I already knew the man's name was Biondo, because he'd been on the same train as me from Milan, drinking from a 75 cl bottle of Peroni and discoursing to some German Expo workers in English about freedom. When they got off the train they gave him a round of applause, but although the train was full no one else came to sit in the four seats around him.
However he wasn't blond but black, probably from Senegal I guess. He had a small rucksack and looked like he'd been sleeping rough. At Gallarate he stayed around the station, chatting to a couple of Moroccan boys smoking out the front.
'I'm a Musltian,' he said in Italian. 'I'm a Muslim and a Christian and a Jew. I come from Egypt but one day I will be freed, w'Allah.'
I didn't hear the response but when he got on the ground to pray Muslim-style, calling out to Jesus and Mohammed, they seemed to become a bit uncomfortable and moved off calling back 'Salaam, brother, good night.'
Biondo disappeared for a few minutes and when he came back he had a new bottle of beer. He stood in the middle of the road and shouted in English. 'Africa is coming back! Africa! Europe you be careful, one day you will pay for what you did to Africa!'
He walked in furious circles, trying to catch people's eyes. An Italian teenager waiting for a bus put his arm around his young girlfriend and drew her to him protectively.
'Curses on Libya!' cried Biondo. 'Libya is the devil's nation. Six months I wait in Libya.'
Next to me the taxi drivers were saying we should throw them all in prison for six months before sending them back to Africa.
'Europe you are racist!' Now he was speaking Italian again. 'But Italians are the most racist of all. You are all racists but Africa is coming back to you!'
Across the road from Gallarate station is a late night café/bar. The manager, a tall man of Egyptian origin, came out and called to Biondo, telling him. to calm down, to go home. I had the feeling this was not the first time this had happened.
Biondo hurled a stream of obscenity in Egyptian Arabic at the man. Everyone is the square watches them. This continued for a while but Biondo must have gone too far in calling the bar manager's mother a whore, and suddenly the Egyptian began chasing him furiously around the square. Biondo was laughing, running, dodging, hiding behind clusters of kids on their way home.
Finally a couple of other guys from the bar succeeded in calming the tall Egyptian down, taking him back across the road. Biondo picked up his beer again, laughing and shouting, now in a language I didn't know.
The bar manager turned back from the doorstep. 'You know what's wrong with you, Biondo? TU NON RISPETTI LE REGOLE!'