In the Thalys train, on my way back to Brussels from Paris this evening, I witnessed a rather sad episode. Three young teenage boys from the banlieue got on to the train. Clearly, they were not typical Thalys clients and they were planning mischief; they were, in short, trouble on its way to happen. I could see all the passengers instinctively checking their wallets and watches as they passed by the three. When the train got underway the boys moved elsewhere and I forgot about them. But at Bruxelles Midi there was a lot of shouting and then I saw two burly men in red sweatshirts emblazoned with the legend ‘Securail’ marching two of the three boys off of the train. The third was wandering around on the platform, apparently waiting to be caught. ‘You idiots!’ I felt like telling the boys. ‘That was just so obvious! You were bound to get caught.’ But, then, when I looked closer, I realised that they had expected to get caught – indeed, had probably wanted to get caught. It was a rite of passage of some sort. They were so young (13? 14?) that I doubt whether, apart from the rough handling  that the red sweatshirts were clearly enjoying handing out, they suffered any sanction other than being returned to Paris. Nevertheless, the episode saddened me. Somehow, it reminded me of Rosselini’s urchin in Paisà.