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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

About a bench...

I was rushing through my favourite bit of London the other day--the stunning `square mile`. Here, magnificent historic, architectural gems like St Paul`s Cathedral rub broad, stone shoulders with gleaming new kids on the block--full of bankers, lawyers, movers, shakers. And at lunchtime, some escape their sparkling towers,time-travelling two blocks and a couple of centuries to squares like the little hideaway off St Dunstan`s Hill.

You can see them heading for the benches with their sandwiches, lingering over lattes...longing for a few moments` peace and respite from office pressures, for some thinking time alone. There are lunchtime lovers, too; touching, whispering; earnest and certain that their city bench, for just a few moments, makes them invisible. It`s their space; their little `table for two` in the cosiest spot any maitre d`could muster.

If it`s you on the bench, you can just watch the world go by. I still try and stop in Trafalgar Square en route to Charing Cross; watching tourists getting ticked off for trying to tame the lions, or leaning too close to the still-icy fountain water on scorching summer days. I remember standing, as a four year old, covered with pigeons; their tiny claws digging into my head; beaks pecking at the bought seed in my hand-- I didn`t really enjoy it, but mum had paid for the stuff from the bloke on the corner-- it`s what you did on a day out. In New York, we sat munching hot dogs on a bench in Central Park, feeling as much a part of the Big Apple as Carrie; then joined the throngs in Times Square, watching the snaking queues at the ticket booths; each tourist already part of their own Broadway show.

In most cities around the world, a bench can be the only place you have to sleep--one step up from the street; and every person rushing past with somewhere to go is a cruel reminder that you`ve hit rock bottom. In Shropshire, Jim Hawkins uses the simplest of devices...sitting on a bench in a different location each collect and record stories from anyone who cares to stop and share theirs. It`s uncomplicated, brilliant radio.

So that`s it really. You can`t beat watching the world go by from a well placed bench and wondering about all the secrets it keeps. And it doesn`t cost a dime.

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