“The English regard slackness as a vice. We, on the other hand, should vastly prefer it to tension. Is there not too much tension in the world at present, and might it not be better if more people were slackers?”
Like fine wine, time has only made the words of author James Hilton, penned 80 years ago, the richer. In the frenetic chaos of 2015 who could argue with the logic contained in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon, or indeed with the quest of his war-weary traveller Robert Conway to find Shangri-La, a hidden valley in which time almost seems to stand still.
In this place of legend its inhabitants find such peace that the very process of aging slows drastically.
Eight decades on, amid the 24-hours-a-day coverage of the world’s woes, one can understand the appeal of that Utopia, and see why marketeers would use the fable to reflect their luxury hotel brand, just as thousands of hotels worldwide are named ‘Paradise’ this or that.
I could be cynical, but as I sit by the pool at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah resort in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman, in a hidden cove cut off by mountains from the outside world, I must confess they have not done a bad job.