A few years ago, my son came home from school very pleased with himself.

He said “Look what I found in a skip, Dad.”

And he held up three advertising awards.

They were tarnished, rusty and grimy.

I recognised two of them: British Television Awards Arrows.

One was an award I didn’t recognise.

It looked like a big gold letter Y with a ball stuck in the top.

I said “You don’t want those dirty old things, chuck them back in the skip.”

He said “No, these were very important to someone once.”

And he cleaned them up and kept them in his bedroom.

I suppose, for a youngster, awards are impressive looking things.

Especially when you’ve never won any.

You take them seriously.

You think they actually mean something.

One arrow was silver, one was bronze.

After he cleaned them off, I read the inscriptions.

Both arrows said “British Television Awards 2000. European Award Olympus Optical Co “Stalker” made for Lowe Lintas by Tony K. Films”

The gold Y-shaped award said “Eurobest 1998 TV/Cinema. Lowe Howard Spink “Two Hats” UDV UK”

I wondered what they were doing in a skip.

If they were so valuable, how did they end up there?

It reminded me of the scene in Antonioni’s movie “Blow Up”.

David Hemmings is in a nightclub watching a group perform on stage.

All the girls are screaming.

Onstage, the group begin to smash their instruments against the amps.

The crowd become hysterical.

One of the group smashes his guitar to bits and throws the broken neck into the crowd.

Everyone dives for it.

David Hemmings grabs it first.

The crowd are like wild animals trying to get it off him.

He fights his way to the door and escapes into the street.

The girls chase after him.

He runs as fast as he can.

Gradually, some of the girls stop running.

He dives down an alley.

Two of the girls are still chasing him.

He ducks behind some dustbins.

They prowl up and down the ally.

Eventually, when they can’t find him, they give up and go back to the nightclub.

When they’ve gone, David Hemmings gets up and dusts himself off.

Then he looks at the broken guitar neck he’s holding.

It’s as if he’s seeing it for the first time.

He wonders why he’s hanging on to it.

And he chucks it into a bin and walks away.

See, once the hysteria was over he could see what he’d actually got.

And he realised he only wanted it because everyone else wanted it.

And because everyone wanted it he didn’t even question its value.

If everyone wanted it, it must be worth having.

It must be precious.

That’s how it is with awards.

Everyone wants them because everyone wants them.

We don’t want the actual award itself.

What we want is everyone else’s respect.

And how we get that is by getting what we think they want.

That’s how we are with everything.

Cars, watches, clothes, houses, jobs, relationships. restaurants, schools for our children.

We want what other people want.

Because then that will earn us their respect.

But the problem is they only want what they think other people want, too.

And that includes us.

So they think they can earn our respect by getting what we want.

And we think we can earn their respect by getting what they want.

And we all chase awards hoping to impress each other.

And sometimes, after we’ve got it, we sit and actually look at it.

And wonder what all the fuss was about.


Which is how, I suspect, those awards ended up in the skip.