The Jam Setting Sons, Brighton Beach, 1979
The story behind this image
The main thing I remember is that the dog got paid more than I did!
Robin Richards, the art director and I had booked a handsome British Bull Dog for the day and a few friends to help out. We arranged to meet at my place on Castle Rd, Kentish Town early Sunday morning. The dog never showed up. This was before cell phones so we couldn’t ring them or text. We had no house phone, either. After waiting for two hours, we decided to try and find another dog. Not so easy on a Sunday morning. But a friend of a friend had a friend who had BullDog. We rushed to a call box and woke them up. I explained the situation. All was cool, except for one tiny detail the dog was not a bulldog. It was a boxer. It would be a bit like if you replaced the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion with a tiger. Not the same deal but we had to roll with it. We also had to pay the owner a ridiculous fee to get him out of bed for an away day to Brighton at such short notice. To this day many people have no idea it’s a Boxer. They assume it is because it fits the iconic reference we set out to capture with Brighton Beach and a Bulldog. If you check it out though it definitely looks like a Boxer… once you know.
This was just one of many setbacks that day. When we finally arrived in Brighton, the first thing we had to do was staple the Union Jack we had silkscreen-printed to the public deckchair. The moment the dog hit the beach, it was off. The next hour we spent chasing it down. This was going to be a problem as we needed the dog to sit still in an exact position on the beach. In the end, after many attempts, we got some rope and tied him down so he couldn’t run off. We also had to hide the rope it under the pebbles. If you look carefully, you can see a tiny bit of rope hanging from his neck. After a few hours, the dog went on strike and refused to stand up. So we called it a day and began to pack up our stuff. As we ripped the Union Jack off the deck chair, an angry snotty-nosed policeman appeared. To cut a long story short, we got done for defacing public property for stapling a Union Jack to a weather-beaten deckchair. Go figure. But in the punk days, the young and rebellious were treated like terrorists. Any chance the establishment had to knock us, they took with pride. All ended well in the end. The image has over the years become an iconic and recognised image, evoking memories of the Jam and of England, a time gone by. I banged off colour (used for the cover) and black and white film. The black and white shot to me is the one that works. Unfortunately, Polygram didn’t agree.
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