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David Lodge

HOTEL DES BOOBS


Hotel des Pins said Harry More like Hotel des Boobs
Come away from that window, said Brenda Sto behaving like a Peeing !om"
#hat dyo$ mean, a Peeing !om said Harry %ontin$ing to stare down at the ool area
thro$gh the slats of their bedroom sh$tters" & Peeing !om is someone who interferes with someone
elses riva%y"
!his is a rivate hotel"
Hotel des !its" Hotel des Bristols" Hey, thats not bad' He t$rned his head to flash a grin a%ross
the room" Hotel Bristols, in the l$ral, (eddit)
*f Brenda got it, she wasnt imressed" Harry res$med his wat%h" *m not interfering with
anyones riva%y, he said" *f they dont want eole to look at their tits, why dont they %over them
$)
#ell go and look, then" Dont ee" (o down to the ool and have a good look" Brenda
dragged a %omb angrily thro$gh her hair" Hold an inse%tion"
Brenda snorted derisively"
#hy not) +o$ve nothing to be ashamed of' He t$rned his head again to leer en%o$ragingly at
her" +o$ve still got a fine air"
!hanks very m$%h" *m s$re" Said Brenda" B$t * intend to kee them %overed as er $s$al"
#hen in ,ome" said Harry"
!his isnt ,ome, its the C-te d&.$r"
C-te des !its" Said Harry" C-te des /no%kers"
*f *d known yo$ were going to go on like this, said Brenda, *d never have %ome here"
0or years Harry and Brenda had taken family holidays every s$mmer in ($ernsey, where
Brendas arents lived" B$t now that the %hildren were grown $ eno$gh to make their own
arrangements, they had de%ided to have a %hange" Brenda had always wanted to see the So$th of
0ran%e, and they felt theyd earned the right to treat themselves for on%e" !hey were 1$ite %omfortably
off, now that Brenda, a re%ent grad$ate of the 2en 3niversity, had a f$ll4time 5ob as a tea%her" *t had
%a$sed an agreeable stir in the managerial %anteen at Barnard Castings when Harry droed the name
of their holiday destination in among the Benidorms and Palmas, the Costas of this and that, whose
merits were being debated by his %olleag$es"
!he 0ren%h ,iviera, Harry)
+es, a little hotel near St" ,ahael, Brenda got the name o$t of a book"
(oing $ in the world, arent we)
#ell, it is ri%ey" B$t we tho$ght, well, why not be e6travagant, while were still yo$ng eno$gh
to en5oy it"
7n5oy eyeing all those toless birds, yo$ mean"
*s that right) said Harry, with an inno%en%e that was not entirely feigned" 2f %o$rse he knew in
theory that in %ertain arts of the Mediterranean girls s$nbathed toless on the bea%h, and he had seen
i%t$res of the henomenon in this se%retarys daily newsaer, whi%h he fil%hed reg$larly for the sake
of s$%h ill$strations" B$t the reality had been a sho%k" 8ot so m$%h the romis%$o$s, anonymo$s
breastbaring of the bea%h, as the more intimate and so%ially %omle6 n$dity aro$nd the hotel ool"
#hat made the ool different, and more dist$rbing was that the women who lay half4naked aro$nd its
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David Lodge
erimeter all day were the same as those yo$ saw imma%$lately dressed for dinner in the evening, or
nodded and smiled olitely at in the lobby, or e6%hanged small talk abo$t the weather with in the bar"
&nd sin%e Brenda fo$nd the tree4shaded ool, a few miles inland, infinitely referable to the heat and
glare and %rowdedness of the bea%h :not to mention the robable oll$tion of the sea;, it be%ame the
rin%ial theatre of Harrys initiation into the new %ode of mammary manners"
Harry < he didnt mind admitting it < had always had a thing abo$t womens breasts" Some men
went for legs, or b$ms, b$t Harry had always been what the boys at Barnards %alled a tit4fan%ier" +o$
were weaned too early, Brenda $sed to say, a diagnosis that Harry a%%eted with a %omla%ent grin" He
always glan%ed, a simle refle6 a%tion, at the b$st of any se6$ally interesting female that %ame within
his $rview, and had sent many idle moments se%$lating abo$t the shaes that were %on%ealed
beneath their sweaters, blo$ses and brassieres" *t was dis%on%erting, to say the least, to find this
