Monday, 22 April 2013

Monkey Business on St. George's Day

photo by Chris McAlister

It's St. George's Day on April 23rd and what better time to look at dragon benches? St. George is the patron saint of England, the one who slayed the dragon in blah blah blah

Eddie:  This is not a good start. This is boring. And remember, you promised to get a primate photo in at the start.

Welcome back, Eddie, my former Inner Editor who has been away for a while.

Eddie: Away? You fired me. I've been on garden leave since February.

True. But under pressure from many readers and the good people of Fribble-under-Par, I have asked Eddie back to edit this important St. George's Day post. He came back, under certain conditions.  

Eddie, I actually think there should be a dragon bench here rather than a picture of you.

Eddie:  A picture of me. Or else.

So here is a picture of Eddie 

It's very small. I'm not sure it captures my true character. 

It does. But now I want to get on with the dragon theme. Readers have been promised dragons for St. George's Day.

One dragon, one primate. That's what we agreed. So here's a very interesting monkey bench from Chinatown in San Francisco. 

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Eddie, you've already put two primates in and I haven't got a dragon in yet.  

OK then, out of the goodness of my heart, you can do two dragons in a row.

Great! So here are two beautiful dragon-inspired benches then. First, this gorgeous rosewood bench, painstakingly restored by Master Craftsman Eric Saperstein, who is one of the Artisans of the Valley in New Jersey. 

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And here is a cheerful monkey on a very small bench. 

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I think the monkey makes the bench photo much more interesting.

Do you notice that I only got to show one of the two dragons benches you promised me? 

Sorry, but it's not my day to care.

Here is a very nice sock monkey. 

image by

I'm not sure about sock monkeys for this post. This is a rather nice one though, I have to admit.

And it's on a bench. As are these people in an art gallery. 

Eddie, that's you!

Yes, I was quite an attractive baby. 

And quite a photogenic adult as well.

Do you like this picture of the artist? 

No. I like this unusual cedar dragon by Preston Manganaro at the Outside In gallery in Piermont, New York. 

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And I have another very good dragon bench made by chainsaw artist Paul Sivell on the Isle of Wight.

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Sock monkeys are always excellent value I find.

This is Eli and Sirus at their wedding. Or Civil Partnership as we say in the UK. 

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Eddie, you are sneaking in extra pictures again. And this is TWO sock monkeys, so that counts for two for you. No more sock monkeys!

OK, how about something from the National Portrait Gallery?

No. I'm going to do my dragons now. This is a pretty sea dragon bench from Lost Art, who restore historic garden furniture.

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And this is a photo of a real komodo dragon which my nephew took when he visited Komodo Island.

photo by Toby McAlister

It's a dragon but it's not a bench. You can't sit on this dragon, can you? This blog is called B-e-n-c-h-s-i-t-e.  Do you see the word Bench in there? Does that give you a hint as to what this blog is about? 

I do, but it's my blog and I love the real dragon here. 

I'm sure readers are more interested in primates than dragons. People didn't descend from dragons, did they?

I'm not going to discuss evolution. I'm going to show Dragon Hall, a medieval trading hall in Norfolk. It has a very nice sign and some lovely benches. 

photo by Chris McAlister

photo by Chris McAlister

I've picked up on your tricks: notice how I slipped two dragon pictures in?  

Didn't notice. 

Two can play this game you know.

I'm ignoring you. 

And just to make the point, here's a dragon bench from Poland. 

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And another one from Wales.

If I might get a word in edgewise here? 

This monkey has fallen off his bench. He is Macaco Gordo (Fat Monkey), by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. He was made in a park in Sao Paulo in Brazil in 2010. 

images courtesy of Florentijn Hofman at

Fat Monkey is made from 10,000 flipflops sewn together. No kidding. Here they are up close. 

Gorgeous. I really like the flipflop monkey, Eddie. I do. 

Good. Then here's a monkey ice cream bench for you.

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This isn't really a monkey bench though, is it? It's a monkey on a bench. And don't think I didn't notice how you slipped another one in.

