This is a true story. Honestly. It might sound unbelievable, but it happened. It really did. And it happened on a day just like any other day. A work day. But not just any work. Work at the cutting-edge of modern photo printing.
A wonder-filled environment for the hopelessly committed and unashamedly optimistic. Satisfying, enjoyable, important work. Rewarding work… not known to be rewarding.
Yet. Who could have foretold that that day, that fateful day that started just like any other, would turn out like it did?
Who could have foretold that the unrewarded would be rewarded with something priceless? And Charlotte. Bubbly. Bright. Great with customers. Who could have foreseen that, on that day, of all days, she would find herself in just the right place at just the right time?
But, she did.
And, it was then that the heavens aligned. It was there that the fickle gods of printing cast down a thunderbolt of inspiration that would change her completely. And, from that day forth, unknown to us, neither she, nor we, would ever be the same again.
But, we’re jumping ahead. Melodramatically.
Back to work. Monday. 10am. The weekend a fading memory – at least until we print the photos of it. So, until then, picture this. Charlotte. Coffee in hand, in her favourite Truprint Photo Mug – the one with the favourite photo of her and Lola (her horse) on it.
She’s drinking. And thinking. And drinking some more. She’s deliberating about something. Suddenly, a look of decision. Rare so early on a Monday morning.
She puts her mug carefully down, sets her jaw and rises from her chair. She grabs a pen and paper, writes a quick message and, leaving her office, sticks it on the door. The message reads “Back in 15 minutes”. But, for all intents and purposes, it might as well have read…
Down and down she descended. Floor after floor. Well, two floors. And then out into the clinically clean and brightly lit factory. The engine room of imagination. Nothing new for Charlotte, though. She’d been here at this shore of personal dreams before. She loved it. It was where the MAGIC happened. And what magic.
Moments, memories, dreams, wave after wave of them flashed past before her eyes in a riot of perfectly captured colour. Small ones, large ones, wide ones. All clear-eyed, all wonderful. All captivating.
And it was there, while casting her eye over this ocean of technicolor dreams, that she saw it.
At first, it looked no different than the others.
It was on its back. Lovingly captured. Exquisitely personal. It lay glinting, gleaming, almost winking. Something about it caught her eye. It seemed different.
To this day she doesn’t really know what made her walk over and look at it. Nosy? But she did. And, in that moment, she was changed forever. For the Layflat Photo Book lay open. Whether by a passing breeze caused by the movement of a busy worker, or whether by fate, we’ll never know.
But, in being open, she had cause to take a quick glance. And it was then that something odd caught her eye. For written on it were the words:
“The ones that nearly got away”
How curious. How interesting. So she looked. Image after image – groups, shoals, schools of them. All sorted proudly. All displayed beautifully. Nothing unusual there. Yet, and this is where the magic happened, they were not what you’d expect. Every single one of the photos was weird, wonky, unusual. Some blurred, others with people blinking. Wait. What?
She was fascinated. She’d never seen anything like it before.
None of them were “NORMAL”. None of them were staged. They were true to life.
Instantly she was hooked. What an idea. What an inspiration. Who knew an Ocean of Dreams held such wonderful oddities?
It was huge.
What a story it would make. She couldn’t wait to tell her colleagues. Her friends. Her family. The world. She looked excitedly around. The workers she could see were all completely pre-occupied with their own tasks. She didn’t dare disturb them.
She looked around for anybody. A cleaner. A manager. Vacant. She ran to the window. Why? Heaven knows. Maybe to remind herself she wasn’t dreaming. Maybe to catch her breath. Then she returned to where it had all begun. But, somehow, somewhere, it had gone.
The loving and loved Layflat Photo Book had disappeared.
Had it slipped quietly back into that vast ocean of memories? Had it simply disappeared back into the depths of magic and mystery, never to be seen again?
No. It had been quickly, carefully and lovingly packaged and transported to its eagerly awaiting owner. But let’s not tell Charlotte that.
Such disappointment. Not the Layflat Photo Book. Charlotte. Do Keep up.
What could she do? How could she preserve the memory of that magical moment? Was it an opportunity missed?
And it was the thought of that, of missed opportunities, that haunted her all the way back to the Horse’s head. Not a pub. Her cup. Again, keep up.
Who could she tell? Who would believe her? And, more importantly, who would want to listen to another story about…
“The one that got away”
At her desk, horse head mug in hand, she made her second decision of the day. She was on fire. She decided there and then she would tell that story. Why?
Because it was important. Because it meant something. Because it was a story that just had to be told.
Moments are fish in an ocean of memory. They shimmer and sparkle and gleam. They’re slippery. They live secret lives until, one day, we see them. We notice them. And, in noticing them, we recognise something. We recognise their worth. We recognise their importance as a part of a much vaster ocean of life. We recognise their magic. Just like that. Out of the blue.
Like Charlotte did.
And it’s then that we too must do something important.
We must remember to protect and preserve them. To sustain them. To encourage their survival. To help them stay part of our lives. Even if they’re beleaguered. Even if they’re ugly. Even if they’re misfits. Even if, by every misguided standard we’re told we must apply, they just don’t seem to measure up.
We must protect them from the Land of Fake Believe. We must protect them from plastic. We must preserve their magic. They’re not just another idea to be cropped out of the bigger picture.
A shoal of uncaught fish is wonderful. A shoal of captured moments is perfect. Don’t throw them back. Like Charlotte didn’t.
And that Layflat Photo Book? Its owner? Who was that brave fisher of forgotten photos?
Maybe we’ll never know. But, whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you.
You’re a true to life hero too.