August 05, 2008

'teshuns I have known

My favourite rail station in Londinium is Charing Cross. Reason: The train (the 3:43 fast to Dartford) pulls out of the station straight onta a bridge. The views: On one side- Westminster, the London Eye and Not-so-much-Big-as-Tall Ben. On the other side- St. Paul's, the Gherkin, the Tate Modern power station, and the Embankment. All this through the latticework of rusty girders. Perfect.

In literary terms, Victoria carries the palm. This explains why:
Jack.  [Very seriously.]  Yes, Lady Bracknell.
I was in a hand-bag--a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag,
with handles to it --an ordinary hand-bag in fact.

Lady Bracknell. In what locality did this Mr. James,
or Thomas, Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag?

Jack. In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. It was given
to him in mistake for his own.

Lady Bracknell. The cloak-room at Victoria Station?

Jack. Yes. The Brighton line.

Another special 'teshun is Paddington. Only because of the Bear with the battered hat and the marmalade habit who arrived there from Darkest Peru.

And Waterloo is beloved simply because the town by that name in Wallonia is pronounced in the Netherlands as Vaaderloo. Sounds very desi, somehow.

And then of course there's St. Pancras. While it sounds like the kind of place you go to have your intestines rummaged, it's actually a shiny new international train station. Airline-like procedures are followed, but at 10 times the speed. And there's the statue that sends you off to Bruxelles Midi, Gare du Nord Paris and other points continental. From a distance, it looks like a regular farewell. Click on the picture to enlarge it, and suddenly it looks a little less romantic. The woman looks like a man, and the man looks like a Vulcan, minus pointy pinnae.

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