Former Guardian picture editor Eamonn McCabes TV series Britain in Focus has been graphing the history of photography in the UK. Here, Irvine Welsh, Sadiq Khan, Jeanette Winterson, Nadav Kander and others pick the fires that sum up Britishness for them
A astonishing miner, Orgreave, 1984
Luke Wright, poet
This rich, beautiful photo by Don McPhee proves striking miner( Striking? Hes absolutely sumptuous !) George Geordie Brealey( right) and policeman Paul Castle( far left) at Orgreave on 18 June 1984. What followed, known as the Battle of Orgreave, was one of the severest clangs in recent British civil biography, as 6,000 police officers and 5,000 miners faced off at the Orgreave coking plant in South Yorkshire.
Brealey was said to have form for joking and clowning with police officers on the picket line. Wearing a childs bobbies helmet, he would pretend to inspect the lines. Here is one guy, sarcastically incognito, facing an infinite militarised police force. Brealey is at once brave, good-humoured and anti-establishment a British hero.
I was two in 1984, so this event is beyond my living remember, but it seems increasingly relevant to the fractions of contemporary Britain. Orgreave tagged a turning point in the 1984 -8 5 miners ten-strike, and for labour relations in the UK. Zero-hours contracts, the left-behind, the discords of Brexit they moment back to a moment like this.