something to declare
A likely story
Saturday 12 August 1995
Yet how was it that this form came to be ripped violently from my hands by an employee of SNCF, and my first class return ticket from Paris to London torn in half?
I arrived at Gare du Nord by 19.30 for the 20.13 train and promptly realised I had left my ticket, passport and money at my hotel. After 20 minutes of whacky races around Paris, I heaved a sigh of relief as my taxi bumped to a halt outside the terminal at 19.50.
My travelling companions had gone on ahead with my baggage and after queuing at the wrong ticket office for 10 minutes, I ran up the stairs to the Eurostar ticket barrier. "It's too late," I was told. It was 20.05, eight whole minutes before the train was due to leave. An argument ensued as five other passengers arrived, unable to believe that they were not to be allowed on to the train. And surely it is a breach of security to allow baggage to travel without its owner on board.
At this point, a ticket collector arrived and smiled smugly at us. He had no interest in getting us on the train. When I started scribbling down his name on the back of the comments form I had been given, he went into a frenzy and covered up his name card. He then lunged forward and snatched the form from my hands (my ticket was inside it) and it ripped in two.
The train pulled out of the station, and I was left with the clothes I was standing in, and half a ticket. Fortunately, a mystified station master took one look at the torn ticket and my now teary face and quickly issued me with a new one for 8.13 the following morning.
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