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TitleHotel Des Boobs
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Page 1

David Lodge

HOTEL DES BOOBS

‘Hotel des Pins’ said Harry ‘More like Hotel des Boobs’
‘Come away from that window’, said Brenda ‘Stop behaving like a ‘Peeping Tom’.
‘What d’you mean, a Peeping Tom’ said Harry continuing to stare down at the pool area

through the slats of their bedroom shutters. ‘A Peeping Tom is someone who interferes with someone
else’s privacy’.

‘This is a private hotel’.
‘Hotel des Tits. Hotel des Bristols. Hey, that’s not bad!’ He turned his head to flash a grin across

the room. ‘Hotel Bristols, in the plural, Geddit?’
If Brenda got it, she wasn’t impressed. Harry resumed his watch. ‘I’m not interfering with

anyone’s privacy,’ he said. ‘If they don’t want people to look at their tits, why don’t they cover them
up?’

‘Well go and look, then. Don’t peep. Go down to the pool and have a good look’. Brenda
dragged a comb angrily through her hair. ‘Hold an inspection.’

Brenda snorted derisively.
‘Why not? You’ve nothing to be ashamed of! He turned his head again to leer encouragingly at

her. ‘You’ve still got a fine pair.’
‘Thanks very much. I’m sure.’ Said Brenda. ‘But I intend to keep them covered as per usual.’
‘When in Rome.’ said Harry.
‘This isn’t Rome, it’s the Côte d’Azur.’
‘Côte des Tits.’ Said Harry. ‘Côte des Knockers.’
‘If I’d known you were going to go on like this,’ said Brenda, ‘Id never have come here.’
For years Harry and Brenda had taken family holidays every summer in Guernsey, where

Brenda’s parents lived. But now that the children were grown up enough to make their own
arrangements, they had decided to have a change. Brenda had always wanted to see the South of
France, and they felt they’d earned the right to treat themselves for once. They were quite comfortably
off, now that Brenda, a recent graduate of the Open University, had a full-time job as a teacher. It had
caused an agreeable stir in the managerial canteen at Barnard Castings when Harry dropped 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 colleagues.

‘The French Riviera, Harry?’
‘Yes, a little hotel near St. Raphael, Brenda got the name out of a book.’
‘Going up in the world, aren’t we?’
‘Well, it is pricey. But we thought, well, why not be extravagant, while we’re still young enough

to enjoy it.’
‘Enjoy eyeing all those topless birds, you mean.’
‘Is that right? said Harry, with an innocence that was not entirely feigned. Of course he knew in

theory that in certain parts of the Mediterranean girls sunbathed topless on the beach, and he had seen
pictures of the phenomenon in this secretary’s daily newspaper, which he filched regularly for the sake
of such illustrations. But the reality had been a shock. Not so much the promiscuous, anonymous
breastbaring of the beach, as the more intimate and socially complex nudity around the hotel pool.
What made the pool different, and more disturbing was that the women who lay half-naked around its

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Page 4

David Lodge

‘I’ve bought the most darling little dress,’ she announced as she entered the room. ‘Don’t ask
me how much it cost.’

‘Twelve hundred francs?
‘Good God, no. Not as much as that. Seven hundred and fifty, actually. What’s the matter, you

look funny?’
‘We’ve got to leave this hotel.’
He told her what had happened.
‘I shouldn’t worry,’ said his wife. ‘Those little brats probably won’t find any more sheets.’
‘Oh yes they will. They’ll regard it as a challenge, like the Duke of Edinburgh Award. They’ll

comb the pine woods for miles around. And if they find anything, they’re sure to read it.’
‘They wouldn’t understand.’
‘Their parents would. Imagine Mrs. Snooty finding her nipples compared to the nose tips of

small rodents.’
The author’s wife spluttered with laughter. ‘You are a fool,’ she said.
‘It wasn’t my fault,’ he protested. ‘The wind sprang out of nowhere.’
‘An act of God?’
‘Precisely.’
‘Well, I don’t suppose He approved of that story. I can’t say I cared much for it myself. How

was it going to end?’
The author’s wife knew the story pretty well as far as he had got with it, because he had read it

out to her in bed the previous night.
‘Brenda accepts the bribe to go topless.’
‘I don’t think she would.’
‘Well, she does. And Harry is pleased as Punch. He feels that he and Brenda have finally

liberated themselves, joined the sophisticated set. He imagines himself telling the boys back at Barnard
Castings about it, making them ribaldly envious. He gets such a hard-on that he has to lie on his
stomach all day.’

‘Tut, tut!’ said his wife, ‘How crude.’
‘He can’t wait to get to bed that night. But just as they’re retiring, they separate for some reason

I haven’t worked out yet, and Harry goes up to their room first. She doesn’t come at once, so Harry gets
ready for bed, lies down, and falls asleep. He wakes up two hours later and finds Brenda is still
missing. He is alarmed and puts on his dressing gown and slippers to go in search of her. Just at that
moment, she comes in. Where the hell have you been? he says. She has a peculiar look on her face,
goes to the fridge in their room and drinks a bottle of Perrier water before she tells him her story. She
says that Antoine intercepted her downstairs to present her with a bouquet. It seems that each week all
the male staff of the hotel take a vote on which female guest has shapeliest breasts, and Brenda has
come tip of the poll. The bouquet was a mark of their admiration and respect. She is distressed because
she left it behind in Antoine’s room.’

‘Antoine’s room?’
‘Yes, he had coaxed her into seeing his room, a little chalet in the woods, and gave her a drink,

and one thing led to another, and she ended up letting him make love to her.’
‘How improbable.’
‘Not necessarily. Taking off her bra in public released some dormant streak of wantonness in

Brenda that Harry had never seen before. She is rather drunk and quite shameless. She taunts him with
graphic testimony to Antoine’s skill as a lover, and compares Harry’s genital equipment unfavourably
to the Frenchman’s.’

‘Worse and worse,’ said the author’s wife.
‘At that point Harry hits her.’
‘Oh, nice! Very nice.’

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