If you have have been to New York and walked in Central Park, you are very likely to have sat on a bench for a bit of a rest. It’s 800 acres of loveliness, same size as Hampstead Heath in NW3: yet another wonderful coincidence. I was using a bench earlier today to do tricep dips in a vain attempt to combat bingo wings. I am a lady of a certain age and anything I can do to stop my upper arms wobbling is worth a try.
Anyhow, I’m huffing and puffing and trying to recover from running in ridiculously humid New York when a man in a van stops by. He’s from the Parks department according to the words on the side of the van he is the man who sorts out the benches . Adopting a bench is a programme of the Women’s Committee of the Central Park Conservancy. He looks pretty well kitted out for the job with brown leatherish apron and a drill in the his hand. I watch him examine each bench in turn and then he focuses on mine. What’s wrong, I wonder? Have I ruined the bench’s aesthetic with my sweaty bum? No, apparently not. He is there to switch the silver plate that dedicates to the bench to someone who loved the park. Seems like a nice thing to do and not uncommon in other parks, other cities and other countries.
A man stops by and talks to the parks fella and asks how much it costs to get a plaque on the bench. “$8,000, sir”. The man, clearly not expecting this, looks amazed, slightly crestfallen, and wanders off. The parks man explains to me, because I am still nearby, cluttering up the place, that you get the bench for life and it’s a small price to pay to help with the upkeep of the park. I’m fairly sympathetic to this and agree with a sweaty nod; I bet there are lots of fancy New Yorkers to give them the cash for more benches in the future. Don’t think I’ll get one dedicated to me and my triceps, not quite how I want New York to remember me.