Swinging in a Birdcage

When I met up with Pia – one of my German friends – at Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station yesterday, I wasn’t sure if I should expect to get drawn into a fantastic world full of imagination, enchantment and childhood dreams, or if I would observe the bewildering world of literature tourism from outside.

Harry Potter books

Being a huge Harry Potter fan myself – I read the first two parts of the series when I was 10 years old and I seriously hoped to receive a letter from Hogwarts when I turned 11 😉 – I should understand the attractive power of the supposed entrances to magical places. I should appreciate the incorporation of those places into public spaces as a success and as a positive acknowledgement. But still, I kind of perceive it as being an intrusion and vilification of the power of imagination. Strangely I didn’t feel like that when coming to platform 9 3/4 for the first time about one year ago (I went there with my friends Carmen and Julia on our trip to London in April 2011). I remember that back then we really had to look for the platform and there were not many people around. It really felt like looking for something magical and secret that was only waiting for us to discover and enjoy it.  But this time upon arrival at King’s Cross Station I was greeted by a ruthlessly sobering sense of reality. Bulks of tourists from all different parts of the world were queuing to pretend pushing the little trolley through a wall in the station’s entrance hall (?!), have their pictures taken and be off to the next tourist attraction. I was watching the spectacle for quite a while until Pia – who had been looking for the platform where it should have been, somewhere between  platforms 9 and 10 – joined me, and, not feeling magical about it at all, we quickly took our touristy pictures and then took our leave.

When looking for the platform Pia texted me ‘die magische Welt bleibt mir verschlossen‘ (‘the magical world remains closed to me’). That really describes how the whole situation felt like, but maybe that’s just the thing with magic and imagination. As soon as something gets too obvious, it’s not even there anymore. How great it must have been to linger between the platforms some years ago and imagine to push through a wall into another world…

Anyway, remember the picture I posted yesterday? Could you guess what it was? Ok, when leaving King’s Cross Station, Pia and I went for a walk and suddenly we saw this:

The child in me was still quite disappointed by the lack of magic at King’s Cross, so I was doubly pleased to ‘just like that’ stumble upon a giant’s birdcage with a swing in it! 🙂 Pia and I simply had to try it! And I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed swinging through the air sitting on this huge thing and travelling to all kinds of places in my mind… It reminded me of a bedtime story my mum used to read to me and my brother when we were little. Valerie und die Gute-Nacht-Schaukel (Valerie and the good-night-swing), the story of a little girl that never goes to sleep before swinging on her magical swing that takes her to many places far far away…

When I was swishing through the air in my bewitched birdcage that a giant had left right behind King’s Cross, I once again realised that essentially it is our own decision how we want to see the world and how he experience its magic – that is always there if we just want it to be!


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