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Town Mouse. The bench, king of park life. Tom Hodgkinson

Regulars | By Tom Hodgkinson

By Robert Thompson

One of the greatest pleasures afforded by city life is completely free. You don’t need to work hard, go into debt or struggle in any way and it’s available to everyone, prince or pauper, man or mouse. It’s the park bench – a temporary escape from grind, bustle and the consumerist race. My own favourite benches line the main walkway in Kensington Gardens. I eat my cheese sandwich on one at lunch, doze, read, observe the habits of the exotic ducks, ponder the imponderables, and consider the majesty of the city around me. A public bench means freedom. Park benches are romantic, anonymous zones. We imagine spies meeting on them, and lovers. They are refuges. We don’t like sharing them with strangers. Bench etiquette determines that you should sit on an occupied bench only if there are no empty benches available. If you do, sit as far away as possible...

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