Monday 1 April 2013

Feelgood Medical Benches for World Health Day

April 7th is World Health Day and isn’t it a coincidence that here in Fribble-under-Par we’ve had some medical emergencies recently. First off, Root, son of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, was in the Paradise Island Hospital.

In due course I will explain how Root came to be in hospital; before that I have some very exciting medical benches to show you. But first, a medical emergency: here is a woman in a very pretty party frock who appears to have taken ill on a bench. 

image by O-Ten photography for

Then Lady Jessica Brassica was found indisposed on a bench at the replica Mall where she does her online shopping.  

My nurse friend Fenestra also succumbed to some sort of bench-related malady. She is curled up with her dog Fudge on a park bench and she looks a little peeky.

Medical symptoms can be complicated to diagnose so we called in Dr. Skill to find out what’s wrong. 

Dr Skill John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress

He concluded that the girl in the party frock had eaten too much cake. It was, after all, a tea party. On further investigation, Dr. Skill decided that Fenestra was just a bit exhausted after working a night shift. In Lady Brassica's case it’s Shopilius Extremis, which is caused by too much access to unlimited credit. See, I told you this post was medical.

Dr. Skill is one of those barbers who became a surgeon because he owned a knife. Here he is in his previous position as a barber in Drizzly.

Yes, he would have been shaving beards and cutting hair prior to taking the Hippocratic oath. Probably using the same knife.

This is the Hippocratic Bench from the second century AD. It is an early version of orthopaedic traction, invented by Hippocrates to create tension for setting bones.

You may have noticed that there's not a lot of difference between this medical bench and a rack used for torture. Indeed the principle is one and the same.

These days medical benches are more comfortable. Here is a Health Bench from Japan.

Fenestra says it reminds her of an old wooden roller coaster, which is a metaphor for life's up and downs. Working night shifts is definitely one of the downs for medical people. 

And so to the medical benches. 

Here’s one from the Life-is-a-Bench project in Rochester, Minnesota. This is the Mayo Clinic bench by artist Ann Riggott. The bench is sponsored by the Mayo Clinic, where Excellence is the Benchmark. That fits rather well I think: we get medical, we get benchmarks, and we get excellence all in the one bench.

There are many beautiful benches in memory of doctors, nurses and patients. 

The Endless Bench in Toronto is in memory of the artist's son.

Czech-born Lea Vivot made this bench in 1984 for the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. She likes people to be involved with her sculptures so The Endless Bench is engraved with 476 messages of love, hope and inspiration.

Here is a colourful mosaic bench made by Evi Olde Rikkert in the Netherlands. It's at the entrance to the geriatric department of the University Hospital Sint Radboud in Nijmegen.

Here is a plaza of benches at the Veterinary Medicine Building at Iowa State University honouring Dr. Issac (Ike) Hayes, a graduate of Iowa State University in 1937.  

image from

At the other end of the plaza is a bronze sculpture of The Gentle Doctor, a vet holding a wounded puppy. The puppy's mother is at his feet, looking up with concern. It was made by artist Christian Petersen, who was Iowa State University's sculpture-in-residence for 21 years. The Gentle Doctor was no doubt much gentler than Dr. Skill and probably more skilful too.  

There was another Dr. Issac Hayes. He was Dr. Issac Israel Hayes (1832-1881) a physician, politican and arctic explorer from Pennsylvania. During the American Civil War he was in charge of the 4,500 bed Union Army Satterlee Hospital in Philadelphia. Despite all these achievements, I couldn't find any benches in his honour. Perhaps somewhere in the Arctic buried under snow? 

Doctor Salter's Day Dream, was on Bermondsey Wall East in London from 1991.

Born in 1873, Dr. Albert Salter studied at Guys Hospital in London, became a doctor in 1889, and spent his life working with the poor of Bermondsey. This resulted in tragedy when in 1910 his daughter Joyce died, aged 8, from scarlet fever. The statue of Dr. Salter on the bench shows him in old age, watching his daughter Joyce with her cat nearby. Much loved by Thames Path strollers, the bench was stolen by metal thieves in November 2011. A pity because Dr. Albert Salter is worthy of having his own bench. The artist, Diane Gorvin, is currently working on a replacement statue of the doctor, his wife Ada, and Joyce. Local residents have so far raised £10,000 towards the project.

