Tim Fischer once gave an interview to a Canberra Times reporter while sitting on a train between Rome and Milan, back when he was the Australian ambassador to the Holy See.
He took time to set the scene for the reporter back in Canberra - the non-smoking carriage was crowded, the passengers were relaxed, the train moving quickly - before landing on his own pet cause.
''It's comfortable - it's not the fastest, but it's running at the same speed that would give the Melbourne-Sydney route less than three hours, and the Canberra-Sydney [route] one hour.''
It was classic Fischer - chatty and knowledgeable, and willing to take the time for a good chat, especially if it involved trains.
There was a reason Tim Fischer received a standing ovation from every member of the Federal Parliament when he announced he would stand down as deputy prime minister in 1999.
It wasn't just because he was choking back tears, although he was a rare politician who wore his heart lightly and comfortably on his sleeve.
It wasn't just because of his strong moral stance in the wake of Port Arthur in 1996, when he stood up to furious farmers - many in his own electorate of Farrer - to argue that they should hand in their semi-automatic guns.
And it wasn't just that he had a life outside and beyond politics, including trains, travel and military history.
It was that he was a man who transcended politics, with an appeal beyond his own party of farmers and rural voters.
Although socially conservative and a devout Catholic, Fischer was stridently anti-racist, and spoke out more firmly against Pauline Hanson and her divisive politics, than John Howard, the prime minister at the time.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about Tim Fischer. Journalists, constituents, fellow train enthusiasts, church-goers, diplomats - many have stories of a man with a sense of generosity.
He made the time to speak to everyone, especially when it was the chance to dwell on a favourite topic.
Although trains were a lifelong obsession, he wasn't an eccentric trainspotter. He wanted to understand the role trains played in different countries, different times and different economies.
It was no wonder that his journey on that day from Milan to Rome was viewed through lenses tinted by time moving between Canberra and surrounding towns and cities.
Distinctive in his akubra, he was a patriotic Australian with barely a hint of the jingoism that is so rife in modern politics.
But he had interests beyond Australia, and even beyond Rome; a Vietnam veteran, he had a lifelong interest in the region, especially Thailand, and developed a broader interest in Islam.
This led him to call for a better understanding of the plight of Palestinians and Lebanses in Israel.
He also revealed last year that it could well have been his time in Vietnam, and exposure to Agent Orange, that led to the health problems that would eventually lead to his death in Albury on Thursday.
He was someone the country can be proud of, someone whose personality remained direct and idiosyncratic long after he left politics.
In the words of many around the nation upon the announcement of his death this week, Tim Fischer was one of the good ones.