This is a bench. It's located about eight feet from where I'm moored on the canal at the minute, meaning that when I'm onboard I see or at least hear whoever inhabits it. In the past seven days we've had young French men eating takeaways and drinking pilsner from sunset to late into the night. Fathers teaching their sons how to fish. Arguing couples, of all ages. Retired couples bringing a home made supper and small bottle of wine to share together, along with sharing two hours of silence. Young Euro architects stopping off after a night of clubbing in the early hours to discuss life love and London, and staying until the sun had long since come up. Gangs of local youths who's use of English was far worse than their behaviour in reality, rambling alcoholics with only super strength cider for company, a nightly visit from the canal bin man and his portable World Service broadcast to announce his arrival, and just about everything in between (it's in Kings Cross after all). If it wasn't for the bench they probably wouldn't stop, as a sit down in the nettles isn't quite as appealing. But they do stop, and take a short, sometimes long, break from where they're going to or coming from. They stop and have proper conversation, or just think for a bit. They sit and spend some time with now.
If benches hadn't previously been invented a long time ago I think we'd be getting pretty exited about them right now. They'd be the subjects of blog posts listing what brands can learn from benches, they'd probably attract Governmental funding. We'd call them 'social media for society' and look for monetization opportunities. But we just take them for grantage all those benches, all those conversations, all those stories.