Friday, 1 February 2013

Gambling on love in Las Vegas

Not a great bench city, but Las Vegas is the City of Love and when it comes to love, sometimes you have to take a gamble. 

And yes, it's true, Mungo and I met on a beach bench. Although he's imaginary, I spotted him right away.

The bench was in California. You can tell because there are little surfer heads in the water. Mungo had been imaginary surfing since dawn and was glad to be out of his wetsuit. 

Don't worry: this whole post isn't going to be just about Mungo and me. You're going to see some fabulously romantic benches. (Golly, I can almost hear Eddie, my Inner Editor here. Maybe it's time to bring him back?)

My friend Miggy and I were travelling together in California and although she too is imaginary, Migs was behaving badly. For example, here's where she sat when we couldn't find a bench at Long Bench Beach Marina. 

I was rather forward in those days so I suggested to Mungo that we ditch Miggy and drive to Las Vegas in his beautiful blue Chevy convertible.  We set off. 

However, when we got to Palm Springs Miggy popped up in the passenger seat next to him. 

"How did SHE get here?" I wailed.

We three drove across the Mojave desert to Las Vegas, where Miggy decided to find a man. She flaunted herself outrageously outside the motel.

Eventually she informed us that she had met the man of her dreams. Thank goodness for that, we thought. Now that she's occupied we can go out and look at benches.

Las Vegas is a gambling mecca so there were card benches, of course.

This Deuces Wild chair puts a whole new meaning on the concept of deck chair: it's made of 350 packs of retired playing cards.

But then, everywhere Mungo and I went we kept seeing romantic benches. The first one we saw was this beautiful bench covered in hearts. How romantic is that?

Then there was the Kissing Jim Rocker, which is designed so that loving couples can sit very close, side by side.

On another bench this lovely rabbit couple were all loved up, gazing into each other's eyes.

Outside the You Betcha casino this couple were making music together and although they don't look very healthy, they seemed to be having a nice time.

Las Vegas was swinging in those days. We saw this exquisite little orange bench occupied by a sterling silver couple.

There were wedding chapels everywhere, and lots of empty benches just waiting for people to come in and make their vows.

This beautiful bronze sculpture melted my heart.

sculpture by Boris Kramer at

There was love all around, that's for sure. 

Is there a message here? I wondered.


There was.

I was more assertive in those days. I was willing to take a gamble. So when we got on the Skyline ride, I asked Mungo to marry me. 

He reacted quite well I thought.

Well, put it this way, he didn't put up too much of a fight.

Our marriage was always on the cards, I told him. We've got to follow suite.

Mungo mumbled something about the relationship not surviving the puns (or the clipart.) But we dragged ourselves up and down The Strip looking for a wedding ring. 

Don't you just love the idea of this park bench lovers ring made of silver? I do.

But then I loved this too: the Mr. Bench ring by Maladelosnervio Hysterical Symptoms. 

Just the thing! I cried.

Call me fussy, said Mungo, but I don't see the need to get the Red Cross involved.

As a wedding present, Mungo gave me a mirror bench ring holder.

There is space for nine rings. How many times does he think I'm going to get married?  

We finally came upon the perfect wedding chapel.

Look! There's a 24 hour drive-up window!

Well, I said, if it's good enough for Joan Collins, it's good enough for me.

We turned around and there was Miggy. We told her about our impending wedding and she was thrilled. But first she had someone she wanted us to meet.

Not yet, we said. For the drive-up window ceremony, we've got to get a bigger car. And my wedding dress.

There was so much gambling going on that Miggy thought I might be bluffing.

Bluffing 1885, John George Brown

Golly, don't they have an age limit in Las Vegas?

Apparently not. Anything goes, as long as you hold the winning hand.

The Winning Hand, Gaetano Bellei (1857-1922) 

So then everything was ready. Before the ceremony, I posed on the bench outside the chapel in my dress.

I don't know about you but looking back, I'm not sure this dress really suits me.

So Mungo and I were married in an imaginary four-minute ceremony, conducted at the drive-up window. 

All worked out well, which is fine, though if it hadn't, there was a four-minute divorce place right next door.

We went into the back room of a casino for a quick game of cards with an older woman who really knew her stuff.

Aunt Balda's Pasttime 1886, Elun Danielsen-Gambogi

She looked a bit like Miggy. I'd have bet on it. 

Yes, it was Miggy. 

So where's this guy you want us to meet?

That evening, newly met and newly married, Mungo and I walked down The Strip to meet Miggy at The Boardwalk Casino, right next to the 76 gas station. 

We'd been promised a 59 cent roast turkey dinner and more than that, we'd been promised a massive surprise when we met her new man. And sure enough, there she was. And there he was. And there was the 59 cent turkey dinner. 

