Mar 31 2012: Colour Snapshot Featuring A Man On A New Town Concourse With A Shopping Basket (c.1970s)
I couldn’t help connecting this image to that of an unknown electrician (or at least, a man who might have been an electrician) posted here back in November. I’ve scrutinised it many times trying to work out if the same person features in both, but I can’t quite decide. Sometimes, the two portaits look like they could be portraits of the same individual, taken some years apart and in very different contexts, at other times, it seems likely that they’re two entirely different men. In one sense, at least, they do seem to represent the same thing, that being the sort of post-war experience of an emergence from war, austerity and insecure employment to the moderate comforts of at least some time off, a steady and reasonable wage and – perhaps – some kind of belief in a better future built on those small things. There’s no date on this picture, but it looks very much as though it would have been taken in the mid to late 1960s, perhaps in some newly redeveloped town centre (the precinct and background multi-storey give this away), early enough in the cycle for the flower bed to still be properly tended and the street clear of litter. The man carries an empty basket, as though walking towards the promised abundance of consumerism, and as before, I find it intriguing to wonder where men like these felt the world they lived in was going: did they feel optimistic or pessimistic? Consider all the changes taking place as the signs of a world improving or one collapsing around them? Did they want or even foresee the reversals that lay ahead? I suppose we’ll never know.