Bench Marks

Oh, those heady days of the year 2000 – when anything could happen and we were all starting our lives afresh. Some of us wrote down our hopes and ambitions for the twenty-first century - most of us in the privacy of our own diaries (yeah, not many of us had blogs then…)

But a few brave people took part in an ITV-sponsored Year of Promise” Millennium Project, sponsoring benches outside the Queen’s House, baring their souls and engraving their hearts’ desires onto plaques plastered all over seat backs in the grounds outside the Queen’s House for the rest of us to enjoy. And, ten years on, they’re still there. For a while, Stephen and I were a little concerned as, for reasons best known to themselves, the NMM put them all the other way round, facing away from the view:

But I’m happy to say they are now back facing the park and ready for action:

Some of them are very sweet “We will hug our daughter Alisha every day.” Others are noble ” I will give some of my time to a voluntary organisation.” There are a lot to do with blood doning. Some are ahead of their time – like the guy who was going to use his (at the time relatively rare) knowledge of the internet to help others, or the people who were vowing to recycle things – still pretty radical stuff in 2000. Some of them are just plain un-doable IMHO “I will go to bed at 9.15 every night,” though others are a little more realistic –  ”I will do most of my homework on the day I get it.”

So. Now it’s the end of 2010. I wonder how many of those earnest vows have been fulfilled, exactly ten years on. Lincoln Nurse – how’s your bank balance?

Patricia May Eaton – did you ever ”record those twenty years experience of our legal system’s anomalies?” I truly hope so – and if not, let’s have it now.  What about Patricia O’Sullivan – are you still volunteering? Saheed Rasoul, I doff my tricorn to you if you have managed to “drive within the speed limit” for an entire ten years. And Rita Ann Jillings, I am slightly scared to ask whether you did indeed knit “a jumper a month for the children of Kosovo” – I have a terrifying Sorcerer’s Apprentice vision of Kosovan kiddies disappearing underneath an ever-growing mountain of fair-isle patterns…

So, Brenda, how’s that cine transfer going? I have a horrid feeling it must be on its 19th format by now.

I find myself feeling for poor Paul McDonald whose pledge

 hasn’t quite paid off yet.

How about young David Rooke?

Of course that particular pledge allowed for plenty of illicit fags behind the bike sheds before you’re grown up – but – how’s it going? No? Nothing? Not one teeny tiny smoke?

One of my favourites has to be Philip Robinson, who pledged “I will raise awareness of the music of Marc Bolan.”

Well, Philip, I’m going to help you out on that one. Here, folks, is the T Rex song that seems most appropriate to today’s millennium theme:

I highly recommend a visit to the pledge-benches for a read of ordinary folk’s ambitions for the new millenium. Day dream, like me, about what these people might be doing now, how their hopes, ambitions, fears, lives and loves might be.

Jason – I truly hope you’ve got over evil David and found that someone special.

Alison - how’s that  missionary zeal going? Has it led to the swelling of many a dental hygenist’s books?

Sheila – I’m sure the premature babies are cosier for your pledge – and if you didn’t quite manage all of them I suspect those Kosovan kiddies might be able to spare a few.

I’ll leave you with a fabulous one, by Ruth Moore, which I think I may adopt as my own:

“I will exchange a smile with someone I do not know every day.”

I’ll be slightly scary-looking stalker-type grinning at you on the underground, okay…

Happy New Year, folks!


the attachments to this post:

plaques micklefield
plaques micklefield

plaques lincoln
plaques lincoln

plaques legal
plaques legal

plaques eggs
plaques eggs

plaques croydon
plaques croydon

plaques cardigans
plaques cardigans

plaques brenda
plaques brenda

plaques alison
plaques alison

plaques smoke
plaques smoke

bench 3 low
bench 3 low


7 Comments to “Bench Marks”

  1. Dazza says:

    I think we should all adopt the ‘smile at a stranger’ pledge. Would make travelling on the impersonal tube a lot more enjoyable.
    I, once, did the unthinkable and tried to help a fellow passenger with his hiccups. I think the Armed Response Unit was a little overboard but I understood that I had broken the Cardinal rule.
    Anyway, many thanks to you Dear Phantom for the entertainment over the last 12 months and I look forward to the next 12 with baited breath.
    To one and all, a Very Happy New Year and may 2011 be the year all our wishes coming true.

  2. darryl says:

    ITV? I remember that… happy new year!

  3. Ebspig says:

    Wishing you, DP, and all, a Very Happy New Year.

  4. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Londonist. Londonist said: Benches in Greenwich record people's new year resolutions from 2000 http://ow.ly/1rZ21l [...]

  5. Mrs Bins says:

    A dear friend of mine from Birmingham is spending the festive season in Blackheath. She’s an avid runner, and has noticed that on her runs on the heath and in Greenwich Park, not one fellow runner has smiled back at her when she smiles at them. Surely SE London is a more friendly place than Birmingham?!

    Please smile at Claire if you see her running. Alas, I am no runner, and left Greenwich 10 months ago so cannot even sit on a park bench and smile at her as she zooms past.

    Happy New Year Phantom, and thanks for keeping those like me who have moved away in touch with what’s happening in a much-loved part of London where I spent 14 (mostly) happy years.

  6. al barker says:

    Smiling at strangers, is weird, scary and disqualifies you from being a Londoner.

    Strangers smiling at you is even weirder and scarier.Are they deranged? Simple? Don’t they know where they are?

    That sort of thing is for the North and rural parts where it’s easier because many folk are already related.