Last week there was a feature on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show discussing memorial benches; they were responding to a news story about a family’s flowers and belongings being removed from a bench they had left in memory of their daughter. Within this feature, Paddy O’Connell, who was standing in for Jeremy Vine, kept stating that ‘we all love memorial benches’. He described his own behaviour pattern as this:
1. Find a bench and sit down
2. Read dedication and admire view
3. Imagine the person and their life and experiences or memories
4. Reflect on one’s own.
This resonates for me, I’ve always been interested in memorial benches mostly because of point three in that chain, imagining the stories or lives of others.
A few years ago (April 2011) I started the Memorial Bench blog. It’s a very simple concept, based on the premise that I’m not alone in my love of benches, I ask people to email in or tweet photos of benches they come across. Ideally we have a picture of the dedication plaque and then a picture of the view, thereby enabling us all to virtually engage in a similar process of memory and imagining, without needing to visit in person.
Since I started the blog there have been 83 posts, most of them benches, but there is also a hanging basket hook, a plaque, a tree and a fence. There seems to be a growing following on the twitter account @memorialbench and also an increasing number of people sharing benches, so if you love a memorial bench why not hop over and follow the account, so you get notified when new benches are posted, and please do share the blog with people and keep sending in your contributions, it makes for a much better spread of memorials than I’d manage on my own.