Friday, 25 November 2016

Black benches for Black Friday

It's Black Bench Friday and the sharks are out.

I ring Eddie, my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate.

It's Black Friday, Eddie! I'm up bright and early to get down to Da Shop.

Eddie: More fool you. I'm at home writing my Christmas cards.

Are you coming shopping with me? I'm going down to the mall to bag a bargain on a black bench.

Last year I left just 19 shopping benches before Christmas. This year I want everything wrapped up in plenty of time.

I hate shopping. What a waste of time.

Just come with me and I'll park you on a husband bench.  

I'm not your husband. 

OK then. A guy's bench.  

There's a problem with this bench.

Yes, I know. The apostrophe.

This is Guy's Bench. It's not mine. It's no one else's. It's Guy's.

That's true, Eddie. The placement of the apostrophe suggests the bench belongs to one person named Guy.

If it's a bench belonging to all men then it should be Guys' Bench. Or even Guys Bench, with no punctuation.

The thing is Eddie, I can't argue about punctuation; I'm bench-pressed for time.  

I need to find a black bench really quickly or they're going to sell out. A lot of benches are half price right now. 

Dora and Cora have already been down to the Bench shop buying everything they can carry. 

Lady Brassica has already worn herself out in the basement of her replica mall.

And Innocent has sunk into her purchases with a sense of satisfaction that borders on smugness.

Better make a beeline for the mall then.  

You need to promise me one thing though. 

Of course, Eddie. What's that?

No trying on shoes.

Or knickers.

Or spectacles.

About the shoes . . . Maybe you could just sit on a bench for a couple of minutes while I try on a couple of pairs of Jimmy Choos?

Can't do that. I'm not a partner and I'm not a man. I'm a primate, remember?

You're right, Eddie. I mustn't get distracted. We're on a mission for a black bench.

You don't even need a close-up view of a black bench.

And you don't want to get tangled up in a lot of choices.

Yes, we just want to grab a brilliant black bench, pay, and get out of there in one piece.

I suppose you're prepared to queue for ages to get a knock-down price?   

I am, but I like an orderly queue. I don't like a lot of pushing and shoving.

I hate it when someone gets elbowed and the police have to be called.

It's best to get down there early when the benches at the mall are empty. 

Canny shoppers grab a nice warm trolley and get on with the job.

Of course a comfortable shoe bench is needed for a long day of shopping.

And a good handbag bench too.  

You need a quiet place to sit when your feet start hurting. 

There's no denying it - Black Friday is hard work.

It can take ages just to find a trolley.    

The car park is full.

There's nowhere to park your car bonnet bench.

Also there are no general bench stores any more.  

The shops are very specialised and it's hard to find what you want.

I doubt if you'd find a black bench in this shop.  

Or this one.  

I couldn't even find one in this shop. 

Strange. I thought they'd have plenty.

Maybe black benches are sold out though. They say black is the new black. 

I'm feeling really weary. 

I need to stop for coffee.   

We haven't even got to the mall yet, Eddie.

I know, but I need to find somewhere to sit down on with a cup of coffee.

Plus I'm hungry. Maybe we can find that Apostrophe cafe we saw earlier.

Well, I know where there's a No Food For Lazy Man shop.  

It's not one of those chain store benches is it?

Definitely not. It's a peace and love bongo base.

Good. I fancy some soba noodles. Is there a chopstick bench around here?

Or even a cup of tea?

You're showing off your Eddie The Editor mugs aren't you?


Look, Eddie, we haven't got to the mall yet and it's already dark.  

How am I going to find my black bench in the dark? If I can't find one it's going to be the same old Christmas bench story.

What, everyone you know gets a bench for Christmas?

Yes. Or pants.

What choice will I have? The mall is closing in five minutes!

I need to sit down. This black bench shopping will be the death of me.

I'll see if I can find you a quiet space. How about this?   

No.I like the trees but it's too minimalist for me. I need greenery.

How about this then - an oasis of calm in the midst of the mall.

The mall is closing. They're going to throw us out.

Oh look Eddie! it's the perfect black bench - just what I wanted!  

We've got to get those people off though.

Well, it's Black Friday. They've been pushed around all day. Just get them a shove, they're used to it. 

Later on Black Friday . . .

I told you it was a bad idea to shop for benches on Black Friday. You should have just stayed home and curled up on the couch.

Sorry, Eddie. 

But at least there's a bench in our cell.

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan 1683

And a mug of tea. 


Black Friday and/or shopping are not my favourite subjects. You can see the mess I got into  by leaving just 19 shopping benches before Christmas.  

The shark-like bench is by the well-known Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. In June 2011 it was exhibited at the Mobile Art Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. There it was photographed by Jacqueline Poggi from Marseilles. Jacqueline gets around the world and takes fabulous photographs of art and architecture. She knows how to capture a beautiful bench when she sees one.

