Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Laying Down the Law on Legal Benches

Did you know that from 1 April 2014 every bench is a potential crime scene?


Yes, some jolly judge has decided that benches are too dangerous to leave to people's own discretion.


Under the new law, people will no longer be using benches at their own risk.


I won't bore you with the finer points of the law; they are in the small print at the end

My husband, His Excellency: Reading this blog is going to be a trial.


No, it's not. We've got some great benches to look at, plus, April 8th is Be Nice to Lawyers Day, so we've got some hilarious lawyer jokes to cheer ourselves up.

His Excellency: Be nice to lawyers? Good luck with that one.

Oh, come on. There are lots of good lawyers.

Do you know the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? 

His Excellency: Hmmm. I guess a good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge.

AND, to top it all, I have a riddle for you. 

I'm not in court to be judged,
but I am the mark by which others are.
The bottomless find scant use for me.

Do you know what it is?

His Excellency: I'll get back to you on that. So what about this new law then?

From today, bench owners everywhere will be responsible for anything that happens to people on benches. 

If a park bench falls over and someone is hurt, guess who is liable?

The tax payer, of course. Millions are going to be spent on compensation. 

Broken bench? Splinter in your bum?  


Get on the phone to your lawyer. 

Though I suppose if you're stuck in a bench and can't reach your phone, that might not be possible.


There's a new guy in town who knows a lot of lawyers. In fact he used to be one. 

Rawlings Benchleigh-Press was a barrister in London before he gave it all up and came to Paradise Island to be a life coach and personal trainer.  Here he is on a bench at Piccadilly Circus.

Here he is on the Bench at the Inner Temple:


And here he is in Fribble Park with our new training shoe benches.

His Excellency: From Queen's Bench to bench press.

Despite his posh beginnings as a barrister in the Inns of Court, here in Fribble we just call him Rawl.

I like the wig and gown and everything. 

Rawl: It's called a law suit.

You must have been a high-priced lawyer, Rawl. 

Rawl: Yes, they called me The Microwave Lawyer. If you spent eight minutes in my office you'd get billed as if you'd been there eight hours. 

So, if I gave you, say, £500 would you answer two questions for me?

Rawl: Absolutely. Now what's your second question?

You must have seen a lot of fascinating trials, Rawl.

Rawl: Oh yes, there is plenty of drama in a court of law.


Golly, this looks a bit emotional. What's going on?

Rawl: A rather hefty sentence for a parking fine. 

How much? It's about £60 around here.

Rawl: Death sentence. Meant to be a deterrent. 

His Excellency: A death sentence for a parking fine? The judge must have been at the pub all day before he decided that one.


Rawl: No, the car was parked on a double yellow. The defence didn't have a leg to stand on.


Being a barrister sounds rather exciting, Rawl. Don't you miss it? 

Rawl: Yes, there were certain compensations. For example, a shark will never attack a lawyer.

Really? Why not?

Rawl: Professional courtesy. 

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly: I say, what's all this about a new bench law? I've been asleep in the House of Lords lately and must have missed it.

Rawl: To sum up, as we say in court, every user is now a potential claimant victim. And every bench owner is a potential cash cow defendent. 

His Excellency: This is absurd. People do very risky things on benches of their own free will. 


Of course there are signs asking people to be sensible.

my photo, Enkhuizen, Netherlands

But there are people who just can't resist larking about on benches.


Lord Brassica Fifth Earl of Drizzly: Yes, a bit of high jinx is the spice of life.


Won't this new law fan the flames of making easy money out of compensation claims? 


When you think of the crazy stuff people do on benches, the new law seems unbalanced in favour of the risk-taker.


His Excellency: Are you saying this fellow could get a big payout if he falls off his perch?

Rawl: I am. Though he would need a sympathetic judge. 

Hanging Judge Jeffreys wouldn't do. 


Biff, who loves to smash up benches: I'd hate to meet that judge in an alley. 

You won't have to. It's a Queen's Bench now. 

Rawl: The Court of the King's Bench was founded in 1215 to deal with English Common Law. They handled all cases of defamation, bankruptcy and misdemeanor.

Biff:  How about ASBOs? I've had a couple of those.

Rawl:  Anti-social Behaviour Orders are a modern thing. They didn't have them in those days. People like you were more likely to end up in the stocks.

His Excellency: Good grief! What did this poor woman do?

It's my Auntie Ev. She was found guilty of being an American tourist in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Rawl: She looks happy enough with the verdict though.

