‘Hallo! Yes you my friend! Do you want some drugs?’ said a cheery teenage narcotics salesman.
‘No!’ I said, standing in the sunshine outside Marseille St Charles railway station contemplating the city rooftops while waiting for a train.
Tucked inside my jacket pocket was a 30-day (continuous) Eurail pass. Riding the rails across Europe for a month, alighting and disembarking on a whim, was a long-cherished dream.
Andalucian energy: Jeremy toured Europe on a 30-day Eurail pass, with stops including Seville
In another pocket was a 30-day supply of antidepressants. Pills and a month on rails across Europe, I hoped, would see off a recent touch of the blues. It was my 60th birthday.
I climbed aboard the next train to Barcelona, slung my bag up on to the luggage rack and settled in to a sunny window seat. A whistle blew and we were moving, carving a smooth, curving passage through low-rise suburbs.
If performance is three-quarters of character, the elderly French train conductor had made it his entire life’s mission. I showed him my Eurail pass in its blue case and he bowed at the waist. ‘Et bon voyage, Monsieur!’ he said…