Eddie is my Inner Editor, who just happens to be a primate. If you've seen much of Benchsite you will know what a problem Eddie is for me. He has a habit of setting his own agenda with the benches. Look what a mess he made great job he did on St. George's Day . And as for my Red benches in February? No wonder I was very grateful seeing red. 

DA Shop is a shop in Oakland, California, photographed in November 2011 by torbakhopper HE DEAD.  torbakhopper HE DEAD is an imaginary character loosely based on a real person who is not torbakhopper. He shoots (or shot) windows and he thinks you should too. The torbakhopper HE DEAD trust commission wishes you well and knows that if torbakhopper had ever been real, he'd wish you well, too.

The black leather circular sofa was photographed by Theen Moy at the Art Gallery of Adelaide, South Australia in 2014. Theen is from Malaysia but now lives in Adelaide, where she works and enjoys taking pictures of the city during her lunch breaks. She delights in colour, texture, shadows, lines, repetitions, patterns, reflections, rust, and her two Siberian Forest cats Mittens and Jester.  

Remember the thing for adult colouring a few years ago? The car park is from the brilliant Fantastic Cities book by Steve McDonald. It's the best book ever. The knickers, shoes and specs are from Paris Secret by Zoe de Las Cases. 

The husband parking bench was photographed in Victoria, Australia in 2008. The photograph is by Nick Katin from Perth.  And speaking of husbands, I have two. You know a lot about a man from his workbench, so here you go if you dare. 

What a fuss about punctuation! Well, I guess that's what an editor is for. The Guy's Bench was photographed in Kauai Hawaii in 2009 by Sarah Browning from Lancaster, California   Among the albums in Sarah's photostream there is one of her wedding and another one of Kauai.

This Apostrophe cafe (no apostrophe) is in London. For lots of properly punctuated benches see   You'll be amazed what you can learn from a bench. 

The man benchpressing is Simon James from Darlington, UK, aka menage a trois. His photograph is called Got.To.Get.Myself.Fit.For.My.Holiday.That was back in August 2010. He lives alone with his dog Alfie and spent four years doing self portraits. Inevitably, there are quite a few on benches. 

Cora and Dora are twins and they live here in Fribble-under-Par on Paradise Island. One of them is the Evil Twin. I'm not saying which. Decide for yourself when you read their story at

Lady Jessica Brassica is the wife of Lord Brassica, Fifth Earl of Drizzly. She does indeed have her very own shopping mall in the basement of Drizzly Manor, from which she has unlimited credit and access to all manner of shoes, dresses, handbags, and Young Male Readers of various kinds. On more than one occasion she has been so exhausted by her shopping experiences that a doctor has had to revive her from her condition of Shopilius Extremis

Innocent is Lord and Lady Brassica's daughter-in-law. Innocent has emerged from her convent nursing dress into something of a fashion icon. She has become a world class fashion model for Studio Joop, from Overbearing in Holland. But just how innocent is Innocent?  

Beeline is the local phone service provider in Vientaine, Laos. In April 2014 Shankar, the photographer, found their signs everywhere - on lamp posts, on tuktuks, on shop billboards - everywhere. Just as well he made a beeline for his camera then.

For the Flickr 2012 Color Challenge in September Jeremy Brooks chose black. Wise choice. His beautiful photo is the closeup of a black bench in San Francisco Jeremy likes to photograph urban scenes and he has a soft spot for neon signs, especially vintage neon.

The Black Spaghetti Bench is at Sudeley in England and dates from 2010. It's one of a series by Pablo Reinoso, a French-Argentine artist and designer.Starting in 2006, Reinoso used public benches, which are anonymously designed and travel across cultures with an out-of-time, old-fashioned quality, as a starting point for his reflections . . . These new creations have multiplied and found homes in very diverse places.The fabulous benches can be seen on his website at This photo comes from Wikimedia.  If you're in the mood for pasta, have a look at my Tasty Italian benches.

Peter Donders (b 1965) is a Belgian furniture designer and craftsman who creates 3D design, modelling, prototyping, manufacturing and visualisation. He also does jewelry, ceramics, shelves, and lighting. His works in carbon fiber and aluminium include the black carbon fiber Stone bench, made of 462 meters of fiber. Peter explains that what started out as an experiment, playing around with the limits of technology, manufacturing and materials and bouncing up against what might still just be possible, or not, turned into a whole new art form. Fiberture?  For more European bench designs, some good, some bad, some downright ugly - see

Eric Torner was travelling in Nepal in 2007, where he photographed a group of Nepali men with their Dhaka Topi hats on their favorite bench at the Durbar Square of Patan in the Kathmandu valley. 