Yes, but that's before we pelted her with eggs and tomatoes.

Biff: So where is this King's Bench then? Is it the one down by the Dustpan and ipod?

Rawl: The King's Bench prison was in Southwark in London from medieval times right up to 1880. 


Biff:  It looks kind of nice in there. Way better than where my mum lives now.

It was mostly full of debtors, who had to bring their own bedding, food and drink. The ones who could afford it were allowed to go down to the pub or even live outside the prison.

Biff: This new law is ace! I'm going down to the bus shelter and get going on a legal claim.


His Excellency: This is criminal damage. The vandal should get a life term for this.

Rawl: Not anymore. A little shard of glass in the end of your finger and you could sue the pants off your fellow citizens. Even if you did the damage yourself.

So with this new law there are going to be a lot of hazards at the bench. 

And a lot of demand on police time.

my photo, Devizes, Wiltshire

Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly, who enjoys a good picnic: I hope this new law doesn't include picnic benches. I say, the world would be a sorry place without a Harrod's hamper.

I'm afraid it does, Lord B. And it also includes benches on private property. 

His Excellency: We're going to see a lot of signs like this then, aren't we?

And a lot of benches like this:

And this:


And a lot of picnic places like this:


Rawl: You might think this law is wrong-headed but just to play devil's advocate for a moment . . .


Lord Brassica: We don't need a bloody devil from Brussels telling us what to do with our benches.

The devil is from Brussels? Who knew?

Lord Brassica:  We need some ruddy common sense. Every since that debacle about the curved bananas, our British Empire has become a plaything of the suits in Brussels.

Hold onto your wig, Lord B. There hasn't been a British Empire for quite a while now.  

Lord Brassica: Really? In my day the British Empire was pink and jolly places like Ceylon and Malaya and Siam and Rhodesia were all pink on the map.


That's not the case now.

Lord Brassica: All part of Brussels now I suppose? That wretched European thing.

Errrr . . . none of the places you named are in Europe.

Lord Brassica: Is that so? I guess this new bench law doesn't apply to them?

Root, son of Lord Brassica, who frequently gets drunk and falls asleep on benches: Where am I going to drink if there are no benches? And where am I going to sleep? 


Rawl: Under the new law you'd technically be consuming alcohol where there is no bench. You could find yourself looking at ten to twenty years for an offence like this.

Root: Yeah, but I can't read the sign. It's in Russian or something. I don't even know what it means.

Rawl: Ignorance is no defence. You'd soon find yourself behind bars. 

Lord Brassica: My pater's pater was called to the bar. 


Really, Lord B? Your granddad was a lawyer?

Lord Brassica: Queens Council, then Master of the Bench. 

Golly. That's impressive.

Lord Brassica: Kept his good looks to the end. Lived to a hundred and six.

His Excellency: Old lawyers never die; they just lose their appeal.

Root: That's him on the far end, sleeping on the bench. 


Rawl: This is a Lawyer's Sleep: he lies first on one side, then lies on the other.

Root: I take after him. I can't help it. I have to get drunk and sleep on benches. It's genetic. 

Rawl: That could be a defence in law but I'd have to brush up on that. 


Another one who will have to brush up on the new law is Willie Wyme the Crime, our police constable. 

He's on the beat 24/7 and knows all about the uses and abuse of benches in Fribble and Drizzly. 

Here he is with the Fribble Agro gang; Biff is the purple snarling one, though it's not him who is attacking Willie. 

Wyme the Crime: I'm a tolerant sort of bloke, me. Found meself on the wrong side of the law once or twice. 

Really? Did you have a jury trial?

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan 1678

Wyme: Naw. A jury never works when it's fixed.

I did jury service once but I didn't know how I got chosen. 

Rawl: A jury consists of twelve people chosen to decide who has the best lawyer. 

His Excellency: Apparently it's not uncommon for lawyers to go bad. What do you call a lawyer who goes bad?

Rawl: Your Honour.

Willie Wyme: But we can't have people sleeping all over the King's Benches now, can we, Guv? 

We don't have a king, Willie. 

Lord Brassica: Haven't had a king since that bloke who was related to my mater.

George the Sixth.

Lord Brassica:  That's the one.

It has to be said that Fribble-under-Par is not exactly a hotbed of crime. In fact, the only person ever jailed here was Willie himself. 

But right now there's a bit of a problem in town because of our new neighbours, Drida and Friego.

