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Down on the promenade, I passed a road-digger smashing up a path with a pneumatic drill, about fifty feet from the North Sea in temperatures of around 3 degrees, with a north wind blowing and the waves spraying him with water every few seconds.

It was raining.

He was wrapped up in so many layers of clothing he looked mummified.

He’ll be doing this job next week and the week after, and the year after, and the decade after, until his body gives up, and he has to do something less physically taxing, by which time he’ll be wrecked with arthritis, industrial deafness and all sorts of physical ailments. But here and now, his toughness, his lack of complaint, his general grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it attitude, his manliness, humbled me.

That path was going to get smashed.

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