The most pointless Instagrams of St Pancras

The most pointless Instagrams of St Pancras

As you know, St Pancras holds a special place in my heart because it is my commuter station. Which also happens to house the Eurostar, a champagne bar, designer shops, a piano and art installations. What does this mean? Photos Instagrammed to within an inch of their lives. Enjoy.

  1. Nothing like a bit of #hashtag #overload…
  2. Omg! St Pancras has a roof! Who would have thought it?
  3. Oh, look. People who have time to hang about. With suitcases. Bastards.
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Six reasons why St Pancras sucks if you’re a commuter

I know, I know. St Pancras International Station is a marvel. It combines beauty with functionality and upmarket chain stores. John Betjeman loved it. It makes the Daily Mail proud to be British. It manages to be cool and establishment all at the same time.

As I hail from the sunny climes of Luton town, it also happens to be my commuter station. And, just sometimes, I wish it was a bit more, you know, normal. Restful shades of mud brown; just one escalator to get to the surface. They’re simple desires, but not ones that are likely to be fulfilled. And that’s why if you commute, St Pancras is less ‘breathtaking’ and more something to be endured…

  1. It’s a Eurostar terminal, so there are endless gaggles of tourists, suitcases to trip over and romantic couples swooning on their way to Paris. When all you’ve got to look forward to is 40 minutes jammed under a predatory male’s sweaty armpit and a lasagna for one.

    Via stpancras.com

    Photo: stpancras.com

  2. Similarly, St Pancras has posh shops and a champagne bar that you have to walk past to get from the tube station to the National Rail platforms, meaning you have to dash past shiny glass shop fronts full of beautiful things you will never be able to afford. And, let’s face it, you never get to St Pancras early enough to shop there.
  3. The main concourse is ginormous, with people heading in all different directions like sheep on LSD. The result? Clashes worthy of Formula 1.

    Photo: guardian.co.uk

    Photo: guardian.co.uk

  4. Endless Instagramming of ‘gorgeous’, ‘stunning’, etc., etc., St Pancras. As if three million people hadn’t noticed it before that – gasp – the station has a roof.St Pancras roof
  5. Epic strolls to the Tube worthy of the London Marathon. It’s so long you suspect that St Pancras is colluding in secret government plans to make all commuters walk halfway to their destinations before allowing them on public transport.

    Photo: geograph.org.uk

    Photo: geograph.org.uk

  6. The pianos on the main concourse. Well, the last thing you need after a stressful day at the office is a tourist tipsy on overpriced champagne attempting to bash out Chopsticks for the twelfth time. If one of those pianos could speak, it would surely moan, “Did any of you get past grade 2 piano?” 

All Stations Are Equal. But Some Are More Equal Than Others.

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London Locomotion doesn’t often spout favouritism…but sometimes needs be.

Sometimes there’s a tube station that simply stands out from the rest like a long-awaited beacon of loco-mania. It relieves us from the discomfort, stress and tedium of 9 to 5 life and – as if by magic – commuting transforms! Light and easy, we’re back in the utero-hub from whence we came. And it’s glorious.

At times like these, credit is surely due. So spread your wings and take a magnificent bow, O hallowed Angel.

Never before has a tube station been so aptly named (maybe Cockfosters.) Yet on first impressions, it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Two platforms and two escalators form its functionality, while an ever-long ticket queue ensures the familiar. But look closer and you’ll see something special.  For a white board stands in front of you, inscribed with a message of hope and humour. So effective and celebrated it is, you would think it were written by He above Himself (or close enough: the acclaim actually goes to staff workers Ken Waters, 53 and Rathees Kadacham, 30.)

We are, of course, talking about Angel’s Thought Of The Day.

Now with its own website Thoughts of Angel, the much revered words of Angel are finally available to the masses. So in honour of our favourite station and its wonderful words of wisdom (and avoidance of excessive alliteration – so tacky), we share with you some of its very best sentiments. And we urge you to adapt your commute and take a fly by Angel. For it is good.

“Five things i hate about laziness. 1.”

“You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen. It said ‘Parking Fine'”

“Those who can laugh without case have either found the true meaning of happiness, or have gone stark raving mad”

“The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that they have never tried to contact us”

 And the oh-so-tube-appropriate:

“There is no such thing as delays. Just an opportunity to linger longer!”

Follow @ThoughtsofAngel for more

The Great Unsung Heroes of the London Underground

The 150th anniversary of the Tube has been heralded with artwork, steam trains, and special Oyster cards. All wonderful things, but they ignore the obvious: the London Underground would never be the institution that it is without people. And my celebration of 150 years of the network that carries me to work each day is a tribute to the faces behind those tunnels, roundels and murals. Happy birthday, tube.