Here's a Victorian dragon bench from Lost Arts. Aren't the blue ends beautiful?

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Yes, but look at this garden monkey bench from the Singapore Japanese Gardens. Look how minimalist and serene it is. 

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Yes, that's true. But this is TWO monkeys again, Eddie. By my reckoning that's thirteen monkeys and only five dragons.

Did you count both blue dragons on the Victorian bench?

Well, maybe not. 

What about this dragonfly bench then? It's a sort of dragon.

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Eddie? Come on, it's a beautiful bench. Why are you covering your eyes?


Oh, don't start that See-No-Evil stuff with me. 

It might be pretty but that dragonfly bench is not a dragon and it's not a primate and it shouldn't be here. End of story. 

Hey, it's St. George's Day! I think we should be open to possibilities here, not just dragons and monkeys. 

This is where we fundamentally disagree. 

Here is a terrific monkey couple on a log bench.

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Eddie, you have stolen this off my own blog. These are on the Japanese post. Regular readers will have already seen them.

You kid yourself that you have regular readers.

Back to dragons now. I insist. 

Do you know the dragon flag benchpress move? It was a trademark move of Bruce Lee in the Kung Fu movies. Remember those?

No. And nothing to do with St. George. 

This Kung-fu Master uses the Dragon-head Bench as a weapon. Let that be a lesson to you, Eddie.

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That sounds like a threat.

I suppose in a way it is. 

In that case I will remind you what happens to people who offend intelligent primates. This fellow fell foul of a gorilla at the Old Gaffers Festival on the Isle of Wight. 

I didn't know they had gorillas on the Isle of Wight.

They do. And I would like my treble fee now, please, as we agreed.

We agreed double, not treble.

In that case I will have to consult my lawyer.

In that case I have just two words for you, Eddie: Circus. And Circus.

That's hitting below the belt.

Yes, sorry about that. You know I would never send you to work in a circus. I'm bananas about you.

You are an annoying but highly skilled editor. 

Happy St. George's Day, Eddie.

Thanks. It's nice to be back. 

Lawrence meets a Welsh dragon. Photo by Mary McAlister


St. George is the patron saint of merrie England, a folk hero, a warrior, a much-loved saint. St. George's Day has been celebrated since the eleventh century and in Henry VIII's time you could be fined for not attending St. George's Day celebrations. Forgotten in some decades, the feast of St. George's Day has been revived and there is much white-and-red-cross flag waving these days.

I'll let you in on a little secret about Eddie:  he hates insect benchesPersonally, I find Eddie rather hard to work with but if you like his style, you can see the posts he has ruined edited for me on Benchsite. In 2013 there were the orange benches. Eddie got stressed out and threw a strop. He interfered with my careful numbering system in 31 Things to Do on a Bench. In 2014 there were the Blue Monday benches in January and then, worst of all, the Red Bench disaster in February. After that, Eddie went to Mexico for a while and I had a bit of peace. I am having to rethink my animal editors. Monkeys are bad enough but cats . . . as for Meredith, don't get me started. Put it this way: if I had to call in Noah to round up animal benches for the ark, monkeys and cats would not be on it. 

If by any chance this is not enough monkeys for you, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey Bench. I thought it only fair that the story about monkey benches should be handed over to Eddie. What could possibly go wrong? 

The Green Dragon is a pub sign at Wymondham in Norfolk. This and the Dragon Hall photos are by Chris McAlister. Oh how I love receiving people's holiday photos! 

Preston Manganaro's cedar dragon is at the Outside In Gallery in Piermont, New York.   The Outside In describes itself as an ARTefact gallery offering a diverse collection of fine art, found objects and hand-selected artisan objects 

Paul Sivell makes intriguing chainsaw sculptures and is inspired by nature, local traditions, and mythology. His distinctive style is well known around the Isle of Wight though he also works throughout the UK and abroad. The dragon bench is one of his many functional sculptures (benches!) which can be seen at

Dragon Hall is a Grade 1 listed medieval merchant's trading hall in Norwich, Norfolk. The Great Hall was built around 1427 but archaeological research on the site has shown evidence of 1,000 years of human habitation.

