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​Sunbeds R Us Letters from the Atlantic by Barrie Mahoney

'Writing Inspired by an Island in the Atlantic'

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​Sunbeds R Us

Sunbeds R Us

I am often told that Brits on holiday like nothing better than to get out of bed long before their all-inclusive breakfast has even hit the frying pan, and to chase outside to the swimming pool in their boxer shorts or bras (or possibly both) in order to place a vivid Union flag towel on the sunbed of their choice. It is even more exciting if there is a mad competitive dash with the Germans, with Brits gaining immense satisfaction if they reach their prized position first.

Why, oh why is one of the tour companies determined to ruin such jingoistic pleasures with the introduction of a ‘book and pay before you arrive’ sunbed option when booking a holiday in the Canary Islands. For the princely sum of 22 euros per person per week, potential holidaymakers can view a virtual image of their choice of sunbed, together with its ideal position close to the swimming pool, bar or most importantly, the toilets, from their home in Mansfield before even stepping on the plane. Gone are those heady days of the mad dash before breakfast. One thing to be thankful for, I guess, is that Ryanair will not be in charge of the seating allocations. Just imagine it, the entire family split up and lost in various dark corners of the pool area. Oh yes, I nearly forget to mention, the only reason for this change of sunbed policy is to raise additional cash for the tour operators. After all, their senior executives are anticipating a hefty pay increase on the back of it, and an additional charge of £176 for a family of four staying for two weeks is not to be sneezed at. Maybe now they can also employ someone to give the sunbeds a good scrub down from time to time?

Spoilsports or what? Personally, I have little time for sunbeds mainly because of the dubious sticky residue that is often lingering after the visit of the previous guest. I also get bored very easily, and lying on a sunbed for more than 30 minutes is not my idea of a good time. Would I select a sunbed close to a swimming pool anyway? Certainly not. As someone who has spent a good part of an earlier career looking after a primary school swimming pool, I know only too well what goes into them, and it has very little to do with pre-packaged chemicals. I shall never forget that heady perfume of a mixture of chlorine and urine and, as a result, I now do my utmost to avoid swimming pools of any kind.

I also have a problem with Madge and her family. Remember that television series, Benidorm? Whenever I see a sunbed, I have a vision of that foul speaking creature, Madge, and her apology of a family, all desperately trying to achieve the impossible by gaining both the skin of an elephant and an untreatable form of skin cancer in just one week’s holiday in the sun. Just add a mobility scooter and we could create our own series right here in the Canary Islands.

I guess that I should now mention Brexit, but only in very hushed tones, of course, since people can be very sensitive about such comments. I hear that the Germans have had this option of pre-booking a sunbed for many years. You really must hand it to them - first class organisers, as well as VWs and sausage. Now for the bad news; rumour has it that the new ‘book a sunbed before you fly’ option will only be available until Britain leaves the European Union. After that, it will be a point of serious negotiation and strategic compromise, but my sources in Brussels tell me that the likelihood of maintaining this advantage will be dependent upon a satisfactory trade deal, so Mrs May may well have a problem with this one, and I expect she will be looking for a lengthy transition period. Reliable sources close to the centre of UK decision making also tell me that the Honourable Member of Parliament for the 18th Century, Joseph Septimus Smog, is determined that this newly acquired right of expat sunbed reservation will never be taken away, and certainly never given up to the Germans. Indeed, he has staked his future and that of his unborn child, Octavius Smog, on this one. Let’s wait and see.

So, to British holidaymakers everywhere, do make the most of the new sense of freedom that this new sunbed strategy will give you, even if only for a short time. That dash outside in the early hours of the morning, to casually throw a Union flag towel over your choice of sunbed with gay abandon could shortly be a thing of the past. Brits can now awake at a sensible time and enjoy their all-inclusive breakfast in peace.

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