The Anti-social Art of Sunbathing

A sunburnt memory of my father

Philip Ogley
The Narrative Arc
Published in
4 min readJun 8, 2024


Some sunbathers in 1920s
Lazy sunbathers in Nantucket, 1920 (Wiki Comms)

My father hated sunbathers. He couldn’t understand why people would willingly sit out on a boiling hot beach with a thousand other people, burning their skin like a short-order cook grills hamburgers in a diner.

He thought they were idiots. Not just because they resembled pink mice strung out on a toaster, as he once said. He regarded sunbathing as the epitome of anti-social behaviour.

‘They’re just lying there!’ he once observed, as we briskly walked up the promenade in Scarborough one day, a holiday resort in North Eastern England.

‘They are not doing anything!’ he railed.

My father was a walker, a doer, a mover. A man who couldn’t keep still even if he was chained to his chair. Every second of every day had to be taken up with activities or work until he sat down at the table for his evening meal.

Then after, he would rush out to do something. Either in his office, in the garden, or the attic until he collapsed into bed. Then wake up at six, and the whole thing would start again.

The fact that people had the time to lie on a bed of fine yellow gravel, shocked him. He couldn’t handle it. People just lying there…