The ‘Reasons to Be Cheerful’ Sonic Vista Bench

The Ian Dury memorial bench in the grounds of Richmond Park


To mark his life, Ian’s family, along with The Blockheads and Warner Chappell Music Ltd, donated a bench to Richmond Park in 2002. It can be found at Poet’s Corner within the grounds of Pembroke Lodge.

This is no ordinary bench. Product designer Mil Stricevic (Visit Mil’s website HERE) designed the ‘talking’ park bench as part of his Sonic Vista project to enable people to listen to Ian’s music while enjoying views of the park. Up until 2013 the embedded soundtracks were accessed via a set of headphones plugged directly into solar powered MP3 players in the arms of the bench but unfortunately these were vandalised or succumbed to the elements. Therefore, the bench wasn’t working for some years and a new approach was required. In 2015 Ian’s family, with help from the Royal Parks, put in place plans to refurbish the bench and it was decided to replace the MP3 players and the solar panels with metal plates on which a QR code can be scanned via a smart phone. All you need to do is download a QR code reader and bring a set of headphones so that you can listen to the music recordings and the interview in private. Visitors can access nine Ian Dury and the Blockheads songs and hear Ian’s Desert Island Discs interview with Sue Lawley – first broadcast on Sunday 15th December, 1996.

“Dad used to visit the park a few times a week over a period of years and it was very special to him – he loved it. It was one of the places where he felt he could go without being spotted all the time. There were two things, amongst others, he was very passionate about – getting out into the countryside and the availability of music. He would have loved the idea of a bench where people could listen to his songs and enjoy the view.” (Jemima Dury, 2002)

Ian Dury and the Blockheads track listing:
01 Reasons to Be Cheerful
02 Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll
03 Clevor Trever
04 Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick
05 Sweet Gene Vincent
06 My Old Man
07 There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards
08 What a Waste
09 Inbetweenies

Ian’s Desert Island Discs choices – first broadcast Sun 15th December, 1996
01.Bobby Charles
Small Town Talk
Bear Pack No. 1 – Various Artists, Bearsville

02.Dean Martin
That’s Amore
Moonstruck Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Capitol Records

03.Frank Crumit
Abdul Abulbul Amir
Mountain Greenery, ASV

04.Gene Vincent
Woman Love
Gene Vincent Be Bop A Lula, Capitol Records

05.Taj Mahal
Music Keeps Me Together
Music Keeps Me Together, CBS

06.Alma Cogan
The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane
The A-Z Of Alma, EMI

07.Ann Peebles
I Can’t Stand The Rain
Get Around The 70s, Radioplay

08.Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman – Complete Atlantic Recordings, Atlantic

You can visit Richmond Park’s Ian Dury Bench page HERE