The story so far

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Towel elephants and symbolism

On Thursday, as part of our preparations for going to Australia, I travelled up to Norwich for a family party. In doing so I listened to Radio 1 for the first time in a while. In inane fashion, Scott Mills was discussing of all things "the towel elephant". Apparently in Indonesia and Thailand especially, you can arrive back in your hotel to find that housekeeping have left elephants, sleeping men or even monkeys fashioned from carefully arranged towels or other items of bed linen. Since the trip to Aus would involve a nine-day stopover in Thailand I wondered......"wouldn't that be great, a nice little towel elephant. The kids would love it". I was cautioned not to raise their hopes by the tale of one listener who had raved about the towel creatures to his wife only to be disappointed. On the second day in the Indonesian resort he had even made a "towel snail" as a hint to housekeeping, but no towel creatures had arisen.

Not wishing this disappointment on the kids I forgot all about it. We had a nice party on Sunday with the whole of Hannah's dad's side of the family. There were 7 Barnes, 6 Trolls, 4 Lawrences, 4 Wiltshires and 2 Spooner-Wrights (actually 1 Spooner and one Wright but neither wanted to be left out)

On Monday we left for Europe (yes, I know Norwich is considered to be geographically in Europe). We were planning a last big trip to visit friends and family overseas in France and Switzerland as well as a trip to Eurodisney - trying to wring the last drop of Euro culture into our cup before our perception of what could be a dry spell to come.

We checked into the Maidstone Hilton for the night, a perk of the hotel working lifestyle I'm looking to leave behind. As usual the kids wanted to open the doors, wheel the suitcases and maintain a level of excitement over the spleandours of Hilton that has long-since left me.

They both charged off down the corridor, their high spirits even seemingly impervious to the verbal barrage from Hannah which I believe related to Zoe running over her foot with the suitcase and taking a small portion of her beautifully painted nail with it.

When we arrived in the room both girls stood amazed and I joined them in similar awe as before us on the bed was nothing other than...yes, a towel elephant!

This photographic representation, having been subjected to a robust examination by both girls does not, I believe fully represent the original creation in all it's glory, however, the point is not to dwell on the subject, but on the sybolism it brings and what it represents to a father, troubled in his thoughts, wondering if he is doing the right thing throwing away a job, a career, friendships and memories. Moving to the other side of the world with no future to offer his children but what might be.

When I saw that towel elephant I had this warm feeling. The world is a good place, full of wonderful things, I had this wish for my kids and it came true, even before I thought it would.

That's like Australia - I have this dream for the Kids that it will be a better life for them. Maybe the elephant was a sign. A kind of symbolic towel elephant. What it represented was the possibilies that life in Australia could bring us. And with hope comes possibility.

Of course the other, more rational side of me says. I got all my luck in that Maidstone hotel bedroom. That elephant is the last luck I'll see for a while.