I’ve unofficially started my travelling.
Granted, I haven’t got very far, but what better place to start my exploration of the world than on my own doorstep?
After a leisurely cycle ride (followed by much panting and intake of instant calories), I find myself sat in a surprisingly quiet corner of one of the busier stations in one of the busier cities on a Saturday afternoon. Next to me stands “The Meeting Place”, a 30-foot high, 20-tonne bronze statue depicting a couple locked in a (presumably amorous) embrace.
The artwork is intended to symbolise the romance of travel – or possibly her reminding him at the last minute to remember to feed the cat – and yet the feeling I get whilst underneath it is not romance, but the epitome of the many juxtapositions of modern-day London.
Here is a sizeable structure in the middle of a very commonly used station, but as the Londonites scurry around on the ground floor in A-B mode, giving passive-aggressive looks to anyone who slows them down by more than a millisecond, this serene, calming feature stands still on the floor above, being noticed only by the people dining outside one of the restaurants, and the “must see absolutely everything” group of Chinese tourists currently taking far too many selfies standing next to it. One can’t help but feel that if people appreciated their surroundings more and weren’t so transfixed on their destination, they would open their eyes to so much more that this wonderful city has to offer – something I know I’ve been guilty of many many times in the past.
Noticeable, too, is how old the statue looks, especially compared to the more modern surroundings of the recently renovated (2007) St Pancras station. A symbol of the old and the new, trying desperately to coexist in this vast-yet-cramped city, with varying degrees of success. In this case, despite it only being nine years old, it’s aged look underneath the giant clock only adds to the calming influence it imbues upon its passers-by.
Anyway, that’s enough of me rambling for now, or there’s a very real chance I might say something slightly romantic. Besides, I’ve just about got my breath back now, so it’s time to cycle home.