There are many kinds of doctors. Dr. Charles H. Townes, now age 97, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964. He has a bench in Townes Square in Greenville, South Carolina honouring his achievement. It’s something to do with the equation of the laser and matter principle. Don’t ask.

 wikimedia, public domain

Coincidentally, Dr. Townes's big idea for Stimulated Emissions came to him while he was sitting on a bench in Washington DC. His equation for Stimulated Emissions lead to the invention of the laser and is a work of art in itself. If you know what the London Tube map looks like, you'll have a pretty good idea. 

So what makes a good doctor? Is it bedside manner or clinical skill? Great medical minds have different opinions on this.

The Three Surgeons 1926, Usaldo Oppi

Not a lot of people know this, but if you think about it, dogs have all the qualities to be good doctors.

This doctor looks well qualified to me. He's Dr. Grizz Lee, the resident dog doctor at PR company TFI Envision in Norwalk, Connecticut. He knows how to wear a stethoscope and he seems to have a good bedside manner. He actually looks a bit like our GP here in Fribble-under-Par. If you're feeling under par, you welcome a guy like this.

On the basis of it takes one to know one, my imaginary friend Fenestra sometimes consults a dog doctor for her dog Fudge.

I was going to say what a nice Lab coat but I've been warned to cut down on the puns. 

I've been to this doctor myself with my dog Sit. He doesn't charge; all he asks is a good quality dog bone bench.

There are some benches for chiropractors around too. Here is the Park Bench Chiropractic in FrederickMaryland.

Pretty setting. But where's the bench?

OK. Lovely logo! I'd like one of these myself. 

While we're on the subject of backs, there is a very beautiful spine bench which is a tribute to a healthy spine. 

It's called the L5 Bench and it's by Canadian designer Marie Khouri. I first typed that as Marie Curie, who is yet another doctor. She's the one who discovered radiation. Sculptor Jon Hair makes Marie Curie and other bronze figures of famous people on benches at

And then there’s Doctor Bench. Dr. Edward Giles Dudley-Robey is a medical doctor and clinical researcher who is also the reigning two-time World Champion in bench press.

Of course benchpressing is relevant here because of its links to health and fitness, but I love the Doctor Bench logo because you get the two key concepts in the one logo. That doesn't happen every day. 

I know, I know. You’re worried about Root and if you're British, you’re wondering if I’m ever going to present the real doctor. Well, yes, I am.

This is Dr. Who, of course, in the episode called The Angels Take Manhattan. He just happens to be on a bench. If you’re British you will know Dr. Who in all his incarnations. If you’re not, you’ll just have to accept that Dr. Who is a very clever doctor indeed.

And if you are a regular reader of this blog, here are a couple of doctors you might recognise.

What on earth?????

Yes, it’s Miggy and Mungo. They’re doctors too. Sort of. Blue coats, not white. You wouldn’t call them out to a medical emergency. You wouldn’t ask them to treat a case of Shopilius Extremis. And they’d be useless at treating whatever’s wrong with Root. They might be ok if you wanted a paper read at an academic conference but put it this way: if Miggy and Mungo were on a plane and there was an announcement asking for a doctor in the house, it would be best if they stayed in their seats.

Now back to World Health Day. ‘Health’ ought to mean health in its broadest sense, don’t you think? So wouldn't that include benches in poor health?

Is there such a thing as a bench doctor? 

Indeed there is. 

Here is a wonderful video which shows the utmost care and attention paid to an ailing bench

So who puts up all these medical benches? 

Grateful patients, of course. 

This letter bench is situated in the entrance to the NHS Frenchay Hospital at Bristol. The concept of the bench is in the format of a folded postcard from an actual letter sent by a patient who stayed at the hospital.

