Friday, 16 November 2007

Cast Iron Constitution


Drink was taken yesterday at the all-new St.Pancras railway station. Ejected from the 'champagne bar' (which looks like the kind of dull cabin favoured by Costa Coffee) for attempting to jump the patient queue that stretched down the platform, (in line for the shock of bubbly at £6 a glass), my friend and I repaired to the slightly queezy-sounding Baby Betjeman Bar. The station itself is astounding, bright Midland brick and Ancaster stone showing off the cast iron buttresses that support the stupendous glass roof, now finished in the sky blue as originally applied in the early 1870s. We needed a few vodkas ('Do you want ice in that?' 'No, you should be keeping it in the freezer') and glasses of fizz to contemplate it all. We liked the Betjeman statue in classic pose looking up at the arch of roof, but had mixed feelings about the nine metre high couple nearly snogging under the clock. I liked her legs but my companion complained bitterly that it was just too Jack Vetriano. There's something in that. Anyway, I scooted off to catch my local train, (thirty four quid for a single ticket to Market Harborough), running past the sleek streamliners humming out to Liege or wherever, to where it's still the same old Midland Misery Line. Pushed out of sight like the branch line it has now become. But do go and see the station, and raise at least one glass up to the roof.

24 comments:

Diplomat said...

The guy eyeing up JB from the front looks remarkably like our pickled gem-dealing friend from the fen, actually I have a picture of him fast asleep in a Scotish hotel bar (grouse shooting) with a piper in full flow not 4 feet from his ear.

Peter Ashley said...

You're right, but the funny thing, and Toby you'll appreciate this, is that the bloke who suddenly hove into the viewfinder as the shutter went off looks remarkably like a mirror image of JB.

Philip Wilkinson said...

The hatted geezer is spooky, it's true. But the Baby Betjeman Bar: what's that about? It conjures up the image of a small but perfectly formed infant Betj, bald and rompered, his beady gaze alternately eyeing up his nurse's starched uniform and the passing Highgate villas from his basinet.

Peter Ashley said...

You keep your fantasies to yourself Philip.

Ron Combo said...

I'm not sure about the couple snogging either. For me it's the sort of work that could grate after a while. And look awfully dated. Anyway Peter, you didn't seem as thrilled as I thought you might have been with the new St Pankers. Were you just a touch disappointed or was it the Stolly kicking in?

Peter Ashley said...

You are so astute Ron.I think it's because I remember this great station from my childhood (tracing the embossed letters with my fingers that say 'Butterley' on the cast iron stanchions) and the feeling that England stretched out in front of you, or behind for that matter.Now its Barcelona or Strasbourg where once it was East Langton or Matlock Bath.

Ron Combo said...

I'm surprised the gay lobby isn't up in arms (or whatever they want to be up in) about this statue; I mean, it's a bit discriminatory, isn't it?

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