Sunday, March 26, 2006

Benches and posteriors

click photo to enlarge
Why are public benches not as comfortable as they used to be? I'm sure they aren't! It's not just my older backside being more sensitive: those benches are much less forgiving than when I was younger. I can remember happily sitting in comfort, in front of the town hall, on painted wooden slats, supported on ornate cast iron frames, happily watching the world go by. In those days there was never a thought that what you sat on would be anything less than satisfactory. But now, I have to give careful consideration to the act of resting my weary body on a public bench.

There are two groups to blame for this state of affairs - vandals and local councils. Those who carve their names on public benches, or graffiti them, or set fire to them, or pull them apart, or leave unmentionable objects on them, are responsible for councils having to install benches strong enough to survive a direct hit by a small nuclear device! This usually means them being wholly or partly made of either steel or reinforced concrete. Now I don't know about you, but none of the seating I've bought for my home and garden involves me resting my posterior on either of these materials. It's true that wood is sometimes used today, but the pieces are so large they could be used as pit props in a coal mine! Over the winter months my bottom has been offered seating in stainless steel (danger of frostbite), polished granite (danger of frostbite and a cracked skull) and plastic masquerading as wood (why?). And the shapes of those benches! They don't have even a passing acquaintance with the shape of the human body. The designers today love to create something that looks "different", but where's the proper support for bottom and back?

However, modern benches, though pretty awful for sitting on, are often pretty, and consequently of some use to us photographers! This one at Morecambe, Lancashire, in its purpose-built, brick, "C" shaped recess, looks great - all curves and painted metal strips. By crouching down at one end, and using my zoom at its widest (28mm), I was able to exploit the interesting shapes the designer put into it. My shot shows the main structure in the foreground, with the sensuous sweep of the rest of the bench filling the background.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen