Friday, June 01, 2012

Sundays aren't what they were

click photo to enlarge
Lazy Sunday afternoon,
I've got no mind to worry,
Close my eyes and drift away.
from Lazy Sunday Afternoon (1968) by the British band, the Small Faces

When, in my teens, I heard this popular song by the Small Faces, a single that reached number 2 in the UK charts and was a track on their early "concept"album, "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", Sundays were very different from today.

In those increasingly remote times buying and selling on Sunday was illegal except for certain products and certain premises as detailed in the Shops Act 1950. This proscription on Sunday trading was of long standing, was sanctioned by the churches and the trade unions, and had the support of many of the public. It made Sunday a quiet day. Roads had fewer cars, pavements fewer people, the pace of the day was slower than that of the other six days. However, parks were busier, as were other places of leisure because, unable to spend their time buying, people gave more time to relaxation. Scenes such as the one in today's photograph were commonplace on Sundays, and though they are not unknown today, the parks are emptier and the pace of life of the weekend now almost matches that of the weekdays. Sundays past suited me and many others, but a large section of the population, especially those involved in retail, wanted Sundays to be a day when trading could take place. Many working people wanted it too because it gave them both of the weekend days on which they could do their shopping. Consequently, in 1994, the Sunday Trading Act came into force in England and Wales. This was something of a compromise in so far as shops could now trade, in the main, between the hours of 10.00am and 4.00pm and working on Sunday was optional for staff. These concessions were probably crucial in securing the support of the churches and the trade unions. It was a change that is unlikely to be overturned now that shopping has become the main leisure pastime. The "old" Sundays have gone for ever, something I regret, a point of view that puts me into yet another minority!

The sight of three generations of a family sauntering along the path of the riverside park in Hereford on a recent Sunday afternoon sent my mind back to those days, a time when the pace of life was less hurried, the "day of rest" was just that, was a lot quieter and there was time to sit and reflect, stand and stare, or "close my eyes and drift away", without the encouragement to go shopping being omnipresent.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 105mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/100
ISO: 1250
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On