Mr Lush stares at his reflection in the looking glass and sees only white. He is reminded of the cheese shop Mord & Maison. However, he is not entirely sure whether it is the colour of a Stilton or rather that of a Welsh Cheddar. As it is currently holiday season, and one is invited to the Reform Club tonight – membership is a benefit from his Eton days, but that is another (rather long) story all together – Mr Lush is left with no choice but to visit the local tanning salon and to make up some tales from his time sunbathing on the French Riviera or perhaps even on safari! He feels ashamed of the whole event. Until now, he had always been able to stay with a friend in Sussex in order to preserve the appearance. However, somewhat tragically, his friend has fallen deaf and dumb – although, admittedly, only in correspondence with Mr Lush.
Mr Lush dresses unobtrusively in the style of old money (working for private bank Kouttz, perhaps) – the perfect disguise in London – and walks with Olivier the ocelot (whom he has told to always keep 100 feet behind him) to the tanning studio. Olivier reacts with a knowing smile to both dress and request, and whispers gently:
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women just players.
… but, my God, what kind of pitiful being you must be? Always on stage – even if you would rather not be or if no one is even… for theatre, you need spectators, ideally applause.
Visibly distressed, Mr Lush replies: Let us not discuss this any further, and let us go.
After a short, contemplative stroll to the salon (Mr Lush is now convinced that it must be the Philippines, most likely Mindoro. No one from the club will have been this year.), he is greeted by an overly enthusiastic employee: Cabin eleven, please. Your skin should be well-done after only ten minutes.
Am I required to take everything off?, asks Mr Lush after holding the door for his ocelot companion and kindly asking him to take a seat in the chair next to the cabin.
Yes, show off your true size and take off your pants, answers the Madame with a wink.
As Her Majesty wishes, he replies drily, laughing a little as he removes his braces (AE: suspenders). Lying down, he puts on the whimsical goggles. Olivier remarks that his friend reminds him of Patrick Bateman, just as Mr Lush turns the facial tanner to the highest setting and the classical music to medium volume. Philip Glass’ Metamorphosis One seemingly re-interpreted by a mentally disturbed monkey on Ritalin. Regardless, Mr Lush quickly drifts off and dreams of free cigarettes and his Liverpudlian Madame from the red-light district. The only disturbance is the rather violent sound of timpani rising to a crescendo before finally fading out entirely. Suddenly, Mr Lush feels someone shaking his shoulder. Opening confused eyes (still covered by the small goggles), he encounters the same winking employee from before:
You have already been on here for 25 minutes and these beds do not switch off automatically. I’ve been knocking like crazy… Finally, I had to unlock the door. The next customer is already waiting!
Mr Lush covers his John Thomas with both hands (although one hand would have been more than sufficient) and screams: I will be ready in a minute! Please leave! He has already identified the next sun bather in the queue: none other than Sir Roderick Todger, the chairman of the Reform Club. Could it get any worse? Mr Lush’s eyes are drawn to his reflection in the mirror: a giant sunburn has spread across his entire body, the perfect complement to his red face. He crams himself into his suit, greets the chairman with a short nod and a polite Good Afternoon, grabs Olivier (who is barely able to contain his glee [ocelots are known for their schadenfreude]), places the money on the counter, and leaves the salon.
Just as Mr Lush begins to suspect that his sunburn cannot possibly look as bad as he thinks it does, Olivier turns to him and remarks: I’m feeling a bit peckish. Let us go to Mord & Maison. Perhaps they have some Babybel. DC/MM