Thursday, 24 March 2011

Waterloo in the rush hour

Indeed, yes, the title says it all really. I am at Waterloo in the rush hour, but I am not rushing. For reasons not discussed here I haven't been at work today, but I have a Salomon rehearsal this evening. I'd usually be rushing in in a Sweaty Panic from the office … but not this evening.

For once in my wretched disorganized life I actually left home in good time, so I've arrived here feeling quite calm and benign. A quick visit to a Cafe Nero in the station and I'm lattéed up and happy, and I can sit outside the (rather gorgeous) church and just be, amid all the rush, an observer but not a participant.

This is a horrible and also rather wonderful area. Horrible because, mainly, of the mass of people charging around by car, bike, bus, taxi, train: the station itself is rather impressive but doesn't seem to have quite enough entrances, or they're in the wrong place, or something. It all seems - when you are not yourself part of it - crazily busy. The station is also strange and a little difficult to understand because, like so many others, it has a slightly weird and complex history, the legacy of rail's piecemeal and sometimes seemingly random development in central London … or, rather, just outside it, which is rather the point I guess.

The station is of course named after a certain battle, sure. But what's a little more interesting to me is our rehearsal venue right opposite, the church of St John the Evangelist. This too commemorates Wellington's victory: it is thus a Waterloo Church of (natch) the early C19 and a sister to the lovely St George's, Brandon Hill in Bristol - a place which I know rather well and of which I'm very fond. So, while I usually prefer my churches medieaval, I find the impressively neoclassical St John's a very appealing place, and a very fine thing indeed to sit and contemplate.

Inside, it is rather glorious and beautifully peaceful, or at least it will be until we start work on Saint-Saens, Poulenc and Faure (pattern here, anyone?) But for now I'm very content to just sit outside and admire it, and this streaming busy area around its calm corner, and enjoy my coffee.

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