Freda Mansfield (an American, age 38) is checking out of a London hotel;
she is planning on eloping with her British lover George Frobisher
(age 43, who already has a wife, Monica, and kids) and they are going to New York City together.
Roald Dahl - Host
Sumner Elliot - Writer
Daniel Petrie - Director
Cast - Constance Ford as Freda Mansfield, Neil Fitzgerald as Doctor, Anthony Dawson as George Frobisher,
Angela Thornton as Rose Thorn, George Turner as Mr. Burnly, Jean Cameron as Phone Operator
Ah, infidelity! The cinetrix is seizing this tenuous segue to direct your attention to Geoff Dyer's amazing piece "Sleeping Under Four Stars," which appears in his new collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition [via Maudie]:
The luxury hotel is a quintessential example of what the French theorist Marc Augé calls the 'non-place' of super-modernity. In The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe pointed out that the defining architectural feature of the motel — namely that you don't "have to go through a public lobby to get to your room" — played a major part in the "rather primly named 'sexual revolution.'" In international hotels, however, the passage through the lobby is also a passage from place to non-place. By checking in and handing over your credit card or passport you effectively surrender your identity. By becoming a temporary resident of this non-place you become a non-person and are granted an ethical equivalent of diplomatic immunity.
You are no longer Mr. or Ms. Whoever, you are simply the occupant of a room. You become morally weightless. You have no history. The act of the porter carrying your stuff up to your room means that you are, as they say, not carrying any baggage. As a result (I am basing this claim on zero medical evidence) men are less liable to be impotent in a hotel than in any other environment. You are free. If a man goes to a motel with his mistress he cheats on his wife. In a luxury hotel, on the other hand, there is no moral liability, only financial.
The recently-opened Saint Martins Lane, smack in the heart of London's Covent Garden, is an exemplary luxury hotel in every regard. It is extremely, ludicrously expensive. It is also so utterly anonymous that at first you can't see the room numbers, which are to be found not on the door but on the carpet. The rooms are white, the sheets are white (though lights over the bed can be adjusted to impart a discreet purple, yellow or greenish glow to the whiteness), the walls are white, the towels are white. Everything is so white it's like it has been designed as a camouflage for cocaine, that other component of the sex-hotel-money nodality. If certain styles of architecture — courts and police stations, most obviously — are inherently judgmental, this is a style of interior design that acknowledges no moral currency other than American Express. It goes without saying that the rooms are completely soul-less.
Prose that good makes me want a cigarette.