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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 2, June 2013

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Geoffrey Winch
Felpham, West Sussex, United Kingdom


En Route

I park my scraper[i] next to the others; turn its engine off; remove my ear defenders, and climb down from the cab. I glance back at the length we’ve just re-shaped, then give my buddies the thumbs-up. They walk off through the dust–dust that takes long to settle in this stifling weather. I turn about to scan the length we start tomorrow—its swathe defined by two lines of pristine posts and rails. I assess the profile boards[ii], the cut and fill, but, to get a better feel, I decide to walk it.

Cattle on the outside stand and gaze as I trip and stagger along the whole half-a-mile: their once-tranquil grazing fields—stripped of top-soil—rutted by the toing and froing of diggers during recent rotten weather. At last I reach the last grubbed-up hedge, now just a burning pile. Beyond this point fencers still are hard at work extending their lines: another half-mile.

As I turn once more to retrace my steps I try to weigh-up through the smoke and dust the toll we’re taking on the landscape: the lengths we’ve so far riven, and the ever-creeping ribbon of tarmac, but can only shrug my shoulders and look up to the heavens.

hot from Africa
long-haul swallows fly
freeways of the skies


Author’s Notes:

[i] Scraper = In road construction, a heavy machine for moving earth over relatively smooth areas for distances of up to about two miles.

[ii] Profile boards = Temporary horizontal boards fixed at predetermined heights to indicate the final design levels of a road under construction.

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