There’s always something new going on at my home station of Ruislip Manor. They have been rebuilding it for over a year and there is no sign of the work coming to an end. Today I noticed a little cluster of benches parked on one of the huge mounds of earth thrown up by the excavations beside the eastbound platform. They had cardboard wrappers that were half torn off and two of the builders were inspecting them closely. One might conjecture that, stumbling over what may have looked like a giant Valentine’s day present left overnight, they could not resist the impulse to rip off the packaging and caress the smooth wooden sides and gleaming iron frames of the seats.
We have plenty of benches already. A few more won’t hurt but as I have previously written, it is the lack of cover that is the stumbling block. When it rains all the benches are exposed and the only real shelter is at the ticket-office end of each platform. So why not send the benches back, guys, and put in a proper shelter at the eastern end?
Perhaps sponsorship is the name of the game. A tastefully framed sign mounted on the seat-back of the bench might say “You are parking your bum here courtesy of Pedro’s Pizza.” Pedro (just opposite the station entrance) doesn’t get much business – whenever I pass by the shop is empty and makes a sad contrast to Pizza Hut just two doors along. Question is, can our Iberian friend afford any advertising? I expect the big conglomerates in the Manor – Budgens and the more upmarket restaurants – will grab their chance. Or perhaps they will let the commuters put on messages, like the many benches you find in Kenwood marked “in memory of so and so who loved this view”. What might I put? How about “Here sat Anthony on many a boring morning wondering where his train was?” A bit mournful, perhaps. I’ll think of something better the next time I’m standing on the platform wondering where my train is.