Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A review of a bench

Not this bench. That would be ridiculous.

In the absence of a new James Bond film for the next 457 days, I've been hunting around for something else Bond-related to witter about. Fortunately, as if sensing the urgent need for intellectually stimulating blog fodder, somebody recently rocked up in London's fancy Bloomsbury Square Gardens and dumped a bench designed to look like a book which had some James Bondy stuff on it, so I thought: fuck it. I am going to review the shit out of that bench. So I did.

And here it is.

A review of a bench.

The 'James Bond stories' BookBench (Freyja Dean, 2014)
Bafflingly described by exhibition organisers Books About Town as "the only one of our benches with a licence to kill", the James Bond BookBench is one of a series of fifty literary-based seating solutions dotted around our fair capital between July 2nd and September 15th. There's a Bridget Jones's Diary BookBench, a Sherlock Holmes BookBench, a War Horse BookBench and, as they say, many more. One particularly sexy BookBench is designed to look like the time machine from that book about the time machine; I forget its name.

Clearly the only bench worth discussing, however, is the James Bond BookBench. Nestled within the hornbeam hedges of Bloomsbury Square Gardens, the bench shares space with another BookBench representing Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly. The juxtaposition of these two giants of 1950s popular fiction suggests an intriguing crossover tale in which the two men work together to solve a murder mystery at a country manor in a charming English village, which Bond blows to all holy fuck in the final act's big set-piece.

All the BookBenches are designed to not only be benches, but also to look like books, which is bloody clever when you think about it. Sadly you cannot flip through the pages of the BookBenches because they are solid structures, but it's the thought that counts.
Please do not attempt to read the bench.

You can, however, sit on them, and I cannot fault the James Bond BookBench for its buttock-resting properties. It's comfier than it looks, with a pleasing curvature to the back and seat: perfect for weary tourists, Bond fans and homeless people.

The bench features a playing card design by artist Freyja Dean which is, in a good way, quite mad. It features Bond himself, carefully depicted unlike any of the actors who've played him on screen, quaffing a martini (or possibly milk in a martini glass) and being frowned at by a clearly disapproving Queen. The opportunity to sit on James Bond's face is confusingly appealing, and I did so with a mixed sense of arousal and shame.
Speaking exclusively to The Incredible Suit, Freyja Dean explained the inspiration for her design. "I wasn’t actually very familiar with Bond when I began so I bought the books," she revealed. "What turned out to be most useful, though, was a book about the lifestyle of Bond and Fleming, Henry Chancellor's James Bond: The Man and His World. It really helped me connect with the period and the atmosphere and from that point I was totally engrossed." The Incredible Suit can confirm that this book is amazing and that everyone should own a copy, even you.

Opposite Bond is the image of a Joker, in another potential franchise crossover kind of way. But this Joker has nowt to do with pointy-eared men dressed in black and moping about in secluded mansions, as Freyja Dean explained: "I was trying to think which villain would be the most iconic to put into the design with Bond and the Queen," she told me. "I decided to go with Blofeld, and in one of the books he’s described as having long, lank hair, no earlobes and a gold tooth, so that’s who the joker is."
I was surprised to see the word "QUIM" displayed boldly in the centre of the back rest and wondered if it was representative of Bond's eternal pursuit of fanny until I realised it was the middle portion of the motto of the Order of the Garter, "Honi soit qui mal y pense", which surrounds the shield of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. I chose not to ask Freyja Dean about the prominence of the apparent vagina euphemism in case she somehow got the impression that I was in some way unprofessional.

That said, I was desperate to know one more thing: was she tempted to cut a hole in the seat so gentlemen could sit on it naked and have their knackers walloped with a length of sturdy knotted rope? "If it wouldn’t have looked like a public toilet, I’d have considered it," she told me. So now you know.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the James Bond BookBench. It successfully fulfils all necessary criteria by being James Bondy, booky and benchy, and I might even go as far as to say that it is probably one of my top five benches of all time. In fact I'm struggling to actually think of any other benches I like, so I may as well go ahead and call it

"The greatest bench ever made"
- The Incredible Suit

Just in case anyone is looking for a poster quote.

The James Bond BookBench, along with all the other, lesser BookBenches, will be auctioned to raise money for the ruddy brilliant National Literacy Trust on October 7th this year. Feel free to buy it for me as payment for this blog post.

With huge thanks to Freyja Dean.

1 comment :

  1. Dame Judi Bench would be proud.

    (I'm very ashamed of this.)

    I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to The November Man in a Never Say Brosnan Again kind of way. Whether he is from MI6 or the CIA is not terribly important, it's not like his accent will change.