Monday, 27 August 2007

Cross purposes

In the frequent traveller lounge at Gare du Nord the powers that be have decided to show a video bugling the joys of the new facilities at St Pancras International.

After collecting the usual haul of British and French newspapers and magazines, I became so engrossed in the delights awaiting me in London from November 14 that I had to be prompted to get out of the comfy chair and get on train 9063.

The taster of marvels to come told me that L’Angleterre et la France se rapproche. I thought they did that in the Entente Cordiale back in the early 20th century.

But no I’m being fascetious. And very wrong. Now they’re doing it physically. Come the wonderland it will take only two hours and 15 minutes to whisk me (and many hundreds) to London.

But when I read: "Eurostar vous invite ├á New London," I got worried. I suppose I’m a victim of the Conservative smear campaign from a few years back that said New Labour, New Danger.

New London, New Prices?

All this glass, chrome and squeaky cleanliness must come at a cost. I’m going to wait to see what happens there because my thoughts are turning to Waterloo.

Not the Abba song, which I was merrily listening to on the coach ride into Stockholm from the airport 10 days or so ago but the terminus that I used to think was central London.

No. The video now tells me that St Pancras/Kings Cross is the new heart of the city. I know I’ve been more of a Parisian than a Londoner these past seven years but when did Kings Cross become a heart throb?

Honestly what guff. I can just imagine it. “Meet you in the centre of town,” says A. B replies: “I can get to Leicester Square at around 8ish.”

“No," says A. “I mean Kings Cross.”

I don’t ever see that conversation happening. Just don’t. But I shall take a straw poll over the weekend to evaluate.

I didn’t mean for the 9063 to become an ontological inquisition. But how does such change occur? And who in the Eurostar marketing team thinks that savvy travellers are going to suddenly believe that Kings Cross is the centre?

I know the Guardian is moving to Kings Cross next year but as far as I’ve heard that’s not to be in the centre, just a good deal on a building as lovely old 119 Farringdon Road is just getting to creaky for the ├╝berbrand.

And if Kings Cross is the centre, does this mean I can apply for compensation for being dumped in the suburbs all these years?

I for one will keep singing the praises of Waterloo. It was where my twin city lifestyle started.

On a cultural level it’s been ideal as it’s so close to the Hayward Gallery or Tate Modern where I’ve been to browse on many an occasion before going into the Guardian on Sunday.

But this is no time to mope about old happiness. I must embrace the modern world.

And if Eurostar executives say a couple of miles north is the new centre, then I guess I, like the station, am – to cite a certain song – finally facing my Waterloo.