Wednesday, 29 January 2014

When a station is more than a place to catch a train

"Railway stations have always attracted me, not just because trains are there, but because they are also ambivalent places, echoing with completed journeys and still with the melancholy noises of departures."
Eric Lomax/The Railway Man

"There is something illusionistic and illusionary about the relationship of time and space as we experience it in travelling."
W.G. Sebald/Austerlitz

Austerlitz/W G Sebald: opening scenes are at Antwerp station, designed by Delacenserie
"...which was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, in such stupendous fashion that even today, said Austerlitz, exactly as the architect intended, when we step into the entrance hall we are seized by a sense of being beyond the profane, in a cathedral consecrated to international traffic and trade. Delacenserie borrowed the main elements of his monumental structure from the palaces of the Italian Renaissance, but he also struck Byzantine and Moorish notes, and perhaps when I arrived, said Austerlitz, I myself had noticed the round grey and white granite turrets, the sole purpose of which was to arouse medieval associations in the minds of railway passengers. was also appropriate, he continued, that in Antwerp Station the elevated level from which the gods looked down on visitors to the Roman Pantheon should display, in hierarchical order, the deities of the nineteenth century - mining, industry, transport, trade and capital."

There are stone escutcheons with sheaves of corn, crossed hammers, winged wheels - a beehive - and a huge clock surveying all.
Antwerp Station

The clock dominates in Milan Centrale too: also signs of industry: a temple built at the height of the Fascist era.
The clock at Waterloo: a good meeting place.

Reading and watching

  • Foot by Foot to Santiago de Compostela/Judy Foot
  • The Testament of Mary with Fiona Shaw at the Barbican
  • The Testament of Mary/Colm Toibin
  • Schwanengesang/Schubert - Tony Spence
  • Journals/Robert Falcon Scott
  • Fugitive Pieces/Ann Michaels
  • Unless/Carol Shields
  • Faust/Royal Opera House
  • The Art of Travel/Alain de Botton
  • Mad Men Series 6
  • A Week at The Airport/Alain de Botton
  • The Railway Man/Eric Lomax
  • Bright Lights, Big City/Jay McInerney
  • Stones of Venice/John Ruskin
  • The Sea, the Sea/Iris Murdoch
  • Childe Harold/Lord Byron
  • All The Pretty Horses/Cormac McCarthy
  • Extreme Rambling/Mark Thomas
  • Story of my Life/Jay McInerney
  • Venice Observed/Mary McCarthy