Ever since they arrived from Mexico City there have been non-stop fiestas at the Casa Amarilla. They started celebrating Cinco de Mayo in early March and and it looks like it's not going to stop. 

His Excellency: Not that I mind. Good luck to them, in my view. 

Fribble residents are down at La Casa every night getting tanked up on Tequila and dancing the salsa til the wee hours. I've even seen old Noah down there singing Hola! Ole! Ahola! and waving his Mexican flag.

As a concerned citizen and role model for the towns of Fribble and Drizzly, Lord Brassica is particularly worried about the effects on his own family.

Lord Brassica: My son Root has become an alcoholic since this fiasco began. He's been getting drunk and sleeping on benches down by the river.

His Excellency: You could argue that Root has Previous on this though.

Exhibit A: Castle Brassica

Exhibit B: Fribble Esplanade 

Exhibit C: Dublin

Yes, this getting drunk on benches isn't a new thing with him. He was even drunk on his honeymoon.

Lord Brassica: And my innocent young daughter-in-law, Innocent, is becoming corrupted by the influence of these foreign people, even though she is entirely innocent. 

Rawl: Everyone is innocent until proven broke. That's the lawyer's creed.

Yes, I have always wondered why bankruptcy lawyers expect to get paid.

Lord Brassica: On several occasions I have reported noise nuisance and I have paid Willie to arrest Drida and Friego for breaches of the peace. I shall be glad when these people are found guilty, deported, and the matter is laid to rest. 

However, once in court, Drida and Friego seemed to know everybody. 

Drida called the Prosecutor Old Darling and high-fived the judge.


On the Defence bench, Friego downed a bottle of Tequila and winked at the female jurors. Several of them winked back. 


Drida and Friego's barrister laughed heartily at all the judge's jokes.


Then, just minutes into the trial Drida was giving evidence when there was a flash of lightening and some of the jurors fell off their benches.


Under the new Bench Law, the judge worried that the court would have to pay compensations for injuries so she adjourned the proceedings and dismissed the case. 


What else could she do? Since benches are the basis of our civilisation, the new law would mean that law and order would immediately break down everywhere. 

Isn't it just as well then that no new bench law came into effect on 1 April, 2014? 

See, I told you it was important to read the small print. 

Now please spare a thought for lawyers and find a way to be nice to them this week. Maybe cheer them up by sharing one of the jokes from this blog?


April Fool's Day is also known as prima aprilis in Poland, sizdah bedar in Iran, and poisson d'avril in Italy, France, Belgium and French-speaking parts of Switzerland and Canada. 

Mike Coghlan in Adelaide is one of my most reliable bench providers - what an eye he has!  His bench collection is the most extensive I have found and it is truly inspirational. On dreary days I flick through to see what's new and it cheers me up enormously. For the first photo in this post I have used his bench wrapped in tape, which is reminiscent of a crime scene or perhaps even IS a crime scene..  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/

MC Morgan is a professor of English from Bemidki, Minnesota. He teaches writing and digital rhetoric and other stuff. His love of text is apparent in his photostream, which includes lots of quirky handwritten signs, and printed signs like the one at the Risky Benches one at the start of this post.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcmorgan/

Cali.org stands for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, a not-for-profit organisation based in Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis. They improve legal education with innovative tools , including lessons, awards, e-casebooks, class blogging, podcasting and more. It's a far cry from the days of Judge Jeffreys. https://www.flickr.com/photos/caliorg/

There are three photos by Ron Clark at Flickr and I have been waiting a long time to use them. Ron has an eye for All Things English and he has an amazing collection of pub signs in his photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ronclark5329  The three I have used here are: The Jolly Judge, the Devil's Advocate, and Called to the Bar

The riddle is by Jenny Lewis from The New Exeter Book of Riddles, edited by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Lawrence Sail (Enitharmon Press, 1999). Do you know what it is yet?  A bench, of course.

There are quite a few different uses of the word 'bench' in this post. In English and some other courts, 'the bench' refers to both judges and where the judge sits. 'The bar' in the UK refers to attorneys and barristers or what in the US would be called 'lawyers'. A bench trial is a trial by judge and in the UK, only a Crown Court (criminal cases) has a jury: other trials are decided by a judge. In the US most criminal cases are also decided by jury. A bench warrant is issued for the immediate arrest of a person, usually for someone who is in contempt of court, like Root or Biff.  In the UK and Canada, a bencher is a senior barrister (usually a Queen's Council), who is elected as a Master of the Bench or appointed as a High Court judge. A bencher holds office for life, which is just as well because I couldn't possibly explain more about UK courts.

To make matters worse, in the UK members of Parliament (MPs) also sit on a bench in the House of Commons and Lords like Lord Brassica sit on benches in the House of Lords. MPs are elected by the British public while Lords are appointed by governments, giving rise to the accusation that British government is not truly democratic. (Lord Brassica is a Life Peer; would you vote for him?) The benches are organised so that people representing the different political parties sit on opposite sides of the House so that they can argue with each other and shout a lot and yell Hear, hear!  A backbencher is an MP who does not hold government office and is not a frontbencher; he/she quite literally sits on the back benches of the House of Commons and does not reliably support his/her party's goals and policies. A crossdresser bencher is someone who is independent of the main political parties and votes according to his or her own conscious, without loyalty to a party. That's Lord Brassica, who generally sleeps through proceedings and doesn't know what he's voting for anyway.

The tipped over bench was in Karl Marx Allee in Berlin in 2007, photographed by Matti Blume and found at Wikicommons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bench_karl-marx-allee.JPG?uselang=en-gb

The broken bench was photographed by Tomwsulcer in Briant Pond Park, Summit, New Jersey in 2009. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Broken_bench_Briant_Pond_Park_Summit_NJ_2009.jpg

The man stuck in a concrete bench is an image I keep seeing but I have been unable to trace its source. I first saw it on Sarah Salway's lovely bench blog A Quiet Sit Down on 5 May 2012. http://aquietsitdown.blogspot.co.uk/  Sarah is an author, blogger, and journalist in the UK. She has several novels including a bench-centred one called Tell Me Everything  http://www.sarahsalway.net/

Rawlings Benchleigh-Press is new to Fribble-under-Par but he's already making a big impact. His aim is to get the good people of Fribble up and running, and to coach them towards a better way of life. So far he has become a personal trainer for Lady Jessica Brassica, who put on rather a lot of weight over the winter. He also funded the witty Trainers benches in Fribble park, which appeared only last week and will take some time to break in. Meanwhile, on the proceeds from three legal questions, Rawl spent a week-end in Toronto.

The questions were: 1) Planning anything nice this week-end?  2) Where to?  3) Have a great time, won't you?

You may have realised that all on Benchsite is not what it seems. The judge pictured is not Rawlings Benchleigh-Press. It's Justice Lewis Cave (1832-1897), appointed as a Justice of the Queen's Bench in 1881. He was photographed sometime between 1881 and 1891 by the London Stereoscopic Company.http://www.flickr.com/photos/lsuc_archives/4428009720/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Since changes to the system in 2008, wigs and gowns are no longer worn in English civil and family courts; criminal barristers and judges in Crown Courts still wear them. Wigs are no longer worn in most Commonwealth countries though they are worn for special occasions, such as the start of the legal year, in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong.

I have used two lithographs of the Salem Witch Trials from US artist Joseph E. Baker (1837-1914). The first is "Witch 3" {{LOC-image}} dated 1929.  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TheWitch-no3.jpg?uselang=en-gb   The final courtroom picture is "The Witch no. 1", an 1892 lithograph by the same author. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salem_witch.jpg?uselang=en-gb The source of both lithographs is the US Library of Congress {{LOC-image}} where the works are in the public domain because they were published or registered with the US Copyright office before January 1, 1923.    

Martin Deutsch is an engineery type from Glasgow, now living in London. He apparently has a keen eye for the mundane, and likes infrastructure. He took the picture of the lost leg on the bench.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/teflon/

The Judge's Bench is a pub and restaurant in Ellicott City, Maryland. In the 1880s the building which is now the Judge’s Bench, was a small “Mom and Pop” grocery store. Since there was no air conditioning in those days, the hot and exhausted judges would come across the street and enjoy cold beverages on benches in the shade outside the grocery store.  http://judgesbenchpub.com/

The upside down piano player is Jon Schmidt from The Piano Guys. He played at a concert in Alabama in December 2012 and was blogged by author Jennifer Youngblood, who was mightily impressed by his ability to play Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer whilst upside down. http://jenniferyoungblood.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/

Simon James likes a bit of high jinx on Flickr Bench Mondays. He's the guy attempting a trackstand on a park bench (August 2010) and then feeling light as air after losing a pound on a diet in September.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/bearpark/4940880381/ and 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bearpark/5007667579/ Simon lives in Gateshead UK with his lovely wife Claire and his dog Alfie. He mostly works from home (research and consultancy) which means he can listen to  music all day long and also make forays out to photograph benches. 