harmless astime rendered totally red$ndant $nder the Proven=al s$n" He had s%ar%ely beg$n to assess
the fig$res of the women at the Hotel des Pins before they satisfied his %$riosity to the last ore"
*ndeed, in most %ases, he saw them half4naked before he met them, as it were, so%ially" !he snooty
7nglishwoman, for instan%e, mother of twin boys and wife to the t$bby sto%kbroker never witho$t
yesterdays 0inan%ial !imes in his hand and a sm$g smile on his fa%e" 2r the female artner of the
(erman %o$le who worshied the s$n with religio$s .eal, t$rning and anointing themselves
a%%ording to a stri%t timetable and with the aid of a 1$art. alarm" 2r the deely tanned br$nette of a
%ertain age whom Harry had rivately %hristened Carmen Miranda, be%a$se she soke an eager and
raid Sanish, or it might have been Port$g$ese, into the %ordless telehone whi%h the waiter &ntoine
bro$ght to her at fre1$ent intervals"
Mrs" Snooty had hardly any breasts at all when she was lying down, 5$st boyish ads of what
looked like m$s%le, tied with f$nny little t$rned4$ niles that 1$ivered like the noses of two small
rodents when side stood $ and moved abo$t" !he (erman ladys breasts were erfe%t %ones, smooth
and firm as if t$rned on a lathe, and never seemed to %hange their shae whatever ost$re she adoted>
whereas Carmen Mirandas were like two brown satin bags filled with a vis%o$s fl$id that ebbed and
flowed a%ross her rib4%age in %ontin$al motion as she t$rned and twisted restlessly on her mattress,
awaiting the ne6t hone %all from her absent lover" &nd this morning there were a air of teenage girls
down by the ool whom Harry hadnt seen before, re%lining side by side, one in green bikini ants and
the other in yellow, regarding their re%ently a%1$ired breasts, hemisheres smooth and flawless as 5elly
mo$lds, with the 1$iet satisfa%tion of ho$sewives wat%hing s%ones rise"
!here are two new%omers today, said Harry" 2r sho$ld * say, fo$r"
&re yo$ %oming down) said Brenda, at the door" 2r are yo$ going to send the morning
eering thro$gh the sh$tters)
*m %oming #heres my book) He looked aro$nd the room for his ?a%k Higgins aerba%k"
+o$re not making m$%h rogress with it, are yo$), said Brenda sar%asti%ally" * think yo$
o$ght to move the bookmark every day, for aearan%es sake"
& book was %ertainly basi% e1$iment for dis%reet boob4wat%hing down by the ool@ something
to eer over, or ro$nd, something to look $ from, as if distra%ted by a s$dden noise or movement, at
the oort$ne moment, 5$st as the bird a few yards away slied her %ost$me off her sho$lders, or
rolled on to her ba%k" &nother essential item was a air of s$nglass, as dark as ossible, to %on%eal the
re%ise dire%tion of ones ga.e" 0or there was, Harry reali.ed, a roto%ol involved in tolessness" 0or a
man to stare at, or even let his eyes rest for a meas$rable san of time $on, a bared bosom, wo$ld be
bad form, be%a$se it wo$ld violate the f$ndamental rin%ile $on whi%h the whole ra%ti%e was based,
namely, that there was nothing noteworthy abo$t it, that it was the most nat$ral, ne$tral thing in the
world" :&ntoine was arti%$larly skilled in managing to serve his female %lients %old drinks, or take
their orders for l$n%h, stooing low over their rone fig$res, witho$t seeming to noti%e their
nakedness"; +et his rin%ile was belied by another, whi%h %onfined tolessness to the ool and its
margins" &s soon as they moved on to the terra%e, or into the hotel itself, the women %overed their
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David Lodge
$er halves" Did bare tits gain and lose eroti% val$e in relation to arbitrary territorial .ones) Did the
breast eagerly ga.ed $on, fondled and n$..led by h$sband, or lover in the riva%y of the bedroom,
be%ome an ob5e%t of indifferen%e, a mere anatomi%al rot$beran%e no more interesting than an elbow or
knee%a, on the %on%rete rim of the swimming ool) 2bvio$sly not" !he idea was abs$rd" Harry had
little do$bt that, like himself, all the men resent, in%l$ding &ntoine, derived %onsiderable leas$re and
