Do you remember golliwogs? Those black rag dolls with frizzy hair and red lips? You probably do, although most golliwog toys and references have succumbed to a UK-wide extermination process in the last few decades. Well, the toy hasn't exactly done much to promote racial equality and tolerance: terms like 'golliwog' and 'wog' entered the slang lexicon as racial slurs.
I've often wondered why rail travel provides more opportunities to converse than air travel and I've concluded that much of it has to be linked to the fact people have more space and sometimes sit facing each other during journeys. Seeing the historic Belgian city of Namur through the carriage windows, the dense forestation of the Ardennes and the skyline of Rotterdam prompted conversation among the people with whom I was sitting.