Travelling to Paris on a lunchtime Eurostar departure for the leisure classes, we have barely made it out of King’s Cross before the carriage is overwhelmed with the plangent twang of a mother — American, as it happens — informing her two young charges of the trip, food opportunities and entertainments on-board. Despite the crowded carriage, her voice is carefully modulated so as to be audible as far back as the case racks by the exits, and well into the dining car beyond.

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