“It is not linen you’re wearing out, But human creatures’ lives!”*

*Thomas Hood, in “The Song of the Shirt” (1843)

Andrew Kendall writes on the Film Experience website:

“Mrs. Wilson’s confession of the murder of caddish Sir William McCordle is a fine example of a movie confession existing as monologue. What’s particularly fantastic about this scene in Gosford Park is that technically it is really just a scene of exposition at the end of a mystery, one which is necessary for the plot but might not appear to be essential to the film’s nature…

Mary Maceachran (Kelly Macdonald), Lady’s maid to the domineering Countess Trentham (Maggie Smith), is the de facto sleuth of the film, piecing together the clues. She arrives in Mrs. Wilson’s chambers not to gloat but to ask…why.”:

Mrs Wilson– Come in.

MaryYou’re busy.

Mrs Wilson– No, no, I was just checking the linen rotation. If I’d have left it to the maids, the same twenty sheets would be used till they fell into rags.

From: Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class (2018), by Luke Barr:

“Marie (wife of Cesar Ritz) was an aficionado of fabrics – “I have always had a passion for linen,” she told (Charles) Mewes, laughing. Growing up in a hotel, she had been taught by her mother, for example, that “linen needs repose”: it should be stored in a warm place between launderings, so that the fibres could “relax.” For this reason, there needed to be four sets of sheets for every bed at the hotel. She took her husband shopping at Rouff’s and the Grand Maison de Blanc, both in Paris…

…In the restaurant dining room, for example, Ritz had solved the problem of handbags…Again, a tiny detail, a solution to a problem no one had ever even put into words, but one that Ritz, in his obsessive way, had noted and now acted upon. It had always been his philosophy (repeatedly explained to all his employees) to anticipate a guest’s wishes before the guest did. Now, as he was designing his own hotel, that carefully intuitive sort of thinking informed every decision.”

Later in her monologue, Mrs Wilson asks Mary:

-What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others? It’s the gift of anticipation. And I’m a good servant. I’m better than good. I’m the best. I’m the perfect servant. I know when they’ll be hungry and the food is ready. I know when they’ll be tired and the bed is turned down. I know it before they know it themselves.

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