While out and about at the weekend I picked up a copy of the Metro and found an intriguing story about one man’s quest to find out more about his family. Standard metro fare you might think, except the chap in question claims to be 103 years old and doesn’t want to hear from his family, rather just about it and is offering a reward for any information provided. Fortunately it seems that there are plenty of park benches around the country that have been dedicated to his ancestors. All of which are slightly quirkly to say the least, which means people are snapping them and trying to find out more about them.
A quick google leads them, and us, to the website that Croy Devenish-Phibbs started as part of his weekly silver surfer course, which seems to be run by some bloke called Gary who pops up a bit in the text of the site, mainly being asked for help in linking. Personally I would’ve expected a course on the internet to recommend starting a blog, but it seems though that Gary is keeping it delightfully old school with the site being created with Microsoft Front Page. This means it has a jarring yet beautifully retro feel and with some lovely broken bits for authenticity. A quick Whois look up reveals that the registrant has chosen to hide their identity, which indicates that either Gary is hot on personal security online or that perhaps it’s not what it seems, which, well, clearly it isn’t. The site was registered in June 2008 and posting seems to have started in August the same year. It also seems that while Croy can’t do basica HTML, he is net savvy enough to search Flickr for possible images, he also has a Twitter account which isn’t extensively used, or indeed followed right now. He also know how to use Google ads, though only for searches that mis-spell the Devenish-Phibbs name.
Croy states that over 100 plaques have been found so far although only 13 are referenced in the photo gallery, with the plaque for Dutch Devenish-Phibbs making two appearances as someone sent in a better picture than the original.
The quality of the images is a bit varied to say the least, with this one by professional photographer Nicolette Wells unsurprisingly being the best thus far.
It is also thanks to Nicolette that we know Croy is actually sending out rewards for those who send him images of new plaques, after she commented over at the Telegraph on a post from February about Croy and his quest.
After posting the pic on flickr I was then emailed by ‘Croy’ requesting where the plaque was found. After several chatty emails about nothing in particular I received a ‘reward’ poste restante to my local post office. This was a string of costume pearls – they look dated from the 50’s/60’s and are in very good condition. There was no senders details on the packing and I like everyone else who comes across ‘Croy’ was intrigued. Parish records have been checked by myself and friends to absolutely no avail. With the pearls was a letter supposedly written by the warden from his sheltered housing apologising for it’s lateness. At no time have I been asked to divulge any of my personal details and no one has tried to sell me anything!
Unfortunately the image for my favourite plaque so far isn’t great, so if you are in Bristol and you see a park bench with the following inscribed on a plaque:
b. 1970 – d. 1955.
Artist, friend, second-hand De Lorean owner”
Then please take a snap and send to croydevenishphibbsATgmail.com.
If anyone can shed any light on who or what is behind this then similarly drop an email to kerrgaffney[at]gmail[dot]com.
Also posted at ClickingandScreaming