he old sleeper train from the Hook of Holland to Saltzburg was always a childhood favourite of mine; not only the special mini-compartment to hold your watch in the bunk, but the joy of waking at intervals during the night as the train crossed the various European borders and the thrill of smartly uniformed border guards with pistols checking documents just inches from your bed. It was all very secure and reassuring; the world was safe and ordered.
I saw a superb exhibition in the Stedelijk just after Schengen came in. Photographs of old border posts, the poles taken away, chickweed growing from the tarmac in front of the graffitied guards' huts. Hundreds of them. The exhibition struck an unusual note for the world of modern art - a note of something important lost, of a vague mourning, of a self-inflicted threat. Triumphal it was not. What had gone was the comfort of those big men with polished leather pistol-holsters keeping the baddies at bay.
Now it seems the French are wondering what they did with all those border guards; a flood of migrants from the Maghreb are moving North to swell the banlieues. France's annual unofficial scrappage scheme, in which a few thousand autos are ceremonially torched, looks set to provide a bumper opportunity for new car sales this year as the Islamic ghettoes swelter under the dual burden of a Burqa ban and feeding their newly-arrived North African cousins from the household food pots.
Do you think they're learning something?