Phew, what a day! A new man, a drive across the desert, a wedding, The King, and a turkey dinner. It goes to show that everything might come together if you risk it. Yes, sometimes you just have to take a chance.


Grahamc99 is from London and he gets around. His sets show photos from all over the world, like the playing cards benches from Mexico City. Opening a set in Grahamc's photostream is like opening up a surprise package. Street art - yes - but there's chewing gum art, and so much more.   For a whole fiesta of Mexican benches, see

The Deuces Wild chair is by Benjamin Rollins Caldwell at   Sooooo clever! And naming no names, I can think of a few gamblers in my family who would have loved this chair. 

The hearts bench is in San Francisco, not in Las Vegas.  It was photographed by Claudya Martinez who has a very entertaining blog at   This was one of the first romantic benches to catch my eye and I'm very pleased to have it here. For more romantic heart benches see the hearty hearts Valentine's Day post for 2014.  

The bright red Kissing Jim Rocker is by Didi Dunphy at  She has some other interesting rocking benches which feature in a later post about Benches on the Move.

“I am a sculp

The bronze rabbit couple are from   There are lots of cute animal lovers on benches around but this couple are convincingly love-struck. They feature again, quite rightly, in the Easter post about sunny bunnies

The Day of the Dead skeleton couple are from I really like them! You can see them again in their Mexican home . 

The sterling silver lovers on the tiny orange bench is a necklace from the jewelry collection of Yael and Tal at  They have all sorts of bench jewelry in their etsy store so you may be seeing more on Benchsites. Their facebook page is at

The bronze lovers bench sculpture is one of many beautiful works by Canadian sculpture Boris Kramer at  The artist writes: I heat and form metal until it emulates expressions of human relationships. When heated, metal is very forgiving, which is why I choose it as a medium. Through art, I explore humanity. In particular, the ways that we are drawn together.

Keep Calm and Marry On is one of the many posters available from Caramel Expressions at  This one costs £8.95. Funnily enough, last summer a couple in Fribble had to take this advice about keeping calm and marrying on; see the three Scottish weddings that nearly went wrong. 

The Park Bench Lovers silver ring is by Bree Dentice from Auckland, New Zealand. She likes to work with sterling silver, found objects, wax and paint. Her shop is at You can also see her work at

The Mr. Bench ring is by Maladelosnervio Hysterical Symptoms. The red cross and the fingernails are one of her trademarks. She has a lot of weird and wonderful creations at 

The Mirror Bench Ring Holder is from and costs $10.99 or 1,570 yen. Not an expensive wedding present for me, was it? 

My wedding dress is modelled by Corpse Bride Emily, designed by Charity Beasley at    There are many Corpse Brides around but I think this Emily is gorgeous and I'd be proud to wear her dress.

Aunt Balda's Pasttime, done in 1886, is an exquisite oil painting by Finnish artist Elun Danielson--Gambogi (1861-1919). 

Street urchins in Britain had very little to do but passing the day playing cards kept some of them busy. The boy on the left looks like he miggt have been quite adept at bluffing. Bkuffing was painted in 1885 by John George Brown.

Painted by Italian artist Gaetano Bellei (1857-1922), the three cheerful monks had
lots of fun drinking, eating and gambling. In this delightful oil painting one of them has The Winning Hand. 

The iconic image of Fabulous Las Vegas is from though there are uncountable images of it around. 

All other photos from California and Las Vegas were taken by Miggy, Mungo or myself. We three travel frequently together. Catch us in Greece, where we just about didn't find the best benches ever, or in the Alps where we got high on alpine benches

Mungo is not my only husband. My other husband is His Excellency, who is not as easy-going as Mungo. For the story of my other marriage and how I met His Excellency, see
 And then, if that's not enough, you can find both my husbands together at their workbenches.

If you'd like to know what Mungo got me for Valentine's Day in 2014, have a look at the hearty heart benches. I'll give you a hint: it involves a bench . . .


  1. Wonderful post. I have no idea how you can keep track of all your imaginary goings and your real ones. I love you in your wedding dress and I think the dress suits you just fine. I also love the skeletons (calacas) on the bench.

  2. Many thanks, Unknown Mami. I do sometimes have to shake myself to make sure I'm real. I'm pretty sure sometimes I'm not real. Not really.

    Yes, the dress is lovely but sadly I've gained some weight since my Las Vegas wedding (too many of Miggy's cakes) and I can't squeeze into it anymore. Las calacas are fantastico. They cost $36.99 at Thrillomatic and I've asked His Excellency to fork out for my birthday.

    Best wishes,