Track Inspection at Swanwick We saw them approaching through the mist, two orange points of light enlarging as they closed the distance and clarified as men. One paced the four-foot, head low, spanner eased high across a shoulder, as if marching the roads to war, gun slung as they slung guns then. He searched for cracks and the odd loose bolt, the lookout had sighted an oncoming train blowing a warning. They stepped into the cess. When the train had passed they resumed fault finding. The morning mist had turned to rain. It streamed from the luminous coats, caressed their leggings, their waterlogged hobnails hugging the ballast. But his eyes were back on track, head swaying like oxen, ploughing. Sleepers slipped passed them as they made the last miles, lugging their legs, thinking increasingly of bed. It seemed like many hours since they had slept.