Pillow Plumpers

An appeal by Mrs Eleanor Stuffing

Good evening.

I'm going to shock you now - did you know that there is no international standard for the plumping of pillows? Exactly - I can tell that you're as flabbergasted as I was when I first found out. What a hellish night that was. I was staying at the Travel Sty in Carshalton after an extended pre-wedding shopping trip. It's not anybody that I like, the wedding, but no excuse for a bit of retail therapy is unwelcome. It's four star, the Travel Sty, and whilst I'm obviously used to the full five star treatment, I'm not above roughing it once in a while. It's good for the constitution.

Anyhow, four star is decent enough. You get the mini-bar, the en-suite, the room service, the hot towels and the pillow plumping service. I particularly appreciate the pillow plumping as I find that I simply cannot get a wink of sleep on a flat pillow, and at the end of busy day trying on hats, I'm far too pooped to do it myself.

So, I was looking forward to having my pillows plumped to a professional standard, but my excited anticipation was sadly misplaced. If there is a wrong way to plump a pillow, then the Travel Sty in Carshalton, four stars or not, has certainly nailed it. To start with, the maid they sent up to do the plumping was a small, frail and somewhat wan creature. To successfully plump a pillow you need to give it a bit of welly. Ergo, you need to have a bit of meat on your bones. I'm not saying you should be built like a weightlifter, but you certainly need to be able to get the lid off a jar of chutney without feeling faint and having to go and lie down. This girl, no offence to the poor thing, looked like she was likely to get lifted out of her own shoes at the first sign of a strong breeze.

But she gave it a good go. No doubt about that. She punched, she pummelled, she swung and slammed the pillow around like someone not quite at peace with the world. I would have said that her enthusiasm very nearly made up for her inadequacy, had it not been for the inescapable fact that her efforts were totally and inescapably ineffectual. The pillow remained flat, lifeless and totally unplumped. If there was any kind of measure of plumposity, if there were a scale that could somehow represent, in plumpometres, just how plumped a pillow is, then this would most assuredly register a zero. In fact, you might even record a minus figure, because to my exhausted but nevertheless experienced eye, this pillow seemed less plumpy now than when she started.

I mentioned nothing at the time. I was tired and, after all, it was not this girl's fault that she had been assigned a task that was so obviously beyond her capabilities. Besides, she had gone quite red in the face as a result of her adventure in soft furnishings and I was now quite anxious to bustle her out of the room before gravity got the better of her.

I did, however, have one or two choice words to say to the manager the next day. I remonstrated with him most strongly over his establishment's failure to provide an adequate standard of pillow plumpage. I accused his company of having a cavalier attitude towards the comfort, wellbeing and safety, yes safety, of its patrons. I may even, at one point, have called him a 'dick'. I accept that this lapse into personal abuse was neither professional nor strictly on topic, but my temper was obviously elevated by my having spent a restless night on a unplumped pillow, so I reason that he only had himself to blame.

I concluded this encounter by informing him of my intention to raise a complaint with whichever body is responsible for ensuring that adequate standards of pillow plumpary are maintained throughout the hospitality industry. He concluded the encounter by shrugging and walking off, which I have previously observed to be a typical reaction of people that I have overwhelmed with logic, reasoned argument and the sheer force of my personality.

I was certainly pleased with how this confrontation played out, and was only slightly peeved to discover, on attempting to follow through with my threat, that no such organisation exists. There is no one tasked with upholding the standards of pillow plumping, not in this country or anywhere else. I wrote to the government, the Hoteliers Association, Trading Standards, the Red Cross and even the RSPCA, but received only polite denials, vague suggestions and a 'wildlife of the riverbank' bookmark from the RSPCA, whom I assumed managed to mix up my letter with someone else's. There is nobody, absolutely nobody, to whom you can turn if you have had to put up with an unplumped pillow.

We cannot allow this situation to persist. You agree with me, I'm sure. We live in a world where the proprietors of hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfast establishments and such like can set their own definitions of what is and what is not a plumped pillow. To some people - not you, obviously - but people who lack vision, this might seem like a minor point. I disagree. Lawlessness is lawlessness, and if we allow these anarchists to play fast and loose with our bedding, there's really no knowing where it can end.

And this is why I am forming the People's Organisation for the Regulation of Pillow Plumping, so that together we can campaign for legislation to end this intolerable situation. I'm sure you will be happy to join me.

Mrs Eleanor Stuffing

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