There’s a sense of anticipation; something’s clearly about to happen in this photograph.
Whether it’s anything to do with who or what the group of men are watching over the photographer’s shoulder, we’ll perhaps never know. But Margaret Bolt, who has lived in High Bickington for many years, suspects they may simply be waiting for more tables to arrive.
She knows who the men are; from left to right it’s William (Bill) Norman, Herbert Pidler, Tom Courtney, John Tucker, Bill Underhill and Wilfrid Mardon.
Margaret says they were all members of The Athletic Club, an ongoing concern in the village and they were probably part of a working party for the day’s activities, a tea party to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee on June 6, 1977.
She also has an inkling as to who hung up the carefully placed bunting in the background. “Jim Winter used to measure it exactly,” she recalls. “It could be his work.”
The photo is taken outside the village post office, which is still there today; in fact the scene hasn’t changed much at all and royal events are still celebrated in the village, although any street parties normally take place in the adjoining street around the corner.
There is one very noticeable difference however, and that’s how the men are dressed. They may well have set up the tables; but they don’t appear in jeans or casual clothes. Every one is in a jacket and trousers, with ties and polished shoes.
“They’d have had a best suit and next best suit,” says Margaret. She explains that they wouldn’t have bought casual clothes. A best suit would finish up as working clothes, and if it didn’t fit you anymore then someone else would have it. And people wore waistcoats, “it was somewhere to keep their watches”, she says.
The photo was taken in June and the trees are in full leaf, but is it a warm day? Does the picture make us think of summer? And how many June event photos taken in recent years would show an equally unseasonable portrait of an English summer.