Thanks to Karen Law at for her image of the Chinatown monkey in San Francisco. Karen has interesting travels and photographs which are well worth a look. 

The beautiful rosewood dragon bench was painstakingly restored by Eric Saperstein, who is one of the Artisans of the Valley. The artisans do hand crafted custom woodworking and period restorations. The Valley is in Pennington, New Jersey but is more easily visited at  The artisans publish a blog and a quarterly review of their projects at  Artisans of the Valley's Artisans Quarterly Review Volume 6 Issue 1 - 2013

The blue sock monkey is by Heather Doon in Canada at

The sock monkey couple are Eli and Sirus. They were married in a same-sex wedding ceremony in Massachusetts. You can see the wedding and other sock monkey activities at

The monkey on a bench was photographed by Erin Eastman at It was created as a tabletop sample for tradeshows. The bench is by DuMor Site Furnishings and the sculpted/molded monkey is by Tivoli Too.

The komodo dragon was photographed on Komodo Island by Toby McAlister in March 2011.

The bench with the bright red dragon feet is at Beddgelert station in Wales. Beddgelert is a town lucky enough to be along the line of the Welsh Highland Railway and Snowdonia National Park. The bench was photographed by nh53 in 2013.  nh53 is very, very well travelled indeed. 

The flipflop Fat Monkey is by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman at   Many thanks for permission to use these images. Here is a brilliant short video about the making of the monkey:

The pretty dragonfly bench is by Cottage and Bungalow and costs $2,260. It's at  

Three Wise Monkey benches are easy to find in bronze, plastic and just about any material you desire but I liked these life-size Three Wise Monkeys On A Bench from   

The two serene minimalist monkeys holding up a bench are in the Singapore Japanese Gardens, photographed by the Everyday Minimalist on her extensive, minimalist travels. This is a girl who knows how to live out of one suitcase. She has a fascinating website with excellent minimalist advice at 

The beautiful blue dragon bench is Victorian cast iron. Along with the sea dragon bench, it comes from where they are dedicated to the careful restoration of historic garden furniture.  Many thanks for permission to use these images.

The lovely carved wood Japanese monkey couple are from

Hasanfu is a Kung Fu style which features The Five Animals. The Dragon is the final form and the most difficult because it combines physical moves with a culture of spirit and a higher state of awareness.The Dragon-head Wooden Bench Weapon move is demonstrated by a Kung-fu Master at the Lam Tang Kung Fu Academy in Lexington, South Carolina. This and other Kung Fu moves can be seen at their interesting website at

Lawrence, age two, was photographed by his proud grandmother, Mary McAlister. 

I photographed the gorilla holding the man in a cage at the Old Gaffers Festival in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight. I know, I know, I wasn't close enough to get a good shot. But there were people in the way!

Circus Circus is a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Eddie has never worked there and never will. I, however, was a cocktail waitress there in . . . no, I'm not going to name the date but if you're thinking evolved from apes you're in the right era.   


  1. Other people's holiday snaps?
    You've been here too long, I believe you're being ironic .
    Disgruntled of Scharpenorde
    Ps love the dragons!

  2. Yes, it's true Sharpenorde. I have been marooned on Paradise Island for far too many years. I have no holiday pictures of my own. I have used up all my old ones. That's why I'm grateful to anyone who sends their pictures to me.

    I am pleased to see you preferred my dragons to Eddie's primates.

  3. I found your article to be very amusing and thank you for the "honorable mention!"

    1. Thanks,Sifu. I'm glad you like the story. You can see the difficulties I had in interesting Eddie in dragons but it's great to see your dragon bench move there.


  4. Dear Seashell
    I had no idea that the world of primate benches existed....I am confident that that aliquot of knowledge has enhanced my being.
    Best wishes
    La Cootard

  5. Yes, indeed, La Cootard. There is a whole world of primate benches just waiting to be discovered. And sheep benches and bus stop benches and who knows what else? I do hope this knowledge will come in handy.

    Best wishes,