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
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?’