‘My aim is to communicate something of the spirit and the mentality of the English, their habits and their way of life, the ironies that exist in the way they do things, partly through tradition and partly through the nature of their environment and mentality. I have tried to present some of these daily anachronisms in an honest and descriptive manner, the visual aspect being directed by the content. For me there is something very special and rather humorous about the “English way of life”’.
- Tony Ray-Jones (Quote from ‘A Day Off: an English Journal’. Original sourced from ‘Creative Camera’ October 1968).
Eccentric is the best way to describe the figures in Tony Ray-Jones’s images of the English at leisure. If we take the image above as an example, we have two rather middle class couple (possibly bordering on upper class) enjoying an alcoholic beverage in what appears to be a lay-by. This situation is made odder by the fact that the field behind them is full of farmyard animals. It is this sense of eccentricity that runs through his images which are both funny and compelling at the same time, the fact that the English will seek a place of relaxation in often strange ways.
As mentioned before, we seek relaxation in strange ways. The men below are relaxing on the grass, from the image it is hard to tell whether the sun is out or not, but the fact that they are in shirts and ties says that (in my opinion) they are office workers who have briefly left the office to soak up potentially a small amount of sun.A (sort of) peculiar thing happens when the sun comes out in Britain; a lot of people will head to the beach or sit in the park (often during work hours) to soak up the sun (because it is deemed in Britain that the sun coming out or a ‘Nice Day’ is rarer than hen’s teeth). Often, stories come out in the summer saying that the economy suffers during really hot days because productivity goes down.
(Unfortunately, Blogger isn’t letting me upload images for some reason, so the images are in order, ‘Glyndebourne, 1967', 'Southend, 1967' and an image of a packed beach from BBC News)
Notes and Images from: 'A Day Off: an English journal by Tony Ray-Jones (with 120 photographs)'
Image of a packed beach from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/4219172.stm