The idea is to reassure new patients about the experience they will have during their stay. Wouldn't these words reassure you?

And what about nurses? Do they get benches too? 

Not so much.

Lots of people think nurses are angels though. They are portrayed as kind, patient, and devoted medical professionals.

The Good Samaritan 1914, Gabriel Emile Edourd Nicolet

It's worth remembering that it's a difficult job though: some nurses get ratty.

And some nurses are just a little too hipster.

One of the world's best known nurses is Florence Nightingale, she of the lantern.

It was on this modest bench at her childhood home in Hampshire that Florence Nightingale first got the call to nursing.

Nurse Nightingale worked in the battlefields of the Crimean War and is credited with saving many lives.

This January 19, 1916 cartoon is from the satirical magazine Punch and this scene is from World War I, where nursing conditions were very difficult. 

There are some benches in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada which look out towards the Rocky Mountains and Mt. Edith Cavell. A splendid view for a splendid nurse.

Edith Cavell was nursing in Brussels when the first world war broke out.

She helped more than one hundred Allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium but she was arrested and executed at dawn on October 12, 1915. I couldn't find any benches but here is a monument to her in London.

Ordinary medical people get benches too. A doctor in Yarmouth Isle of Wight has his own bench in the Wightlink ferry terminal, which means it is seen and sat on by all the foot passengers leaving the Isle of Wight.

 This benchsite prompted me to write the following poem:

Doctor Drummond’s Bench

well built and healthy
a vital sign, heart
of the waiting room
a caring bench
registers quickened pulse
of the soon departing

That's it for the medical benches. 

You'll be pleased to hear that Lady Brassica recovered quite quickly from her bout of Shopilius Extremis. All it took was a good strong espresso and a few minutes with her high heels off. 

My nurse friend Fenestra had a good day's rest after her night shift and she's ok too.

Rest After Duty 1956, Lev Kotlyarov

So now I expect you’re dying to know what happened to that toff-about-town, Root Brassica. You’re not? Well, that’s up to you. You can stop reading here and go back to sending a thank you bench to your GP or watching an old episode of Dr. Who.

Root went to hospital. Here on Paradise Island we have a rather nice little cottage hospital - St. Smiley's.

It's one of those National Health Service hospitals which are at the heart of the community. It's a great service and, as with all NHS services, free at the point of delivery. It has dedicated staff and an Imodium Bench which is too often the target of vandalism.

Did Root need surgery? 

No. Though taking a hammer to him sometimes seems like a good idea. 

The Surgeon Eugeny Vesilyevich Pavlov in the Operating Theatre 1888

For anyone interested, here are Root’s hospital notes:

St Smiley's Hospital

Patient’s name:  Root Brassica

Birthdate:          April 1, 1994

Address:            Drizzly Manor, Fribble-under-Par

Admitted with:    Tamsin Pink (girlfriend)

Next of kin:        Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly (Father?)
                         Lady Jessica Brassica née Kohlrabi (Mother)

Symptoms on arrival

The patient was brought into hsp at 10.04 pm with diarrhea, onset while at the bus stop with his mates. Temperature and BP normal

Condition on arrival

8 pints of Shoeshiner's Spit, drunk at The Duck and Dog Collar from 7 pm accompanied by four packs of pork scratchings and a prawn biryani from the Anglobangla takeaway

Patient’s girlfriend said he had taken aspirin early in the evening due to a hangover from the night before. The aspirin was given to him by the girlfriend, who works in the local pharmacy. On examination of the drug packaging in the patient’s pocket, it emerged that he had in fact taken a very strong laxative as this had mistakenly been given to him instead of aspirin. He had taken a double dose as he was keen to get rid of the hangover


1) Excessive consumption of laxatives
2) Excessive consumption of alcohol
3) Excessive consumption of junk food
4) Stupidity


Patient was kept in over night and warned against exceeding maximum dose of non-prescription drugs

At the nurses' station, feelings were unanimous: 

After all that expense to the National Health Service, Root felt better and was discharged the next day. 

