning of the following year.

I regret that I am unable to provide sources for some of the photos because they have come off Facebook groups in long chains of Shares. The Russian photos Father Frost and the Moscow Christmas lights are two examples. Also, it would be nice to know who invented the surgical mask angel - it's a real angel for our times. 

Other images include: Venice Carnival, a painting done in the 1920s by Russian artist Alexandra Exter (1882-1949);  Girl from Mora Skiing, painted in 1915 by the Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920); Masked Woman 1920, Boris Grigoriev, Russia (1886-1939); Friends, by Sergei Vinogradov (1869-1938); Winter 1932 by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949); 

The benched Santa is from Asian Replicas, who make a huge variety of lifesize statues and furniture in the Philippines   Elsewhere on Benchsite you will find their edible benches such as tacos and ice creams. Youll also see their Siberian tiger on Noah's Ark at

Ryde Esplanade in Snow was taken by Lucy Boynton in December 2010. If you've ever had a ticket to Ryde, you'll know this is on the Isle of Wight where, usually, there isn't much snow. Lucy loves taking pictures and there are lots of great ones on her photostream at  I found the Ryde Esplanade snow benches at

You might have guessed that the prettily decorated little gingerbread house was too small to be Miggy's house. It's a Christmas decoration at a shopping mall in Porto Alegre in Brazil. I saw it at

If you ever need a brilliant card for a gay or lesbian wedding, you can find one at Mamamare. They have a whole range of gay wedding, love and romance cards and also this lovely Christmas card of domestic bliss round the Christmas tree. Luckily, there happens to be a little red sofa in the picture, so it's just right for Benchsite.

The dog in the Santa hat is a Merry Christmas dog, photographed by Miki Yoshihito, who lives in Sapporo City in Japan. Miki obviously likes dogs as there are a lot on his photostream, along with many interesting pictures of life in Japan.

Stacy Scissors in Tucson has the best name of all Etsy shops: Running with Scissors. She describes her shop as emo, scene, rockabilly, kitsch, rocker, and hardcore bling, in other words, stuff for the sweet and evil side of every girl. There is all kinds of jewelry, including razorblade necklaces and the bright and blingy Bah Humbug necklace. If you have a look at her shop, you're in for a treat. 

Christmas shopping already has a post of its own. I put it up when there were just 19 benches left til Christmas. It contains lots of great shopping ideas for the bench-centrics among us.

The little winter scene with sleigh ride is apparently not an official Winter village set, in case you need to know that. It's a 109 piece set that was available as a limited-edition for the 2012 holiday season. It was apparently free with the purchase of $100 worth of other Lego sets, or $15 as a stand-alone. So now you know. I saw it on Wikicommons at

Anna Mulhearn in Liverpool likes to relish the ridiculous and highlight the  hilarious. Her shop is Animal Hair Stuff, which sells, well, stuff, especially prints and greeting cards. This includes a set of greeting cards for Christmas featuring a cat wrapped up in green ribbon. No, it's not my cat, but I love the cards.

Back in September when my husbands were slugging it out over the Workbench post, I was lucky enough to find this beautiful Wassail workbench. It's from CuriousArtLab, which is described by its creator, Leah Palmer Preiss, as a wunderkammer of art, oddments and curiosities. There I found what Leah describes as a pair of Santa's elves, toasting each other for a job well done, at the end of a long day of woodworking on a tight deadline ... Their workbench is still scattered with the tools of their trade (inspired by Joseph's tools in Campin's Mérode Altarpiece), along with a generous bowl of wassail. Odd, curious, arty - what a shop!

R. Kurtz lives in Oakland, California  and photographed the blue tree lights in December 2011. This Garden of Delights is presented every Christmas season at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. He also photographed the house lit up with lights, which is not my house but a house in Chesapeake, seen at

If you've been living in Antarctica in a snow hut without any communication with the world you may not know that Frozen is the original Disney movie, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. To cut a long story short, Elsa's icy powers trapped the kingdom in eternal winter back in 2015. And in 2019 there was Frozen II, so we're feeling colder than ever. Let the Storm Rage On!

Kristoff is Frozen's rugged iceman, and Sven his loyal reindeer. Please note also: the reindeer pictured is chocolate. There is also a snowman involved, name of Olaf. Apparently Darko tried out for the part of Olaf in the Snowvenian version of the film but didn't get it, which is why he's here shovelling snow for me. For the full story of Frozen Snowvenia see

The Brrrrrrrilliant Brrrr bench was photographed in Decatur, Illinois in December 2006. The photographer is Tim O'Bryan, who now lives in Chicago.

Jim Henderson photographed Ice Hot Passion in Madison Square in New York City on February 11, 2010. Whose passion? Well, the snow woman stares coldly ahead as her mate loses his head (neck not reinforced by twigs) smooching with a warm woman on a sunny afternoon.   For some hearty Valentine benches, see

Tigloulou's photo albums show that she is very well travelled but her special place is Chamonix in the Alps. She photographed the lovely sleigh bench there in February 2006.

