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St. Pancras Station, Part 1. The pianos.

My small hotel in London is close to St. Pancras Station, which, together with King’s Cross Station, organizes certain trains, underground lines, and the Eurostar. Not St. Pancreas. If it were St. Pancreas, I might cross Euston Street everyday, bouquet in hand, to seek release from diabetes.

IMG_1434But Pancras himself was a Roman who converted to Christianity and was beheaded at age 14, around 304. His Greek name means “the one who holds everything.” A very special item St. Pancras Station holds is pianos.

Two upright pianos are stationed just outside the Eurostar arrivals door. When the Eurostar arrives in London from the Chunnel, thousands of travelers pour out into the large hall (lined with The Body Shop and other English franchises). where there are the usual shouts, hugs, tears, and flowers dropping to the ground as arms are thrown around beloveds.

I’m not sure if you have to audition to play these pianos (and then are given a code or something), or if just the very brave and fairly talented even have the nerve to sit at the bench, but each of the five players I heard seemed confidently accomplished and rhythmic, and the crowd seemed calm and focussed on the live music.

I don’t know if the pianists are required to start and end everything in minor keys, but keyboard melancholy reliably wafted through the halls every time I wandered through, likely matching the moods of those arriving and those waiting to depart. I found myself seeking out the Eurostar arrival pianos every time I rode the Victoria line.

IMG_1435The music was certainly apropos for my own A-through-G-minor feelings on this particular trip to London, this particular being away from home, the pianos providing the soundtrack. A quick stop at The Body Shop for a short slather of their featured body butter, and I’m good to go back to my hotel room.

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