stim$lation from the tolessness of most of the women, and it was $nlikely that the women themselves
were $naware of this fa%t" Perhas they fo$nd it e6%iting, Harry se%$lated, to e6ose themselves
knowing that the men m$st not betray any sign of aro$sal> and their own menfolk might share, in a
vi%ario$s, rorietorial way in this e6%itement" 7se%ially if ones own wife was better endowed than
some of the others" !o inter%et the admiring and envio$s gla%e of another man at yo$r wifes boobs, to
think silently to yo$rself" +es, all right mate, yo$ %an look as long as its not too obvio$s, b$t only *m
allowed to to$%hem, see) !hat might be very e6%iting"
Lying beside Brenda at the oolside, di..y from the heat and the %onsideration of these $..les
and arado6es, Harry was s$ddenly transfi6ed by an arrow of erverse desire@ to see his wife naked,
and l$st after her, thro$gh the eyes of other men" He rolled over on to his stoma%h and $t his mo$th to
Brendas ear"
*f yo$ll take yo$r to off, he whisered" *ll b$y yo$ that dress we saw in St" ,ahael" !he
one for twelve h$ndred fran%s"
!he a$thor had rea%hed this oint in his story, whi%h he was writing seated at an $mbrella4
shaded table on the terra%e overlooking the hotel ool, $sing a fo$ntain en and r$led fools%a, as was
his wont, and having a%%$m$lated many %an%elled and rewritten ages, as was also his wont, when
witho$t warning a owerf$l wind arose" *t made the ine trees in the hotel gro$nds shiver and hiss,
raised wavelets on the s$rfa%e of the ool, kno%ked over several $mbrellas, and whirled the leaves of
the a$thors man$s%rit into the air" Some of these floated ba%k on to the terra%e, or the margins of the
ool, or into the ool itself, b$t many were f$nneled with astonishing seed high into the air, above the
trees, by the hot breath of the wind" !he a$thor staggered to his feet and gaed $nbelievingly at the
leaves of fools%a rising higher and higher, like es%aed kites, twisting and t$rning in the s$n, white
against the a.$re sky" *t was like the visitation of some god or daemon, a Pente%ost in reverse, drawing
woods away instead of imarting then" !he a$thor felt raed" !he female s$nbathers aro$nd the ool, as
if similarly %ons%io$s, %overed their naked breasts as they stood and wat%hed the whirling leavers of
aer re%ede into the distan%e" 0a%es were t$rned towards the a$thor, smiles of symathy mi6ed with
S%hadenfre$de" Bidden by the shar voi%e of their mother, the 7nglish twins s%$rried ro$nd the ools
edge %olle%ting $ loose sheets, and bro$ght them with doggy eagerness ba%k to their owner" !he
(erman, who had been in the ool at the time of the wind, %ame $ with two sodden ages, %overed
with weeing longhand, held between finger and th$mb, and laid them %aref$lly on the a$thors table to
dry" Pierre, the waiter, resented another sheet on his tray" Cest le etit mistral, he said with a mo$e
of %ommiseration" B$el dommage' !he a$thor thanked them me%hani%ally, his eyes still on the
airborne ages, now mere se%ks in the distan%e, sinking slowly down into the ine woods" &ro$nd the
hotel the air was 1$ite still again" Slowly the g$ests ret$rned to their lo$ngers and mattresses" !he
women dis%reetly $n%overed their bosoms, renewed the ali%ation of &mbre Solaire, and res$med the
$rs$it of the erfe%t tan"
Simon' ?aser' Said the 7nglishwoman, #hy dont yo$ go for a walk in the woods and see if
yo$ %an find any more of the gentlemanCs aers)
2h, no, said the a$thor $rgently" Please dont bother" *m s$re theyre miles away by now"
&nd theyre really not imortant"
8o bother, said the 7nglishwoman" !heyll en5oy it"
Like a treas$re h$nt, said her h$sband" 2r rather, aer %hase"
He %h$%kled at his own 5oke" !he boys trotted off obediently into the woods" !he a$thor retired
to his room, to await the ret$rn of his wife, who had missed all the e6%itement, from St" ,ahael"
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David Lodge
*ve bo$ght the most darling little dress, she anno$n%ed as she entered the room" Dont ask
me how m$%h it %ost"
!welve h$ndred fran%s)
