Wednesday, 7 November 2012


I hope I haven't off pissed you by using such a cliched header, but this is not about swimming round London. Or even skiing.  But please don’t turn over, this *is* still about swimming, and heritage, a campaign and the need for all of us, swimmers or no, just to make a little mark that could make a difference.

I say ‘swimmers or no’ because I don’t think the campaign you can read about here, which is about saving and restoring Kings Meadow Open Air Baths in Reading, is just for people who like swimming, or indeed would use this pool.  The libraries campaign isn't just for people who use them - their presence improves life for everyone on some level. And we all have to do things that may not benefit us directly. The on-shore element of tax from people whose kids go to private schools, funds state schools. (I get particular satisfaction from that.) The tax from people who have Bupa helps pay for Bupa nurses to be trained. The tax from people who hate nuclear weapons goes to pay for nucle… oh god I’m really fucking up my argument here.  What I mean is: I personally am unlikely  to go to Kings Meadow more than once or twice. It’s not going to be a local pool for me, and since when was ‘going to Reading’ a treat? But that doesn't stop me selflessly promoting this campaign, not only because I'm a little angel but also because I see the bigger picture.  

I am very sceptical about e-petitions. They have become a pointless salve: look how engaged I am, how amazing, I’m re-tweeting a petition, an act that cost miliseconds I could have spent looking at kittens crammed into jars. There's so many petitions of variable quality or purpose it's sometimes hard to see the wood for the trees. (I signed that one. I like trees.) But in this case, the council have SPECIFICALLY said they want to see evidence that the campaign has support. I think a petition is a good way for us to give them that message, and probably easier than all going round the council's house for tea. It would get too crowded.

I fully accept – this is not life or death, it’s not Hillsborough or trees or libraries. IT’S MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THAT. Only joking. But it is still important. If I can get over-dramatic for a moment,  this is about people over profit. Yeah, that old chestnut. I know. Rolls eyes. How dull. But it is. And sometimes the little stories are microcosms of the bigger ones. (The defeat of profiteers who would happily ransack and ruin every last inch of loveliness left to their own devices, is just a nice little side benefit.) It’s about history over pointless concrete; about something for all rather than something for money. It's about retaining something old rather than going to Primark for a cheap and shiny replacement. All the stuff we purport to care about. Don’t we? Well I do, and it's not just me, I know it. But more than that: this space somewhere for people to enjoy for no reason at all. Just … because.  (Well, for you to enjoy. Not me. It’s too far to travel. I told you, ever unselfish.) 


I’ll leave you with a link to the petition. Here.  Have a look. Then sign it. It’s just local people trying to help local people. And we’re all local people, aren’t we? So do it for yourself, if no one else. Please.


  1. Kittens crammed into jars?

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