Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Saintly St Pancras


A little while ago I expressed a fear that Christmas, that deeply spiritual time of year, the second most significant entry in the Christian calendar, might perhaps be in danger of falling prey to creeping commercialism. 

Now I may be alone in feeling that disquiet, but I have to admit that I can’t entirely shake it off, that it remains forever a nagging concern at the back of my mind.

I expressed that anxiety in connection with the appearance of a Lego Christmas tree inside the main hall of St Pancras station. It was curious therefore that my attention was caught this morning by a sign in the same station that referred to that tree. Based on the carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, it gave twelve reasons for being in St Pancras:

Capturing the spirit of Christmas
One Giant Lego Tree
Two Lovers Meeting
Three Styles of Mo√ęt & Chandon
Four Sourced Hampers
Five Sporting rings
Six Tube lines stopping
Seven minutes to Westfield
Eight Monsoon scarves
Nine tales from Foyles
Ten Hamleys teddies
Eleven Neuhaus Truffles
Twelve Cath Kidston Crackers

Interestingly, fully three of these involve no logo and advertise no brand (just in case you  were wondering, the ‘two lovers meeting’ is about the rather splendid statue just inside the main entrance on the upper level – take a look, it’s great, especially the reliefs round the plinth – while the ‘five sporting rings’ are the Olympic rings up for the 2012 games, so really a bit more advertising, and the ‘six tube lines stopping’ – well, that’s six lines stopping).
Funnily enough, I don’t fully understand the need to give reasons to visit St Pancras. I mean, it’s a splendid station and all that, as stations go, but surely the only reason for going to a station is to go somewhere else, isn’t it?
That’s rather implied by the entry for ‘seven’, come to think of it. I love the idea that one of the reasons to go to St Pancras is that it’s seven minutes away from somewhere else, as it happens a major shopping centre. ‘Come here, it’s a bit of a hike to somewhere else’.  Not the most compelling advertising, wouldn’t you agree?

Perhaps if that’s the standard of commercialism, there’s hope for Christmas yet.

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