Robert Pimm

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Hotel Stories: “Gents” (Excerpt)

The following is an excerpt from the third of the “Hotel Stories” series, “Gents”.  The Hotel Stories series takes a wry look at the sex, humour and power plays beneath the surface of modern hotel life.  The series has been described by one reviewer as “Wonderful, feminist and dark.  Not three words that often go together.”

If you like this excerpt, you can buy the Hotel Stories on Amazon.  Enjoy.

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Gents (Excerpt)

A short story by Robert Pimm

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The first person I see enter the lobby is loaded with shopping bags from a major international clothing brand.

I will not name the brand because I do not like to promote these kind of clothes. But it is a brand like a masculine man’s name. So I am guessing that the man carrying the bags is hoping that wearing these clothes will make him more of a man than he is perhaps feeling inside.

‘Mr Anderson. Welcome to our hotel.’ I smile my thousand-watt smile. ‘Good choice.’

‘Hey. Tatiana. You’re using the script’ The man slides his passport across the counter and peers at my name badge. ‘Are you Russian?’

I maintain my thousand-watt smile and pick up the telephone, which our brand standards say must be answered within three rings. A Mr Miller in Suite 1295 says he wishes to complain that his shower is not working. I promise that Housekeeping will come shortly. Across the lobby I see a group of men whose uniform of dark trousers and blue smart-but-casual shirts, and the noises they are making, remind me of a party of schoolchildren. They are heading for our signature EcoSystem Lounge Bar.

The man with the shopping bags is right that our hotel chain’s core script for reception staff includes the words Welcome to our hotel and Good choice. But the guidance notes which accompany the script also tell us that The customer is a human being and that we should use originality, humour, respect and the personal touch in our exchanges. So I add: ‘No, sir, I am Ukrainian. You know. We leave the West behind.’

This is actually not the first time I am using this joke. (more…)


Coming up soon… a new hotel story: Gents

I have terrific news for all you lovers of the ‘wonderful, feminist and dark’ hotel story series: the third episode will be out soon.  You’ve seen hotelier extraordinaire Ms N and her faithful colleague Tatiana solve intractable problems at a Michelin-starred luxury hotel in Eastern Europe in The Two Rooms; and at a shitbox (“I am sorry to use this kind of vocabulary, but in the hotel industry this is the correct professional term”) somewhere in the back of beyond in The White Blouse.  But what will happen when Tatiana and Ms N coincide at a convention in Florida where nearly all the other delegates are men? Will the pushiest, smuggest and most arrogant alpha male in Ms N’s hotel chain get the job she has set her heart on?  Or can Ms N and Tatiana cook something up?

Read Gents, coming soon to this space, and find out how Ms N, the world’s most brilliant hotelier, solves the hardest problems on earth in her own extraordinary yet subtle way – always with the help of Tatiana.


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Behind every great woman…

By Robert Pimm

Financial Times, August 1 2003

Make a list of some of the husbands of famous and successful women. Guy Ritchie. Prince Philip. Gordon Roddick. Sam Mendes. Bill Clinton. The late Denis Thatcher.

Should we feel sorry for them?

Surely not. All are or were high-achieving alpha-males, loaded with power or wealth or both. Suitable objects for envy, rather than pity.

So why did Denis Thatcher once describe himself as the most “shadowy husband of all time”?

With my children cooking cakes in 2003 (c) Stefan Boness/Ipon,

Roles apart

The idea that there’s something awkward, quaint or just plain weird about a man who’s not the dominant partner in a marriage is surprisingly tenacious. Former Foreign Secretary Lord Owen described Sir Denis’s role as consort to prime minister Margaret Thatcher as “a selfless, difficult role for a man”. It’s an adage in Hollywood that celebrity marriages only work when the husband is more famous than the wife.


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