Walking into the hotel was like going backwards in time. The wood panelling, the cubist picture on the wall, the brown leather sofas. All perfect. All preserved like an ancient fly in amber. Here, the 1970’s were still alive. Little consideration was given to the peculiarities of our present age.

We had not expected to stay here. We were in this hotel because our car was undergoing emergency surgery. While driving through the Palatinate forests east of Pirmasens, we heard a bang from the engine. A battery light appeared on the dashboard and I lost power steering. We ended up in a petrol station waiting for the German AA man to arrive. He quickly diagnosed the problem. The alternator V-belt had broken. This was not something he would be able to fix by the side of the road. A trip to the garage was called for. The repair would be neither fast nor cheap. Our plans had changed.

An elderly man was waiting for us when we went downstairs for breakfast the following morning. He was dressed in an impeccable but dated waiter’s outfit. He reminded me of the butler in that perennial German favourite “Dinner for One”. The lady of the hotel, presumably the architect of this situation, was of a similar vintage. She wore a bright orange dress with her hair tied up in a beehive. Clearly, she was a beauty to behold in former years. As we were coming downstairs to check out, we could hear her tapping away at an old typewriter. I wondered to myself what had happened to cause her clock to freeze in time some forty years ago.