Friday, 30 March 2012

Our Dieselpunk Present

Kings Cross right now is like a vast pre 1939 industrial landscape being rebuilt and renovated into something seriously 21st centry,  on such a scale that in an ironic bit of circularity it starts to resemble the future of Things To Come (1936).

The pre Easter heat wave we are having is kicking up a lot of dust in the perpetual development of Kings Cross, giving York Way a bronzed chromium sheen. Facsination for the austere Art deco world of the 1930s in the 2012's  I believe is called  deiselpunk.

Here are some pics

Just up the road from the development, the disused York Way tube station closed in 1932

Still from Things To Come

View from Kings Place third floor

Kings Cross new concourse exterior (opened last week)

Kings Cross interior

Kings Cross Parcel Room, the newly renovated bar

St. Pancras behind more Kings Cross exterior

Not relevant but included anyway: on the way home, the Scala, still a spiritual home

Another bonus in the area, Pret a Manger York Way is full of gorgeously moody spanish girls, not as friendly as the French Pret crowd in Croydon but unlike La Linnea in actual Spain you do feel their apparent moodiness is a cultural militancy rather than genuine dislike (one thing I've come to learn, when the French and Spanish do dislike you they won't bother to hide it - in that respect you can't fault them for honesty). I'm being very harsh actually, they are moody but unearingly friendly and professional and I eat there virtually every day (I have to be careful what I say on this blog after The Lukins friends and family read that previous blogpost..)

I am going through a bit of  1930's fascination at the moment (hence lots of Pret a Manger) sparked by another podcast..

the only historian, or even aspiring historian, to you use the phrase 'freaked out', what he lacks in professionalism and accuracy he more than makes up for in enthusiasm.
He seems to be sourcing so many books it is hard to keep track (Dunkirk Fight to The Last Man is one) but at least he is picking the right material, he plugs them relentessly and you can't fault his effort.

What really saves him in my eyes is the coverage of the fall of France in 1940. It comes without any of the cheese eating surrender monkey guff you might expect from an Anglo perspective. The French Army did not run away in 1940. The worst of that army shamefully was exposed to face the sharpest point of the Blitzkrieg and the Germans drove an entire army through that hole at unbelievable speed, to gut the real Allied forces before they were even aware what was happening. The Panzers moved so fast even their own general staff were unnerved by their progress, it is hardly surprising the veterans of WW1 could not cope.

This much I already knew, but the podcast fills in the poltical detail in the French Government and makes it imediate and fascinating. The Fall of France was not not just an inevitable pathetic collapse it was a real tragedy of lost opportunity, like the Spanish Civil War in fast forward, with every single setback exploited to the full by the enemy and every atempt to fix the situation playing into the hands of those who ultimately would be happy to work with the Nazis. What that does to the national consciousness I would hate to think but if the defense of Britain in 1940 were somehow to depend on say, the force that failed to defend Singapore, we might be a little less ready to ridicule.

In 1939 the French Army was still considered the best in the world, and the French Republic it protected was a beacon of civilisation and stability. Six months later, by the sumer of 1940  was a lost world, all gone in a chromium dust storm of fast moving events and poltical treachery.

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