I cursed my prudence, wished I’d blown

A fortnight’s wages on a flight

And not been sat in Crewe alone

In greasy fog, well past midnight.


Then eager trainspotters arrived

Their soft uncoolness warms the place

Some other-worldliness-derived

Contentment shows on every face.


Cowed school-boys and bullied clerks.

Apprentices whom elders mock

Erase those slights those snide remarks

With lists of code for rolling stock.


‘Do you collect numbers?’ says Wayne

I nod to my bags on the floor

‘I’m just waiting here for a train’

I’ve time, so ask him to tell more.


We meet some ultras: Mick has scars

Where marshalling yard dogs bit deep

And Ken seeks only buffet cars

And Ted has fallen fast asleep.


But these are gentlemen and so

When shunting starts they wake up Ted.

Corinthian, they’ll tell their foe

Of rarities within some shed.


Wayne shows his lists, small digits dense

The fruit of years on wet platforms

The question ‘why’ would just incense

Or break his shield against life’s storms.


Now as I fill my own notebook

Remembering those boys in Crewe

And all the futile care they took

Should ask myself, ‘Is that me too?’