"I sometimes feel as if the Channel Tunnel is a thread running through my whole life."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I'll never forget the day that Thatcher and Mitterand signed the treaty that gave the green light to the thing being built."
"When was that?"
"Nineteen eighty-six. I always remember it because of what happened that day."
"The treaty was signed in the Chapter House of Canterbury Cathedral. We were living in Canterbury at the time."
"Yes, and there was a lot of security in the town. Police everywhere. Snipers on roofs. All that stuff."
"Our phone was cut off for the day and a policeman loitered very obviously just across from our front door."
"No real reason. Well, apart from my dad being a full-time union official."
"What's that got to do with anything?"
"Exactly. He was clearly on some police list of trouble makers. Hence the intimidation when Mrs. T was in town."
"You're making it up. Thing like that don't happen in Britain."
"Believe me. Don't believe me. Whatever."
"What made you bring up the Channel Tunnel anyway?"
"I saw a train in the station today when I was on the way down to work. It caught my eye because I could see a big graffiti piece had recently been scrubbed off one carriage."
"Yes. There were tons of big runners on the trains earlier in the year. It looked like First Capital Connect were losing their supposed war on the graffiti boys. But I haven't seen anything lately, other than the odd remnant here and there, such as what I noticed today. Anyway, as I was peering at this carriage, I noticed it had a name plate. Someone had decided to name this carriage Coquelles at some point."
"Coquelles? What's that?"
"I'm not sure. Clearly a French word and I'm guessing it's something to do with the Tunnel because under the plaque there was another little sign saying that the carriage had carried the first British passengers through the Channel Tunnel on December 10th 1993."
"December 10th? That's today."
"Right. Quite a coincidence to spot the plaque on the anniversary of the event."
"What a come down for that carriage. Making history nineteen years ago..."
"... and now just shuttling up and down between Brighton and Bedford, occasionally getting graffitied up."
"From greatness to graffness."