My Polish isn't brilliant but here's what I think: Arek Olek photographed the two policeman on a bench in Kamienica in 2007. He was walking through the park when the two policemen pulled notebooks out and began to write. What were they writing and why? That we'll never know.  Here on Paradise Island we have our own police constable, PC Willie Wyme. He's also known as Wyme the Crime, for reasons that will become obvious in his weird story about smiling benches.

Place to sit - another angle is a photograph of four colourful and stylish shopping benches in the Itis mall in Itäkeskus, Helsinki. They were photographed by Rowanhill in January 2014. Rowanhill lives in Helsinki and is new to photography - what a great start! 

Mike Cogh from Adelaide is one of the most prolific bench photographers I have come across. I keep checking his photostream to see what's new and I'm never disappointed. In 2012 he photographed the trolley and bench, which are snuggly wrapped in crochet.  As it happens, one of Benchsite's autumn stories is all about woolly warm benches. It's a heart-warming story - you'll fall for the Fall benches

Choo Yut Shing's photographs have appeared on Benchsite in several different stories, especially shopping ones. Choo has a whole set of photos at the Orchard Gateway shopping mall in Singapore. This time it's the popart shoe bench and handbag bench, both seen at the  Orchard Gateway shopping mall in May 2014.

The Peruvian woman on a bench bench with her shopping basket was photographed in Cusco in 2005 by Nathan Nelson who is the bastard son of a Russian baker and a sailor's daughter. He invented the cat and is fluent in over six million forms of burp. In addition to all this, Nathan takes Big Trips. Peru, Borneo, Cambodia, Italy, Vietnam, New Zealand, Oz, India, - there's nowhere the guy hasn't been. There are fabulous photos in albums from all these places 

One of the first poems I ever wrote was about an abandoned shopping cart.   Chris Orbz has a whole website about shopping carts in ravines, which I love  He photographed the pink bench with the shopping cart in the background in 2007 at Liberty Village which, I think, is in Toronto.

Dutch designer Nic Roex is in my alphabet of Dutch benches. He has transformed spades and car bonnets into benches, like the black one shown in this story, though technically he says it's a Car Bonnet Couch. (That's a car hood, for those of you on some continents). Nic (born 1981) graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2009 and opened Studio Nic Roex in 2010 in Amsterdam. His website is at and his page is    

It's true, there are very few general stores these days, and certainly few general stores selling black benches. But then I found SG Bench, who was a storekeeper in Saratoga in the 1940s. That's not Saratoga in New York, by the way; it's Saratoga in New South Wales. The photographer is Gostalgia at  

The pretty blue brocante bench was outside a shop in Goedereede, Netherlands in 2006. Guess what kind of shop? Yes, brocante. The photographer is Rita, who passed away in 2012. Her photostream is still there, full of beautiful photographs of the Netherlands  And should you be curious about Goedereede, here's the link

 Desmond Kavanagh is an Irish designer working in Germany. He's interested in documentary and travel photos, including the bright yellow Choc Ice house (or shop?) in Sneem, County Kerry in 2009.   This is the kind of site which makes visitors love Ireland. The cat is a nice touch too, though Desmond describes it as a flea-ridden feline. Oh dear, Meredith my feline editor would not like this.

bargainmoose takes pictures of shops in Canada. This one is from Quebec, where she photographed the Montreal Bench dot store at night in March 2014. bargainmoose's photostream is at  and her website is at 

Just Ard is a street photographer with lots of beautiful black and white photographs of unsuspecting subjects. He photographed the No more shopping please bench in Cardiff in May 2014. It's part of a Yesterday in Cardiff series at  Justard's blog is at - well worth a look!

Mikey G Ottawa from, uh, Ottawa, does street photography, including the coffee cups bench from Second Cup coffee shop, photographed in 2008 in Ontario. He makes his apologies to Michaelangelo; perhaps any similarities to Michaelangel's Creation of Adam are purely intentional coincidental.  ttps://

The lovely grey coffee stools are in front of a new cafe in Freshwater, Isle of Wight. I think they're perfect if you want to sit down on with a cup of coffee and you can't find a bench. And if you're feeling hungry, I can rustle you up some Edible Benches. 