But not before he became friendly with Staff Nurse Innocent, who works in ICU.   

Later, Lord Brassica's horse Tonks made himself at home in the hospital.

I don't think Florence Nightingale would approve. Nor would any of the doctors and nurses presented here, including Miggy and Mungo. 


I first saw the girl in the party frock at Natanya Waybourne's blogspot at It was photographed by Chris Oaten at O-Ten photography  The blog post, from November 3, 2011, is called Too Much Cake and features some very beautiful tea party dresses made by Natanya and sold from her shop at

Dr. Skill is from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678). He's well known in Fribble, where there's someone who fancies him. Did he send her that hearty Valentine download? As for Shopilius Extremis, there's a lot of it about. And remember that Shopping is Not Just for Christmas.  

An interesting history of The Hippocratic Bench from the second century AD is at

Lady Jessica Brassica is married to Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. Lady B is a fashionista and former model with Studio Joop from Overbearing in Holland. Now she has her own fashion house at Ballyfrumpy in County Offhand in Ireland. She loves having poetry read to her by Young Male Readers dot com but most of all she loves shopping.  Do we have shopping benches here on Benchsite? We certainly do. And come Black Friday we pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap. 

Tamsin is a sweet local girl who works here in Fribble-under-Par in the Not Quite Good Enough pharmacy. Ever a follower of fashion, Tamsin likes to try anything new. She has a rather odd perspective on life, as shown in the post she helped me with about big and small benches. If you think size doesn't matter, you ought to see it. 

Root is the son of Lord and Lady Brassica of Drizzly.Whilst Lady B is gorgeous and Lord B is wealthy and personable, Root has none of these qualities. In fact, he has no qualities whatsoever, as became apparent in my Bus Stop benches blog. Did Root marry Tamsin? See what happened at their Scottish Wedding a couple of years back.

Tonks the horse is the much-loved animal companion of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. 2015 was The Year of the Horse, so Tonks came into his own. See the terrific range of equine benches that show the true character of horses people born in the Year of the Horse.

The beautiful Health Bench from Japan costs £3,039.33 or 435,750 yen. It's from They will deliver but there is a warning that if you live in Hokkaido, Okinawa or other remote islands, it will cost more. Fenestra has suggested it would make a good rollercoaster on the Fribble seafront. I wonder what it would cost to post it across the world to Paradise Island? For more creative and elegantly designed Japanese benches see what Emiko, Kimiko and Noriko brought to Fribble last spring. 

Lea Vivot is from Prague in the Czech Republic. She has exhibited in the Royal Academy of Arts and lectures about art all over the world. Her Endless Bench was installed in front of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children on University Ave in 1984. She donated it to the hospital in memory of her young son, who died in 1978. The bench is engraved with 476 messages of love, hope and inspiration. The artist writes, "I invite everyone to touch my work and become part of my composition." Another of her sculptures can be seen if you're wondering what are the 31 things there are to do on a bench

The mosaic bench at Nijmegen is at the entrance to the geriatric department at University Hospital Sint Radboud, Reinier Postlaan. The bench was made by Evi Olde Rikkert and photographed by Willem Nabuurs on his tour of the Netherlands. Willen has put this image in Wikicommons. His photos have featured on Benchsite before from

The Mayo Clinic bench is by artist Ann Riggott. It's part of the Life-is-a-Bench project in Rochester, Minnesota.  This project includes benches commissioned by a variety of artists and sponsors. It's well worth a look at their website to see the creativity inspired.

So what makes a good doctor? Is it bedside manner or clinical skill? That's a matter for discussion. The Three Surgeons 1926, is by Italian artist Usaldo Oppi (1889-1942). He studied with Gustave Klimt and served in both world wars before turning his attention ti religious paintings from the 1920s.

Many thanks to for the images of the beautiful Letter Bench at Frenchay Hospital. The bench is made from oak timber wood and has hand carved writing supported on a stainless steel frame. Its size is 2500mm wide x 900mm high - it would probably cost quite a lot to post.

