Following on from my last blog I was asked the question why I felt so strongly about not feeding the pixies. Always keen to get a cheap laugh I replied, rather glibly that feeding them only encourages them.
The truth is that, as always, it’s more complicated than that. In fact, I’m not sure there is a full and frank answer – so instead I’ll tell you a story.
There was a girl I knew - we'll call her Girl A. I didn’t know her particularly well – we worked in the same office, in the same department and occasionally we said hello. That was pretty much the extent of our relationship, except I knew from reputation that she was a good and honest hard worker who knew the job well.
She got “seconded” to the role of Team Leader – this basically means a promotion that they can take away any time they want, and they don’t even have to pay you any extra money.
And the thing was that she was a great Team Leader, but she was very quiet and didn’t interview well. Now anyone who doesn’t know British employment law may not realise that you can’t just promote someone for doing a good job these days – you have to advertise the job out and interview people…so even though she’d been doing the job 100% every day for 6 months, then 1 year, then nearly 2 she never got promoted because she didn’t tick the right boxes in interview. Finally she got another job somewhere else and the company lost a great employee.
Then there was another girl - Girl B, similar age. This girl i knew all too well. She was the bane of my life for 6 months or so. Every day i'd come into work wondering how much of my day would be spent clearing up her mess. She knew nothing about the job other than how to pass the buck and I've yet to meet a single person who had a positive word to say about her, but boy could she tick boxes and smooth management egos– result: instant promotion.
But moving on with the story – during the summer I cycle to work. Cycling, next do doing creative things, is one of my favourite pass times. I love the feeling that I get when I turn down a new country lane and find myself stuck in a farmer’s field. When I cycle to work, and it’s a nice day, I have to fight the urge to just keep going, going, going and never come back. The world feels so full of promise that it hurts.
These are the moments that keep us all going through the boring and the unfair bits – the days where we save an awful job for the afternoon because the alternate is having nothing to do, the moments where we feel our lives slipping away. We console ourselves with the thought of the painting we will create at the weekend, the book we are reading, the partner we long to hold.
I look at the world with my head on its side, amusing myself with its peculiarities and its rules and regulations. Sometimes I think the alternative is to go insane.
And you can only listen to the people telling you that they’re more important for so long before you see them for what they are – and with that revelation comes a certain degree of freedom.
And then you find yourself standing at the bus stop, watching the sun reflect in the broken window of a derelict building and you realise how much beauty there is going unseen and how much we miss by sleepwalking through our lives so much.
Some years ago I was stopped by a religious person in the street whilst photographing a pile of bricks. He told me that it was the devil working through me, pointing towards the destruction and debris. I feel sad for this man - if you look hard enough you can see evil in anything...but as someone once said "you have to see with better eyes" (please, someone remind me where that quote is from?)
When Cervantes wrote Don Quixote he created a character who finds himself let down by the reality of the world around him, who creates an elaborate fiction that the world is full of heroes and giants and that one man, no matter what his age, can make a difference. Not such a bad delusion at the end of the day.
This isn’t much of an answer to the original question, but it’s the only one I have.