(ood (od, no" 8ot as m$%h as that" Seven h$ndred and fifty, a%t$ally" #hats the matter, yo$
look f$nny)
#eve got to leave this hotel"
He told her what had haened"
* sho$ldnt worry, said his wife" !hose little brats robably wont find any more sheets"
2h yes they will" !heyll regard it as a %hallenge, like the D$ke of 7dinb$rgh &ward" !heyll
%omb the ine woods for miles aro$nd" &nd if they find anything, theyre s$re to read it"
!hey wo$ldnt $nderstand"
!heir arents wo$ld" *magine Mrs" Snooty finding her niles %omared to the nose tis of
small rodents"
!he a$thors wife sl$ttered with la$ghter" +o$ are a fool, she said"
*t wasnt my fa$lt, he rotested" !he wind srang o$t of nowhere"
&n a%t of (od)
Pre%isely"
#ell, * dont s$ose He aroved of that story" * %ant say * %ared m$%h for it myself" How
was it going to end)
!he a$thors wife knew the story retty well as far as he had got with it, be%a$se he had read it
o$t to her in bed the revio$s night"
Brenda a%%ets the bribe to go toless"
* dont think she wo$ld"
#ell, she does" &nd Harry is leased as P$n%h" He feels that he and Brenda have finally
liberated themselves, 5oined the sohisti%ated set" He imagines himself telling the boys ba%k at Barnard
Castings abo$t it, making them ribaldly envio$s" He gets s$%h a hard4on that he has to lie on his
stoma%h all day"
!$t, t$t' said his wife, How %r$de"
He %ant wait to get to bed that night" B$t 5$st as theyre retiring, they searate for some reason
* havent worked o$t yet, and Harry goes $ to their room first" She doesnt %ome at on%e, so Harry gets
ready for bed, lies down, and falls aslee" He wakes $ two ho$rs later and finds Brenda is still
missing" He is alarmed and $ts on his dressing gown and sliers to go in sear%h of her" ?$st at that
moment, she %omes in" #here the hell have yo$ been) he says" She has a e%$liar look on her fa%e,
goes to the fridge in their room and drinks a bottle of Perrier water before she tells him her story" She
says that &ntoine inter%eted her downstairs to resent her with a bo$1$et" *t seems that ea%h week all
the male staff of the hotel take a vote on whi%h female g$est has shaeliest breasts, and Brenda has
%ome ti of the oll" !he bo$1$et was a mark of their admiration and rese%t" She is distressed be%a$se
she left it behind in &ntoines room"
&ntoines room)
+es, he had %oa6ed her into seeing his room, a little %halet in the woods, and gave her a drink,
and one thing led to another, and she ended $ letting him make love to her"
How imrobable"
8ot ne%essarily" !aking off her bra in $bli% released some dormant streak of wantonness in
Brenda that Harry had never seen before" She is rather dr$nk and 1$ite shameless" She ta$nts him with
grahi% testimony to &ntoines skill as a lover, and %omares Harrys genital e1$iment $nfavo$rably
to the 0ren%hmans"
#orse and worse, said the a$thors wife"
&t that oint Harry hits her"
2h, ni%e' Eery ni%e"
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David Lodge
Brenda half $ndresses and %rawls into bed" & %o$le of ho$rs later, she wakes $" Harry is
standing by the window staring down at the emty ool, a ghostly bl$e in the light of the moon" Brenda
gets o$t of bed, %omes a%ross and to$%hes him gently on the arm" Come to bed, she says" *t wasnt tr$e,
what * told yo$" He t$rns his fa%e slowly towards her" 8ot tr$e) 8o, she says, * made it $, * went and
sat in the %ar for two ho$rs with a bottle of wine, and * made it $" #hy) He says" * dont know why,
she says" !o tea%h yo$ a lesson, * s$ose" B$t * sho$ldnt have" Come to bed" B$t Harry 5$st shakes his
head and t$rns ba%k to stare o$t of the window" * never knew, he says, in a dead sort of voi%e, that yo$
%ared abo$t the si.e of my ri%k" B$t * dont, she says" * made it all $" Harry shakes his head
disbelievingly, ga.ing down at the bl$e, breastless margins of the ool" !hats how the story was going
to end, with those words, Gthe bl$e, breastless margins of the ool"H
:in Mal%olm Bradb$ry :ed;, Modern British Short Stories, Peng$in Books, London, 9IJJ, DAK4DDD;
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