When, in 2006, Peter Hennessy’s book Having it so Good — Britain in the Fifties came out, the publishers, wanting to catch the optimistic spirit of the decade, decided to place on the spine the image of Roger Bannister crossing the line at Oxford in 1954, at the breaking of the four-minute mile (‘Going sub-four’, OT Online, 13 May 2014).
In order to display his whole body as he breasted the tape, it was necessary to include his outstretched right hand. This meant that the semi-focused image of a spectator was incorporated into the principal picture. The man fate had selected was Roger Pinnington (Pinners to his friends), a middle-ranking distant runner, wearing his Lincoln scarf (it was a chilly evening) who was teased about it at the time. He was, probably, not entitled to be inside the track — but that was a different age.
It is to be hoped that no attempt will be made to airbrush him out in the future years: he is essential to the complete image. One look at the expression on his face is enough to confirm the rapture experienced by all of us who were enormously fortunate to be at the Iffley Road track that evening in May 1954.
Yes; a great day for the Rogers!