The Memory Bench

Different cultures deal with death in different ways. In Mexico, of course, there is a special day for the departed – Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. But then Mexico has a special day for every type of person, living or dead. The English method is simpler. A short service, then back home for some triangle sandwiches and crisps and a few beers. Then back to work.

Although that’s the short story. Wherever you walk in Britain you’ll see an inviting bench, ready to take the weight off your feet. The longer you’ve been walking, the more inviting it is. Benches are every where. Town centres, woodlands, along paths, in gardens. Everywhere. And most of them will have a small rectangular metal plaque. Upon which is a dedication to a loved on. It’s a memorial and a seat. We are such a practical bunch, us Brits.

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I never met Bill. But what a great name. It was a fine view too. I always read the plaques. It’s funny to think that there’s a life long story behind each one of them. Many of them mention how the person used to love sitting there for hours. I sometimes can’t help but be grateful they’re gone, or they’d be sitting there still, leaving no place for me to rest my weary bones. I used to wonder how you go about getting a memorial on a bench. So I ‘googled’ it. It’s a council run thing, unsurprisingly. In Bournemouth you dial 01202 451781 an go for option 1.

I’d like a bench with a plaque in my memory one day. Preferably a day quite some time from now, if possible. Does Bournemouth Council allow a little wit or sarcasm on the plaques? I’m guessing ‘stabbed to death with a spoon here whilst admiring the view’ is probably out of the question, although it would be fun to spook a few people. Humourous plaques do exist though, as can be seen here, here and here.

Where should my bench be? Perhaps along Gloucester Road in London. Or across from the British Museum. Both great places to sit and people watch. But no, I think if I am going to sit anywhere for a long time, it should be in Mexico DF. Where the sun shines its warm rays on the city every day of the year. Near the Obregon monument would be nice. Or along Reforma, maybe? No, my preference would be Avenida Alvaro Obregon. My favourite street in the whole city.

I don’t need the plaque to say anything much. It could state how much I always liked a shapely Latina derrière. Lechery beyond the grave appeals to me. But it should certainly be in English, just to bewilder the locals. Gary Denness, 19.10.1972 – 20.10.2073. Lived past a hundred and still never saw England win a bloody World Cup. Such is life. The dates are by far the most important thing…

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10 thoughts on “The Memory Bench

  1. You have given me an idea. My bud died a year ago, his wife and I were thinking of interning his ashes here on my acres in Ohio. I’ve been looking for the proper glacial erratic to mark the spot. A bench with a plate would be better. It will not be so many years but that I’ll need to rest half way round the woodland path. A rest with my bud every day sounds good.

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  2. Avenida Alvaro Obregon is very nice. But I like the shady, less trafficked Calle Colima, just a couple of blocks north of Obregon. Both are in Colonia Roma Norte, México, D.F.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

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    1. I like the whole neighbourhood. I spent many, many Saturdays exploring the area after my Saturday morning class near Metro Ninos Heroes finished. But Alvaro Obregon holds especially fond memories for me. I used to love strolling up looking at the tat on the market stalls, and chatting football to a friend who ran a stall.

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  3. Never thought of it as a British custom particularly. We endowed a park bench for my father, but whether it’s been maintained, I have no idea. My favorite (and I wish I had the photo) is in the Holland Hotel in Alpine Texas. Tommy Lee Jones, who lives in the area, started a barfight there, and as part of the legal settlement for the damages to the bar, paid for a plaque that reads “On this site, Tommy Lee Jones was an asshole”.

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    1. I can’t say I really looked into how international this concept is. I’ve just never noticed it anywhere else.

      Can you imagine if Charlie Sheen had to leave a plaque every time he….errr…behaved less than impeccably? There are hotels who’d have his name engraved on a wall of every room.

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  4. Very funny post! I like your idea of having a plaque in DF. In English. Bemoaning the world cup, LOL.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where, if you have the right connections, you can get an intersection named after you. Of course here we call them “squares.”

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    1. One usually has to be royalty, or at least titled, to get a road named after them over here. More common is a blue plaque. It’s the equivalent of a bench memorial but for for famous people. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the comedian/actor Rik Mayall. Very 80’s, very much humour of the time. In other words, it’s aged and not weathered the passage of time so well. But still, he was a legend. Until a couple of days ago, when he sadly died. Some rapscallion has already given him a blue plaque.

      http://www.dailyedge.ie/rik-mayall-guerrilla-memorial-1509713-Jun2014/

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