Greg Neate photographed Another busy day at Techiman's favourite roadside convenience store in Techiman, Ghana. It was July 2010 when Greg popped into the No Food for Lazy Man Peace and Love Bongo Base Spot. He has a story to tell about it at

Chester is a very posh town in the north of England, the sort of place with great shoe shops.  In October 2015 two street artists placed some plaques on benches across the city to raise awareness of the plight of homelessness in their city and also, in the case of shoes, to add some humour to shopping. As reported in The Chester Chronicle, it wasn't long before the plaques were removed because, according to an official spokesperson, ". . . although they may appear humourous, some people may find them offensive". Shoe shopping? Offensive? I saw this story on Jamie Zawinski's blog at

The close up of the chain bench is called Distorsion #2. It was photographed in   Marseilles by Alexandre Roschewitz in 2007. He lives in Bordeaux and likes doing black and white photos, macro and portraits

The black chopstick bench is called SOFA-XXXX, by Japanese designer Yuya Ushida. If you've seen my Japanese benches blog, you've seen it before. Yuya was born in 1975 in Nagoya Japan and studied mechanical engineering. Before graduating realized that he was more interested in making practical things that would contribute to people’s daily lives, rather than just machine parts, and therefore he decided to turn to the world of industrial design. Yuya says, Becoming a designer does not only require the attention to aesthetics, but also an understanding of materials, techniques and usability aspects of the product. The goal is to create products that make people happy.  His chopstick SOFA-XXXX and other designs can be seen at  You can even watch the painstaking work involved in making these designs.

Jrm Llvr is an architect in Huy, Belgium. He photographed Le lecteur de journal, which is the light sculpture person sitting on a bench in the dark. The designer of the sculpture is Sylvana Belletti and it was in Huy in 2013.   

The Bench was a play performed at the Delta Stage Theatre in Greenville, North Carolina in December 2010. Written by Larry Larson and Eddie Lee, it's a true modern tale of Christmas featuring the story of two men who meet on a bench at the mall while waiting for their wives to finish Christmas shopping. As the weeks progress, they get to know each other, along with all the other wacky characters who inhabit the mall. They enjoy mall-style entertainment on the nearby stage, including a version of A Christmas Carol performed in under 5 minutes. The Bench is apparently full of singing and dancing and is hilariously funny. It sounds like just the thing for getting into the Christmas spirit; I'm sorry I missed it.

I wouldn't want you to get the idea that I am in any way sponsored by Bench dot or any other company. Far from it. The stuff in the bags are my very own purchases from the Bench dot outlet store. None of them fit me and they are all the wrong colours but never mind, they bear the Bench message and that's what's important. 

allfr3d lives in Belgium and takes photos of weird and amazing things. The pants models, seen in Side, Turkey in 2008, are in his wonderful Structures and Patterns album   For a few benches from Turkey and a few benches of turkey, see Troy's Thanksgiving blog

I found a whole fiesta of Mexican benches earlier this year.The black cross bench is called Banca Fúnebre and it's in the Diálogo de Bancas (Dialogue of Benches) in Mexico City. It's an exposition of 71 benches made by visual artists, architects and industrial designers from seven countries. The benches stretch for four miles along the Paseo de la Reforma, a wide tree-lined avenue which is closed to traffic on Sundays. banca fúnebre was photographed by ro_chi at  ro_chi has no profile so there is very little I can say about him or her except that the photostream is brilliant and all photographs are available on Creative Commons. 

The old man on a bench with pink trees is called Sad jewels. It's from DD Ra's Second Life in Terra Toulouse in 2012. There he's a park custodian and explorator numericus metaversis. Or so he says. 

Ian T. McFarland loves taking geometric shots and his favourite things to photograph are architecture and concerts. He's from Kansas City but currently lives in LA, where he took a great aerial photograph of a bench in South Coast Plaza in 2014. It's the one with the greenery and the bench around it. South Coast Plaza in Orange County California is a place I knew well in the 70s and this photo made me homesick for the mall.

Kat N.L.M. is an Anishinaabe artist and a Northern lights man living in Toronto. His pictures have a strong story-telling focus and are almost always candid, like the aerial photo of a mall bench with people sitting on it. This is the black bench at the end of the story, which is called Circle Circle Square. It was seen at Toronto's Eaton's Center shopping mall in 2013.  Kat's website is at   

The black curly wurly bench end was artistically photographed by Andrea in a churchyard in 2008. Andrea is a professional photographer from Braintree in Essex. She has some nice bench photos, among many others subjects, at

If you're a Benchsite follower you'll know there are several pilgrims making their way around the world. Despondency is a character from John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, published in 1673. He appeared previously, waiting despondently at a bus stop bench 

If black isn't your colour, we've got a rainbow of colour choices here on Benchsite. Red benches? No problem. Orange? We got 'em. There are sunny yellow benches for spring and sparkly gold and silver benches for parties. There are 50 shades of grey and pink benches to coincide with the release of That film.What about romantic white benches?  Or  depressing blue ones for Blue Monday. And if yellow benches aren't bright enough for you, we have sunny ones Pretty purple benches? No problem.  For more uplifting, upcycled benches see the green ones at  Somewhere there must be a colour you like!

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