Roger Hiorns is a British artist, born in 1975 in Birmingham. He creates fictional scenarios which are made real through his use of ordinary objects and materials, such as benches. In his 2010 Youth series, which is untitled, a scene is activated at intervals, involving a bench, a small fire and a naked young man who contemplates the fire. This fire was just in time to provide warmth for the woolly autumn benches. The photograph shown here is by Gert Jan van Rooij and is shown courtesy of the artist and his representatives, Corvi-Mora, London. It comes from the Hiorns exhibition at the De Hallen Gallery in the Netherlands; thanks also to Annelieke van Halen at www.dehallen.nl  

The man balancing on a bench shows one of the 31 things you can do on a bench. It is one of those pictures that's all over the internet but very hard to find when you want it. I saw it at www.pichippo.com   I don't know if pichippo is Japanese but on reaching their Japanese language website I asked for a translation and stumbled on a very large ad for Viagra. It's one of those photos in which a lot of people have a pinterest. All I can say is, don't try this at home.

George Jeffreys (1645-1689) was known as The Hanging Judge during the reign of King James II. Loyal to the king and fiercely anti Catholic, Jeffreys was sent to the West Country in 1685 to conduct the trials of captured rebels. Known for harsh sentencing and vindictiveness, 1381 defendants were found guilty of treason and at least 160 were executed; a figure of up to 700 has also been given. Of these, only one was considered improper, which was the case of Alice Lisle, who was accused of sheltering some members of the defeated rebel army, though she took no part in the rebellion. When the jury asked whether her actions could in law be considered treasonable, Jeffreys replied affirmatively and the jury then returned a guilty verdict. The king had the option of granting the Prerogative of Mercy for Alice, but he chose not to do this.

The Court of the King's Bench in England ended in 1875 when all parts of law became the High Court of Justice. However, there are still Kings Bench Alleys in London and wherever there are courts. This one I photographed in Portsmouth on my way to work. I have gone past it for years and with this blog about legal benches, it suddenly had meaning. There is no apostrophe, which suggests that rather than being the alley belonging to just the one king, this bench alley belongs to kings in general. On the other hand, the sign is in various states of disrepair so the apostrophe could have gone missing; for a grammar geek like me, a missing apostrophe is a crime in itself. 

What is it about getting into stocks that people can't resist? Dungeons, prisons, stocks: they used to be punishment, now they're tourist attractions. This is my dear Aunt Ev on a visit to the Cotswolds in 1981. She loved to travel and Britian was one of her favourites places to visit. 

The King's Bench Prison 1809 was published as an engraving,  Plate 9 Microcosm of London. Founded in 1215, it was a debtor's prison until 1860, home to Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit and in 1821, to Marc Isambard Brunel, father of our very own Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who features in the Bridge Bench story here on Benchsite. The King's Bench engraving is  by Thomas Rowlandson (1756–1827) and Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) (after) John Bluck (fl. 1791–1819), Joseph Constantine Stadler (fl. 1780–1812), Thomas Sutherland (1785–1838), J. Hill, and Harraden (aquatint engravers). It is in the public domain due to the age of its authors. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kings_Bench_Prison_Microcosm_edited.jpg?uselang=en-gb

In 19th century Britain prisoners could be let out of gaol for the day if they paid £5 – the equivalent of £300 in today's money (roundabout US$450). Source: 1,411 QI Facts at www.qi.com/1411  page 323.

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. But in the meantime, 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/

Judging from his photostream, Leo Reynolds from Norwich in England is a very Bench person. And best of all, he is keen to share his huge number of photos through Creative Commons. His Hazards at the Bench photo is from an audio/slide presentation he produced in 1980 for a City and Guilds Laboratory Technicians Exam.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/2930447001/in/photostream/   If my husband, His Excellency, had done this exam it could maybe have saved the mishap in his school chemistry lab.  Sadly, his education in some areas was lacking

If you're a Doctor Who fan you may recognise the police call box, which is not all it seems. I saw this one being used as a garden shed on the allotments in Devizes in Wiltshire in September 2019.

The park full of missing benches is Triangle Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. Following a murder in the park in April 2009, all the benches were taken away in a bid to cut crime. This is a move which many cities have adopted. http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2009/05/accused_drug_dealer_benches_go.html

The concrete posts with missing bench was in Přistoupimská Street in Prague. It was photographed by 
cs:ŠJů  in 2007

The photo of the missing picnic tables I have had for a long time. The 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. 

