I celebrated my fifty-fifth birthday today by boarding the Amtrak train at Penn Station and travelling through five states (New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland) to Union Station, Washington, DC. Thus ends an all-too-short stay in New York, but it is only the first of six major US cities we’ll be visiting on this tour. The rail trip goes past some splendid industrial architecture and any number of important sights, including Newark, Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore and the Delaware River. We’ll be back, that’s for certain. In the meantime, Washington’s Union Station likes to boast that it receives 30 million visitors a year – more than the White House. This is not so surprising. In the first place, the White House has been closed to visitors since 9/11. In the second, the whole of the underground concourse of the station is given over to ‘eateries’ of every conceivable ethnic and cultural origin, and all delivering ‘fast food’ of some sort. Even a short stay in Union Station could lead to obesity, I fear!