Wednesday, November 11, 2015

stations along the way



While there may be some things I can draw a bit better than others I'm not sure architecture is among them. Still, among my favorite memories of living in England are the great railway stations of London. Paddington, King's Cross, St Pancras, Euston, Charing Cross, Victoria,  Liverpool Street, and Waterloo are names and places to remember for their names alone, never mind their grandeur. Sometimes I'd visit them just to enjoy the atmosphere - cavernous sheds, seemingly endless platforms, and always lots of interesting characters. Other times, the best ones, were the days when I had a ticket and a place to visit somewhere along one of the lines.

Here's a story told by Terry Jones about something that happened to Douglas Adams at a large railway station around the time I lived there:

Early for a train, Douglas bought The Guardian, a cup of coffee and a packet of biscuits, and sat down at a table, putting the folded newspaper down so he could do the crossword. The packet of biscuits was in the middle of the table.

There was another man already sitting at the table and this man now leant calmly across, tore open the packet of biscuits and ate one. Douglas said he went into a sort of state of shock, but — determined not to show any reaction — he equally calmly leant forward and took the second biscuit. A few minutes later, the man took the third and ate it. Douglas then took the fourth and tried his best not to glare at the man.

The man then stood up and wandered off as if nothing had happened, at which point Douglas’s train was announced. So he hurriedly finished his coffee and picked up his belongings, only to find his packet of biscuits under the newspaper.


Somehow, I can't imagine that happening at an airport.. or maybe not anywhere now.

22 comments:

Tom said...

A delightful story; one with more than an intimation of the stiff upper lip. I wonder how long ago this drawing is about. I cannot remember when the UK rid itself of third class carriages.

Andrew R. Scott said...

Due to her contact with Crow, Tom, Susan has the ability to see and feel a mixture of many different eras all at once.

susan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Tom. We once met Douglas Adams - a very droll character and one quite capable of inventing this story for his own purpose. I thought they never got rid of third class carriages - they're all I ever ride.

susan said...

That's quite true, Andrew, which is likely why Crow still prefers biplanes when his wings tire.

marja-leena said...

I remember some of those fabulous train stations from our trip to the UK a few years ago, also the one in Paris, and a few other European cities over the years. Your wonderful drawing captures that majesty and excitement.

Love the story - made me chuckle out loud in surprise!

Tom said...

That may well be why Susan's posts are a never-ending delight.

Halle said...

Your drawing takes me back to our one visit to Britain seven years ago. The train we took from Reading pulled into Paddington and from that moment my head must have looked as though it was on a turntable.
As Tom says, a delightful story that could come straight out of one of Adams' books.

clairesgarden said...

I used to travel by train as a young child, alone. I can't imagine that happening now. Edinburgh to Morpeth.

susan said...

What really struck me about London was the number of large railway stations compared to other cities. It's apparent there was some train mania going on during the Victorian era - the results of which we get to enjoy now.

I had the same reaction to the story :)

susan said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed seeing it, Halle. The railway stations in London are quite overwhelming. Something similar happened to me when I first rode the Tube from a suburban station to a central location and had to ride several very long escalators to street level. It felt like I was a mile underground.

susan said...

I never traveled alone as a child but it's still a shame that it couldn't be done now. Children should always be safe.

Gary said...

I love trains of any sort. When in Brooklyn recently (Zoey lives there now), I spent an afternoon in the NY Transit Museum - located in an abandoned 1940's subway station. Cars and trains from the beginning of 1900 till now. Flights of fancy, every one. Your work is wonderful Susan. I must visit more...

Sean Jeating said...

Ahh, London's railway-stations, and those of the Tube. What an adventure for an eleven year old boy. Sometimes, I do have the feeling that I can still smell some scents of these days. The parks, the museums, rowing on the Serpentine, a match at Stamford Bridge, theatre, cinema, Wimpy Bars, playing football in Hyde Park.
Uff, must stop. Deadline getting awfully close.
Did I mention your drawing once again let the corners of my mouth start an expedition to the ear lobes?

susan said...

Yes, I believe that North America missed the boat by focusing on highways rather than expanded rail lines. It could be done still but I doubt there's the will.

I'm glad to see you've been by to visit, Gary, and that you had a good visit to NYC. Zoey's in Brooklyn, eh? I'm sure there's a story about that transition.

susan said...

The idea of little Sean running around London on his own makes me smile too :) Of course it was a far safer city back then than it's likely to be now - even though it probably smells better.

Good luck with your deadline. I'm happy the picture pleased you. I'll see if I can o that again soon.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
A delightful extract to go with your lovely picture and its superb architecture – just as I would have imagined it then. It reminds me of all of those illustrations in books as a youngster that spurred me on to want to read the story with such added excitement, trying to imagine what was to unfold. !!
I could not imagine that happening today!!
Best wishes

susan said...

Thanks for the fine compliment, Lindsay. As i remember a lot of those stories had illustrations that were just detailed enough to allow our imaginations to fill in the rest. Nowadays nothing is left to our imaginations and that's a great pity.
All the best

Sean Jeating said...

Well, I was not discovering London on my own. My then 22-year-old brother showed me around on my first visit. We stayed with a generous friend of our family.
Luck is what I need. And as we use to say "flinke Flossen". Thank you. :)

susan said...

I'm sure you were a precocious child but I'm relieved to know you had a guardian to accompany you on that delicious adventure. Truth to tell, I'm not sure in retrospect that I was mature enough at the time either. Ah well, having survived my youthful follies proves something. :)

Nearly done now?

Sean Jeating said...

Nah, way to go.
I let you know when it's done.

Should Fish More said...

A few years ago I travelled by rail from Manchester to Paddington station, and was entertained by the phone conversation of my seating companion, who was apparently considereing the idea of becoming a 'lady of the night', and going over the pros and cons with a friend on the phone.
Very nice drawing.

susan said...

I bet that took your attention away from the book you were reading. :)

Thanks for the compliment.