Oh yes, Britannia once ruled the waves, which is why there are plenty of sea benches around. The British Empire once stretched across the globe and included countries like India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Hong Kong, South Africa, and many islands of the Caribbean and countries of Africa and Asia. On old maps the British Empire tended to be pink, as in this map from 1897: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/28/British_Empire_1897.jpgHowever, Lord Brassica is rather geographically challenged.From his out-of-date list, you may know that Ceylon is now Sri Lanka, Malaya is now Malaysia, Siam is Thailand, and Rhodesia is Zimbabwe. None of them are in Europe and Thailand is not part of the Commonwealth. Mexico was never part of the British Empire either, nor was Holland but both of them have brilliant benches here on Benchsite.

Lukas Blakk from Ottawa is a Canadian traitor who moved to California. She describes herself as a film nerd and computer geek, charming, busy, worker bee, and all around adventure-phile. She took the picture of the French language sign in Montmartre cemetery in Paris in 2011. To paraphrase what the sign says, according to Lukas, Do not sit on invisible benches drinking a bottle of wine and not sharing it with the lady next to youhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/lukasblakk/

William Hogarth first painted his famous work The Bench in 1758. There were two versions, the latter one in 1764, still in progress at the time of Hogarth’s death. The original (first state) print shows four elegantly gowned judges sitting below the King's Arms, in session in the Court of Common Pleas. Hogarth ridicules the lack of ability or interest among the judiciary; none of the four judges is concerned with the case before them and two are asleep. These are character portraits of four real judges of the time. The Bench is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bench_    

One of the Maxims for the Bar is "Always laugh at the Judge's jokes. It is not upon such an occasion that his Lordship observes that he will NOT have the Court turned into a theatre." The cartoon is from Punch, volume 98, March 22, 1890, presented by Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30414/30414-h/30414-h.htm The Gutenberg license states: 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 www.gutenberg.org

The amazing Scrub Together bench is made from an industrial brush and birch plywood by Jason Taylor, who made a limited edition run of these for clients in America, Greece and the UK. He also made some Lazy Cleaner stools which are also brushes. Scrub Together is now part of the collection at Manchester Art Gallery. http://www.jasontaylor.me/filter/Furniture/Scrub-Together

The Jury is from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1678. It is an illustration of the trial of Christian and Faithful, who were tried before a judge named Lord Hate-good. The three witnesses were Envy, Superstition and Pickthank: what chance did they stand in a trial like this? The jury itself (all male of course) consisted of a gallery of rogues with the following names: Mr. Blind-man, Mr No-good, Mr Love-lust, Mr Live-loose, Mr Heady, Mr High-mind, Mr Enmity, Mr Liar, Mr Cruelty, Mr Hate-light and Mr Implacable. They were found guilty and, after a great deal of gruesome torture, poor Faithful met his end and Christian was remanded in custody. The author himself spent twelve years in prison and it was during this time that he conceived and wrote The Pilgrim's Progress

Willie Wyme, aka Wyme the Crime, is our police constable, serving the towns of Fribble and Drizzly. He does an adequate job, bearing in mind there isn't much to do. He got in a spot of bother last year over an illegal smile bench. And then there was the unpleasant business where he arrested Hello Kitty for littering but then Willie was found guilty of trying to bury the evidence. The less said about that the better I think.

Here is Willie and the Fribble Agro gang hanging out at the clock tower bench. That's Biff on the left (the snarling purple one). 

Friego Rahlo and Drida Kiviera are artists who introduced me to some amazing Mexican benches. They were fairly forthcoming about their complicated personal lives and we bonded to the extent that they followed me home to Paradise Island, where they have been renting La Casa Amarilla. 

Old Noah is very old indeed. Think animals. Think ark. See which animal benches he chose for the ark for World Animals Day back in October. 

OnceandFuture Laura is from Tacoma, Washington. She has taken a lot of pictures of courtrooms and the Oath on the Bench was taken in 2010. It's not actually a high-five, as you might have guessed, but an oath caught in mid-air on camera has interesting interpretations.  https://www.flickr.com/photos/laura-kali/  

The brilliant group of women are from the London School of Economics archive. They were photographed in The Typing Room in 1956. The photograph is from Flickr's marvelous Commons at http://www.flickr.com/photos/35128489@N07/3926526080/  The persistent URL is archives.lse.ac.uk/dserve.exe?dsqServer=lib-4.lse.ac.uk

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