Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK, 11/2010

‘Blue Carpet,’ Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK

The image above is of a piece of Public Art called ‘Blue Carpet’ designed by Thomas Heatherwick. I’ve always noticed these unique benches outside The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne and then I found this fab image of it on the following website taken by SteveT:

Interestingly as I was hunting for an image to go with my next poem in the ‘Consultations with my mother series’ – Benchmark – I found the above photo through a Telegraph piece entitled ‘World’s best benches: in pictures.’ This bench in Newcastle (my home town) was number 6!! The UK has 4 benches in the top 10 in the world. Who knew!!?

This is worth clicking through – I particularly liked the Zombie bench in London designed by Neon…  it needs a home apparently!


VI – Benchmark


Cheers Mum



We clink wine glasses on the bench,

Outside Mum’s house on Castle Lane


This is nice


A peacock struts and calls on the wall above our head


Noisy things, always screaming


The Kaiser Chiefs are playing Warwick Castle tonight

It’s a balmy evening


She spied this sunny spot next to the castle entrance

As we meandered back from M&S, with our bottle of Sauvignon


We like to people watch


There is nothing like drinking a crisp white wine on a public bench

Outside your house, when there’s a half decent concert on.


What do you reckon, to the music?

It’s OK, better for being free

Ha. Cheers to that!


A man stops near us, with a Cocker Spaniel

Neither of us are dog lovers


We nod to the owner, raise a glass

Nice evening for it!


(I often marvel at my Mum’s ability to talk

To anyone, anywhere, any time.)


She soon has the man’s confidence,

Knows where he lives, his situation:


Divorced, recovering alcoholic,

Wife got the children,

Rebuilding his life –


As we chat and drink our wine

I marvel at how Mum puts this

Stranger at his ease.


I listen to them talking and stroke the dog,

His name (the dog’s) is Wilson.


The man and his spaniel eventually leave,

Mum has a new friend.


He was nice

(I say after the man has gone)


Yes, lovely dog too. I don’t normally like dogs.


You can chat for England you know

Well, what else are you going to do on a sunny evening?



We sit in companionable silence for a while, on the bench


It’s a gift Mum

What is?

Your ability to talk to anyone and everyone


She looks at me, then narrows her eyes


That dog is a child substitute


I smile and then laugh; it comes out like a bark

Yes. You’re probably right


I was thinking exactly the same thing


Fancy a top up?


(Sometimes, Mum and I are more similar than I like to admit)


Yes please


She hands me her glass and I trot inside

As Mum marks our bench,

Swinging her legs in time to the music.



Copyright Eliot North 2016




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