In a recent casual survey, I asked, "Where's the nearest seat to your home . . .and
.. can you describe the materials used to make it?"
Judging from the responses, seats mainly in rural areas are invisible. Even when
a seat is taken from its location by the local authority, do people notice that "something"
is missing, but cannot identify what's gone? Drivers have an excuse for not being
observant on the periphery of their driving-vision, when the object doesn't move,
but if pedestrians don't watch out, seats may be a painful barrier. How can residents
not recall the location of a large an object as a seat?
Now for a bit of tongue in cheek. Seat-Watch is not proposing the highest level of
a watch, where the observers guard each and every seat, in every street. Not even
the Naval Watch when a full 24 hours is provided by a number of staff. (Is the ship's
bridge where the original "clock-watcher" was born?) Not even securing a watch-dog's
chain to the seat to protect a piece of our Heritage. Not even constructing a watch-tower
to survey a vast area, signalling to a watchman if potential trouble is simmering.
But . . . .
Writer's note: Did you notice the number of times the word "watch" was mentioned?
just for fun. Now a more serious point.
Seat-Watch urges Heritage carers to observe a local seat and to note any changes
to the construction or appearance. Local Councils may provide a minimal level of
seat maintenance, but you'll need to ask. A cheaper alternative is to invite local
volunteers, (call them Seat Watch Champions) then empower them to watch over hand-made
seating. A brush and tin of varnish extends the life cycle of wooden seats. Perhaps
legislation stymies this course of action, with Health & Safety issues.
Remember the news item, a few years ago, where an enthusiastic villager created a
mini decorated room inside a BT public telephone kiosk, complete with fresh flowers?
I hope the community recorded this for Social History. What happened to telephone
Seat-Watch urges Heritage carers to request Councils to replace any seats beyond
economic repair with a replica. Older designs made from modern materials is a good
compromise (see Knaresborough's "Serpent Seat" ). Replica seats may be ordered fromt
local businesses, in recognition of local Heritage, village craft traditions and
some employment for the local workshops. Perhaps EU regulations insist that a replacement
or replica seat goes to the EU Tender process.
If village seats lose the local connection, communities will witness a fuzzy village