Wherever I lay my towel…

This year I went on holiday abroad with my family to a hotel with a pool. This was a new experience for me. As such, I was ignorant of the practice of reserving sunloungers around the pool.

One Sunday morning we decided to have a lazy day around the pool to recover from a long excursion. I went to the pool at 8.45am and all the sunloungers had towels on them. But there was not a soul in sight and only a few tourists were up and having breakfast.

I later learnt that hotel guests were up at 6.30am reserving sunloungers with their towels that morning. (The hotel was predominantly occupied by Brits, so xenophobes couldn’t blame Germans.) By midday, all the sunloungers still had towels on them, but a quarter remained unoccupied. What was at the root of this selfishness? Are Brits so ontologically insecure that they require a sunlounger reserved for them just in case they decide to venture out to the pool?

Our daughters (aged seven and eight ) were most disappointed that they had nowhere to sit when they came out of the pool that morning … though they had no end of pleasure being the first to jump into the pool, breaking the surface of the smooth waters.

Our eldest daughter voiced a sense of injustice at not having somewhere to sit around the pool despite us being the only ones using it. I responded by saying this is precisely why people go into politics. Though the problem with poolside politics is that there is no democracy and, with the hotel staff unwilling to intervene, no ruling party.

“What are we supposed to do? Put our towels on a sunlounger for a fortnight?” One family complained to the hotel staff about the unoccupied sunloungers with towels draped over them. The hotel staff removed some towels from sunloungers which had not been used all day. When their owners arrived at the pool a few hours later, some just reclaimed their sunloungers, saying “We were here first”. Others were more vocal and threatened the hotel staff for removing their towels. Subsequent complaints to hotel staff were met with a shrug of shoulders – “Sorry my friend.”

Meanwhile, in London and in cities across the UK, young people were rioting and looting. The civil disorder, with its origins in unemployment, poverty and social injustice, circumvented politics. If all the energy of discontent is thrust into making political systems work effectively to address injustice, what a different world this will be.


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