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The fog was like a saffron blanket soaked in ice-water. It had hung over London all day and at last was beginning to descend. the sky was yellow as a duster and the rest was a granular black, overprinted in grey and lightened by occasional slivers of bright fish colour as a policeman turned in his wet cape.

Already the traffic was at an irritable crawl. By dusk it would be stationary. To the west the Park dripped wretchedly and to the north the great railway terminus slammed and banged and exploded hollowly about its affairs.

I found this from The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham. I can't picture what the bolded sentence is describing exactly.

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This is scene-setting, with a bit of metonymy thrown into the description.


The Park is a place to the west, and this noun is used here to stand in for the things contained in the Park (trees, bushes, etc.) Everything in the Park is dripping, due to the weather, and so the metonymous phrase is used that the Park itself is dripping. The word "wretchedly" is used in sense 1 here, with a hint of sense 5:

wretched [...]

  1. Characterized by or feeling deep affliction or distress; very miserable.
    Synonyms: dejected, (archaic or obsolete) wretchful
    I felt wretched after my wife died.

[...]

  1. Of weather: causing much discomfort; very unpleasant; miserable.

Derived terms

  • wretchedly

So you could understand "the Park dripped wretchedly" as "the things in the Park dripped miserably".


The "great railway terminus" is also used metonymously, to represent the things contained in the terminus - trains and other noisy contraptions, the things that "slammed and banged and exploded hollowly". Remember that, at the time this novel is set, they would be steam trains, often a lot more noisy than the modern diesel or electric trains.

As for "about its affairs", this could be seen as personification. Usually, people are said to go about their affairs, but in this sentence, it's a railway station.

So you could understand "the great railway terminus slammed and banged and exploded hollowly about its affairs" as something like "the machines in the great railway terminus emitted slamming and banging and hollow exploding noises, as business went on as usual".

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  • It's not clear to me (from a quick glance at my copy) which London station this is - the nearby Crumb Street appears to be fictitious - but this website says it's Paddington. It is north of Hyde Park, but the characters could be travelling to the station by a route passing east of the Park. Sep 7, 2023 at 9:18
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    @KateBunting Asking which station it is, and whether that can be deduced from clues in the text, would make an excellent setting question for this site :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Sep 7, 2023 at 9:53

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