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The big picture: lie back and think of England

In this quintessentially British image, Barry Lewis captures four friends sleeping off lunch in a Peak District car park

There was a time when a day out in the Derbyshire dales did not come with the risk of drone surveillance or police sting operations against coffee-sipping walkers. Barry Lewis took this picture of a dozing foursome in a Peak District car park in 1978. It comes from his book, Being British 1975-2005, and captures that mostly forgotten habit of sleeping off a long lunch in the car before heading home. Nostalgists will note how full advantage is being taken of both of the decade’s most desired motoring innovations: the reclining seat and the integrated sunroof.

The image is bookended in Lewis’s collection of pictures by other unmistakable portraits of national character. Teenagers belly-flop off harbour walls, kids wrestle and fidget on table seats in packed intercity trains, neighbours gossip in passing at the corner shop. Some of the pictures, even this one, might cause an involuntary wince in our socially distanced times: there are boozy arms round shoulders in closing-time pub sing-songs, tweedy toffs packed into hare-coursing crowds and more than one family group picnicking together in cow fields.

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