I get high on mountains too; see my alpine bench adventure at

Roving Girl loves light and all things that glow. And she has a secret: she loves candy canes so much that she conjured up a magic candy cane vine and now she can have candy canes all year round. Good idea! Roving Girl does a lot of Bench Mondays so there are some great bench pictures on her photostream, as well as many others.

Pop Art Decoration is a young company specialising in decoration and visual design for homes and businesses. They have a whole range of themed products, including life-size animal furniture like the cow sofa.

The sheep bench is one of several bench sculptures called Eastwick Park Farm, made by Rosalie Sherman in 1983 as part of the ongoing Philadelphia Public Art project. It includes a vast array of public art: 846 sculptures, fountains, mosaics, memorials and, of course, benches, scattered all around Philadelphia. There are driving site tours and maps for locating the art. The scale of the Philart project is really quite something and it's being added to all the time.

Madonna and Child on a Grass Bench is a painting from about 1470. I am not sure who the painter was but Dieric Bouts is referred to and he lived from 1450-1499 so you get the basic idea - this painting is old. It is oil and tempera on an oak panel and was acquired in 1928 by the Rijksmuseum Twenthe in Enschede. It's still there so should you find yourself in the eastern Netherlands, you could pop in and see it.

Santa on a bench making a mobile phone call is not something you see every day. Papa Noel was in Distrito C in Madrid when this photo was taken by M. Peinado in 2009. I found it on Wikimedia at

The Four Little Santas on a bench were at the Great Santa Run in Edinburgh in 2009. They were photographed by emusing Emma, who saw, among many others, fat Santa, skinny Santa, running Santa, walking Santa, limping Santa, Santa on crutches, happy Santa, sad Santa, waving Santa, photographer Santa, green Santa, real Santa, Santa paws, Mrs Claus, little elf, little reindeer, sniffly Santa, yawning Santa, eating Santa, drinking Santa, baby Santa, fast Santa, slow Santa, naughty but nice Santas, romantic Santa, solitary Santa, twin Santas, old Santa, young Santa, runaway Santa, drumming Santa, and my cousin Santa! Some of them are on Emma's photostream at

Mandy Parsons took the photo of the lovely white Christmas bench with a wrapped package, which is definitely not my cats. Mandy photographs lots of holidays, concerts, places, and stuff she's made. Her photo sets are at

On the 'icicle bench' two goblins peek over the top of a decorative line. This image is from M.E. (Elizabeth) Anderson's The Goblins' Christmas, published in 1908. Illustrations are by Alexander Sharp. From the Project Gutenberg e-books. 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 at

Jodakila Galang (Jodax) took the photo of the coloured lights in 2008. It was part of a Garden d'Lights in Bellevue Botanical Gardens near Seattle. That's all I know about Jodax but I really enjoyed his photo sets at

Choo Yut Shing from Singapore took the photo of the bench under a red star. It was in the pedestrian mall, Orchard Road, during the festive season in 2010. Choo likes benches and there are some brilliant ones in his photostream at

Balancing Act is a person who appears to be walking on top of a bench in Colwick Country Park. It was photographed by Alan Murray-Rust for Geograph in February 2009.

Little Chameleons in Bishop Stortford make handmade personalised children's toy boxes and furniture. This includes the little blue Naughty Bench. SuperNanny would surely approve.

Christopher Rotter in New York makes lovely little people of all kinds,including the couple on the bench. They might be part of a Christmas Village, or they may be someone I know here in Fribble. To see all these lovely little people go to Christopher's shop Leddy Slack at

Randy Britt (Randiana) lives near Santa Claus, Indiana. Seriously. Randy tells me that Santa Claus is a small town in southern Indiana that was founded some 60 or 70 years ago with one man's dream of building a small "town" specifically based on tales of Santa. Early on it was a very small collection of specialty shops for all-things-Christmas, later to be incorporated as the town of Santa Claus, complete with a US Post Office that hand-cancels mail at Christmas time with an ornate post mark. Many locals carry their Christmas Greeting cards over to be mailed with that post mark. Randy admits that the town goes a little over-the-top with decorations for Christmas!

Abigail Noonan is a graphic designer in Washington DC. She photographs her friends and activities, including the beautiful Christmas bench with a red bow, on her photostream at

Many of the Fribble and Drizzly folk have turned out to wish you a merry Christmas. In the photo below, right to left in the back row is Police Constable Willie Wyme, Mikey the Mariner, Root (Sixth Earl of Drizzly), Tamsin, Angel Angela, Noah, and Miggy's Mum. Front left is Emily and Tonks the horse. Tonks would like it known that he is not lean and lank and he has no intention of dashing through the snow pulling a lot of lazy people in a sled. 

In the middle are Lord Brassica, Lord Brassica's dog Pru, Tamsin's baby Isambard (origin unknown), and, of course, Hello Kitty. Each of these has a story to tell on other Benchsite posts. If you're meeting them for the first time, go to Who's Who in Fribble and that will tell you all you need to know. 

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