After an interminable DLR journey sat next to an old bloke who was unable to communicate in anything besides cheesy aphorisms, I set off for Paris from St Pancras International!

Look! It’s the station I walk past twice a day and you’ve all seen a hundred times! Isn’t it SPECIAL? Don’t you feel SPECIAL seeing photographic evidence that this whole trip isn’t just a product of my fevered imagination? You sickos, you.

I sat myself down for the short HS1-powered trip and savoured my surroundings. There was a family of daytrippers on the seats opposite engorging themselves on pastries who were turfed out by a gang of silver-tufted Businessmen at Ebbsfleet once they realised they were in the wrong coach, as well as some nicely-animated safety information videos playing on a loop on overhead monitors, and lastly on the seat next to mine was a raven-haired young lady in a turtleneck who looked extremely nervous the whole trip down, fidgeting with her handbag constantly and looking back at the connecting door.

We entered the chunnel and were plunged into marginal-dimness-as-the-Eurostar-is-surprisingly-well-lit, when I heard the cabin door open behind me. Before I could turn around and see who entered, I found my lips suddenly and unexpectedly locked with the raven-haired woman sat next to me. I would have called this a pleasing development, except I hadn’t washed my mouth since the sausage-and-egg butty I’d had earlier that morning, so I was more terrified than anything else.

My profound sexual nervousness led me to concentrate on the man who’d entered the coach while we were busy locking tongues. He was a swarthy fellow with a scar over his right eye, who appeared to be desperately looking for something. Or someone. He glanced over us and muttered something harsh under his breath before rushing to the next coach.

The raven-haired woman pulled her lips away and watched the scarred man leave.

‘Uh…hi!’ I giggled giddily, ‘I’m-’

‘Don’t care. Nice to meet you,’ the woman answered bluntly in an accent I couldn’t quite place. She reached over me, brushing my backpack before getting up and skidaddling the way the scarred man had came.

So that was an interesting development. I might have investigated further but the train emerged into French sunshine and I got distracted.

We pulled into Gare du Nord and I looked around the platform to see if I could find the raven-haired woman. Swap numbers, that sort thing. I did see her, but unfortunately she was a mite distracted barging through passengers trying to escape the scarred man, who was wielding a pistol menacingly. In a menacing fashion.

Two shots rang out just as the woman was trying to flee the wrong way up an escalator, and she collapsed and rolled back onto the platform like a sack of spuds falling off a conveyor belt, her handbag spinning across the concrete floor. The scarred man rushed to the handbag and scoured through its contents, shouting curses in all kinds of fascinating languages. I snuck away with the rest of the fleeing passengers while he was distracted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I should have been more alarmed, but being a foreigner in a strange land I didn’t feel it was my place to judge. Maybe this sort of thing happens in Gare du Nord all the time? That Jason Bourne fellow does keep getting into firefights in places like this, and I wasn’t impounded by the Gendarmie or nuthin’ so I assumed this was a regular Saturday afternoon occurence and carried on into the heart of Paris.

A balmy 23 degrees in glorious continental sunshine. Isn’t it lovely?