This image of Dr. Grizz Lee is from 2003 so he may have retired by now. Thanks to Liz at  Based in Norwalk, Connecticut, they do branding, packaging, promotion, and digital and corporate communications. 

The Dr. Charles Hand Townes bench in Townes Square, Greenville, South Carolina is by Brian Scott, 2008.

Many thanks to Chris at Iowa State University for his research about Dr. Issac E. Hayes and the artist Christian Petersen. Petersen was born in Denmark and came to the United States with his family in 1894. He was the first university sculpture-in-residence and held the post at Iowa State from 1934 to 1955. He created twelve major works on the Iowa State campus, including The Gentle Doctor bronze.  

Martin at supplied the image of Dr. Salter's Day Dream and also his biography. The website presents a fascinating walk through London's Dockland and other locations in Britain. Dr. Salter's statue and that of his daughter and cat are all by Diane Gorvin. The artist writes that her statue "represents the daydream of an old man remembering happier times when his 'sunshine' was still alive."  After Dr. Salter and his bench were stolen in 2011, the Joyce and cat statues were put in storage for safe-keeping. 

Dr. Edward Giles Dudley-Robey, aka Doctor Bench, is a medical doctor and clinical researcher who is the reigning 2011 IPL World Champion in the 181lb./82.5 kg open division in the bench press. He was the 2008 GPC World Champion in the 165lb/75 kg sub-master division, and the world bronze medalist for the open division in the bench press.  He is a five-time member of Team USA and a 25 time record holder with current state, national, international records in six different federations. In addition to all this bench pressing, he has his Medical Doctorate (MD) and is an expert in Integrative Medicine. His website is at

Yes, Miggy and Mungo both have PhDs, which technically makes them doctors. The photo is from Mungo's graduation. Miggy got her PhD so long ago that . . . well, let's just say she was a barber-surgeon at the time. 

The Sick Bench just-for-laughs video was filmed in May 2012. Many thanks to Gags Just For Laughs for making it available. You can watch it at

The broken down bench is from  You'll be pleased to know that, like Root and Lady Jessica and my friend Fenestra, the broken down bench has been restored to full health. 

See the website to find out how it was done. Goes to show what a good bench doctor can do. 

bcgrote lives in California and has way too many interests, including animal photography. Sit Stay Heal is a bench from the Gaslamp District of San Diego, where she comes from. It was photographed in 2008 in front of the Gaslamp Hilton

The Dog Doctor illustration is from unNaturalinspiration at  A print of the Dog Doctor currently costs $12.99. If you prefer cats, there's a Cat Doctor too. And a Benchsite blog about cat benches, edited by the ever difficult beautiful Meredith. 

The Tenino Dogbone bench is from Marenakos in Preston, Washington. They make a variety of granite dogbone and other types of benches.

If you like dog benches, have a look at  And there are more small, large and faraway dog benches at  On the other hand, if you prefer cats, let Meredith show you some great feline benches. Maybe you like rabbits: bunnies are not just for Easter you know. 2014 is the Year of the Horse, of course, of course. Sheep? We've got some Baaaaaad ones here on Benchsite, along with some mischievious  monkeys. Cows? We've got those too Cream of Bovine Benches. Finally, see which animal benches Noah saved on the Ark

Many thanks to Dr. Robert Romano at Park Bench Chiropractic for the logo and the other image of clouds and trees. The Park Bench doctors have an informative and readable blog at   

The very beautiful L5 Spine Bench was designed by Vancouver-based sculptor and designer Marie Khouri. It was exhibited at the IDS West show in 2010.

Nurses are the heart of healthcare so there is a whole Benchsite story just about nurses. It's for International Nurses Day 2016 and includes lots of nurses and a few benches.  And a rather unusual nurse uniform too. Revealing, yes. Some people think it's perfect for ICU. 

Barbara Hart makes all sorts of wonderful Little Wood People. The Old School Nurse is two inches tall and costs $20.  Barbara's shop is at   Does anyone remember The Nit Nurse?

