Punch Line by Roger Bamber

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Punch Line. The Guardian July 1992

Brighton’s Punch-and-Judy man Sergeant Stone was setting up shop in readiness for the school holidays when four year old Jermaine Briffa wandered along the deserted beach with his father and provided puppeteer him with a small but enthusiastic audience. The child was so enthralled with his one-to-one with Mr Punch, that he totally ignored a photographer bearing down on him clicking away, and telling Sgt. Stone to keep the banter going. Michael Stone’s tent and puppets are now on display at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. The photograph was part of a portfolio that won Ilford Press Photographer of the Year in 1992 and was also used as a poster for Ilford film, with the slogan “That’s the Way to Do It”.

Briffa was just four when he provided a small but enthusiastic audience as the Brighton Punch and Judy man set up, ready for the school holidays. The child was so engrossed in his one-to-one conversation with Mr Punch, he ignored Roger Bamber bearing down on him with an 18mm lens.

The picture was used by the Guardian to mark the start of the summer holiday season in 1992 and went on to win several awards. It was part of Bamber’s portfolio when he won Ilford Press Photographer of the Year for 1992 and was used for the Ilford poster campaign “That’s The Way To Do It!” Ten years later, Jermaine’s mother wrote to the Guardian to say that the picture had come to mean something very special to her.

She said: “Shortly after the picture was taken Jermaine was taken ill with encephalitis. He was in hospital for a further three weeks whilst he re-learnt how to eat, drink, talk and walk. The following seven years have been a constant battle for Jermaine against severe migraine attacks and epilepsy but throughout all if this he has always tried his best. He is now 12 years old getting on 20! I am writing as a very proud mother; proud that my son has coped so well with his illness and proud that he is in such an emotional photograph.