Frank Pick

Source: distortedarts.com

Source: distortedarts.com

Frank Pick is proof that even if you have an office job, you can change the world. Head of the London Underground in the 1910s and 20s, and of London Transport in the 30s, Frank commissioned pretty much everything we hold dear about the underground, from the red and blue roundels to Man Ray’s iconic poster of a planet next to an underground roundel. He also hired Edward Johnston (see below) to create the distinctive font seen on maps, signs and stations.

Frank wasn’t just about making the stations look pretty though – he pushed for expanding the network into the suburbs, spearheaded the effort to get tourists using the tube, and even insisted that upholstery for the train seats was specially made. When you ride all the way from Amersham to Baker Street, you can thank Frank.

Edward Johnston

Source: ejf.org.uk

Source: ejf.org.uk

The clear, bold, but incredibly pleasing lettering that you encounter all over the London Underground was originally designed in 1913 by Edward Johnston , also known at the father of modern calligraphy.  It is characterised by its perfectly round ‘o’ and square tittles (stop sniggering – it’s the dots on top of ‘i’s and ‘j’s).

The font was redesigned in the 1980s, but still remembers Ed with its name: ‘new Johnston‘.

His influence continues with the Edward Johnston Foundation, a research centre for calligraphy and lettering arts.

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What goes down must come up: the five best London Underground escalators

Image: londonist.com

Image: londonist.com

If you think about it, the escalators on the Underground embody much of what it is great about being British. They are a product of Industrial-era engineering; we adopted them from America; they are a shrine to queuing and etiquette (there is a special kind of hell for people who stand on the left); and, although we don’t have fancy spiral ones like in Las Vegas, or even the longest ones, our affection for our escalators is boundless. Here are the five escalators who should earn our love:

1. Greenford

via Wikimedia commons

via Wikimedia commons

When all the other wooden escalators on the London Underground were scrapped in the wake of the King’s Cross fire in 1987, this wooden mover and shaker stood firm. One of the few escalators to take passengers up to the platform, it also takes the accolade of being the oldest escalator on the network, at one hundred years old. Plus, the grooves are big enough that your stiletto won’t get caught in a step. Who says technology always gets better?

2. Angel

This escalator is the third longest in Western Europe (only Stockholm and Helsinki can beat it), and my aching thighs can personally attest that it feels like it. It has a vertical rise of 27m (90ft) and is 60m (197m) in length, and are so steep that when you stand at the top you can’t see the bottom. Eat your heart out, Alton Towers.

But despite its proud standing as the longest escalator on the London Underground, it’s not the longest in the UK – that would go to the wooden escalator in the Tyne cyclist and pedestrian tunnel (though only by a paltry metre). Don’t worry, Angel escalator; as many men who will ride you will tell you: size isn’t everything. We still love you.

3. St John’s Wood

stjohnswood

Abbey Road’s zebra crossing isn’t the only illustrious pedestrian feature you will encounter at St John’s Wood. The Grade II-listed building, built in 1939, features on its escalators the original 58 bronze uplighters and illuminated bronze-edged roundel. These features are incredibly rare – only three sets of uplighters and two roundels survive. If you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself in an age of Art Deco, pre-Oyster card elegance.

Source: flickr.com

Source: flickr.com

Also, fun fact: St John’s Wood is the only tube station without any letters of the word ‘mackerel’ in it. Go on, check…

4. Charing Cross

via wikimedia commons

via wikimedia commons

There are many stations on the Underground rightfully lauded for their quirky design and atmosphere: Charing Cross is not one of them. But this massive round mirror on the escalator (I’m guessing the designers installed it to confuse tourists not paying attention) adds a touch of industrial-sized quirkiness to the otherwise forgettable station. And you can check your hair in it. Surely one of the best combinations of utility and beauty on the network?

5. Canary Wharf

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

James Bond; Danny Boyle; cathedral-like – yes, we get it. Canary Wharf is bloody spectacular. It’s deeper than a six-storey house and wider than two football pitches. And that glass roof, designed by Norman Foster, which you glide towards when travelling up the escalator, is the best part of all. The urge to crank up the Beyonce and do a little shimmy-swagger when you get to the top is overwhelming.

Listen out for: “experts are agreed that the London Underground is the largest underground system in all of London”. Glad to see the experts are working hard.

Remember, remember…no gunpowder on the Tube

Guy Fawkes and his fellow plotters were going to hide their gunpowder in tunnels beneath Parliament. Then they were going to write their names with a sparkler and eat sausages.

Since then the authorities have been wary of pyrotechnics on the Underground. We’ve just been on the phone with TFL and National Rail to confirm that no fireworks can be brought on public transport. This includes trains, buses, the Tube and the Overground.

TFL say a small pack of sparklers is probably OK, but nothing with the word ‘Mega’ or ‘Apocalypse’ on the side of the box. You can still cram your face with marshmallows, but no toasting them on the Circle line.

So if it’s your job to bring the artillery to the Bonfire, it’s best to drive or get a cab. Or you can simply dazzle guests with your wit.