The beautiful painting of the Red Cross nurse was done in 1914. The artist is Swiss, Gabriel Emile Edourd Nicolet (1856-1921). 
Florence Nightingale's childhood home was Embley Park near Romsey in Hampshire. Her call to nursing came in 1837 when she was 17 years old. She became well known through her work in the Crimean War and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Santa Filomena (The Lady with the Lamp.) She died in 1910 and is buried in East Wellow in Hampshire. The bench photo is from the American Association for the History of Nursing at  I don't have their explicit permission to use it but as the purpose is educational here, I hope they won't mind. 

The image of Florence Nightingale and the Nightingale doll are from Debbie Ritter at Uneek Doll Designs. Debbie makes dolls for all sorts of people. Florence costs £27.63 and is available from  Debbie's blog about her work as an artist is at

Edith Cavell was born in Norfolk, England in 1865. She trained at the Royal London Hospital and worked as a matron at the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels. She was executed by firing squad in Brussels on October 12, 1915. This image of the monument was provided by William Wallace at  

The three cartoons are from the January 19, 1916 volume 150 edition of Punch, made available by Their statement reads: 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 The terms of the license are that I publish the statement. Which I have done. So there. 

My poem Dr. Drummond's Bench appears in Benchmarks, by Shore Women Writers, 2011. I have written quite a few medical poems and have been rather successful in the Hippocrates international poetry competition in recent years.  This year my mental health poem Dysthymia and the Netherlandish Proverbs has been commended. As a career choice though, I'm sure being a doctor would be more profitable than being a poet. In fact, being a barber would be more profitable than being a poet, if only I owned a suitable knife. 

Rest After Duty (1956) was painted as a dedication to doctors. The artist is Russian, Lev Kotlyarov. 

The Surgeon Eugeny Vesilyevich Pavlov in the Operating Theatre 1888 is a painting by Russian artist Ilya Repin (1844-1930). Repin is an important figure in bringing Russian art into the mainstream of European culture.  His Realist art makes social comments through portrayals of the Volga barge haulers and people returning from political exile, as well as many other portraits of royalty, scientists and figures from Russian history.

The strict-looking nurse who wants a cure for stupid is from Fringepop, an etsy shop in Atlanta, Georgia. It's full of  8x10 art prints including hipster, pin ups, zombies, steampunk, mermaids, witches, Edgar Allan Poe, Abraham Lincoln, cabinet cards, owls, taxidermy, flappers, octopus, fine art, lowbrow art, and surreal art. Fringepop also has a large selection of roller derby, horror goth, retro kitsch, and circus sideshow. They also love art deco, flapper, and art nouveau pinups and gorgeous deco mermaid art. They specialize in Victorian, medical, sideshow, and other oddity art along with many whimsical animals including squirrels, owls, deer, and ravens. As if this weren't enough, Fringepop loves macabre gothic themessuch as skulls and anatomical art. Favorites also include funny designs with retro sayings and a kitsch quality. 


  1. This was most entertaining, I loved it! :) Thank you ever so much for letting Florence be a part of this, it was truly an honor and a treat to be a part of! :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. Your Florence is an inspiring and necessary part of the story. Whatever would we do without her?

      Best wishes,


  2. Greatest post about benches that I have ever read. Well done!

  3. Many thanks, Anthony. So pleased to hear you enjoyed it. Just out of curiosity, I wonder how many posts there are about benches . . . Lots of photographs of benches, yes. But I thought it was time they told their stories.

    All the best,


  4. Hi Miggy, what a fantastic project you've started! I'll be back later to actually READ the post carefully. I can tell already this blog is special. You are now in the sidebar of Tapirgal's Daily Image: - I'm not sure if you found the photo you asked about on Tapirgal's Daily or on my personal blog. I will be back :-)

    1. Wow! I'm really pleased to be in the sidebar of Tapirgal! Thanks for your kind comments about the blog. I saw your wonderful Belize photo at tapirgal, Astoria Daily Photo. Can't wait to use it in the forthcoming Bus Stop post. Readers are in for a treat.

      Best wishes,