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February 5, 2009 3:17 AM   Subscribe

As Orwell said, "another English characteristic which is so much a part of us that we barely notice it,... is the addiction to hobbies and spare-time occupations". Of those, trainspotting must be the most misunderstood. But now you can try it yourself with the online trainspotting simulator and join in the fun!
posted by lucia__is__dada (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some people prefer comment-spotting: hovering over a thread, refreshing, waiting, seeing the comments pass by. Lurkers they call them.
posted by jouke at 3:40 AM on February 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's also plane spotting.
posted by jouke at 4:08 AM on February 5, 2009


Isn't buggery the king of all English past times?
posted by McGuillicuddy at 4:40 AM on February 5, 2009


Does anyone else really want some heroin now?
posted by Pollomacho at 4:42 AM on February 5, 2009 [3 favorites]


No, McGuillicuddy, but for you I'll make an exception.
posted by Phanx at 4:45 AM on February 5, 2009


jouke at 3:40 AM on February 5 [1 favorite +] [!]
jouke at 4:08 AM on February 5 [+] [!]
McGuillicuddy at 4:40 AM on February 5 [+] [!]
Pollomacho at 4:42 AM on February 5 [+] [!]
posted by orme at 4:45 AM on February 5, 2009 [8 favorites]


Does anyone else really want some heroin now?
The first one is free
posted by ElvisJesus at 4:47 AM on February 5, 2009


That's right, it's the King of all England's pasttime. My mistake.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 4:48 AM on February 5, 2009


There's also plane spotting.
Bus spotting!
posted by Abiezer at 5:00 AM on February 5, 2009


I wonder if Orwell ever noticed that in every other country you can find people with odd obsessive hobbies. Does that mean they are English too?
posted by awfurby at 5:02 AM on February 5, 2009


However, that is a most excellent Trainspotting Simulator. I went for a cup of tea and missed the train!
posted by awfurby at 5:04 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like trains. I like seeing trains. I never mind waiting in traffic stopped for a train. On my drive to work I pass Rondout Junction. I can tell you that theres usually some freight cars and a caboose parked there. Sometimes, as for the last few weeks, there's also a crane on the siding. I occasionally walk by there on my lunch break, and if I had a pair of binoculars I'd probably take them with me. If I was the type to take pictures I'd probably bring a camera and post the pics to flickr just for the hell of it. Maybe I will, why not? There's something wonderful about trains.
posted by Reverend John at 6:55 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I almost started bus-spotting in Seattle, more out of a curiosity of if the bus I rode everyday were the same bus.

Almost.

*shudder*
posted by gc at 6:59 AM on February 5, 2009


Are there people who go around train tracks and spot trainspotters? Ooh, there's a blue-anoraked beardie!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:00 AM on February 5, 2009 [5 favorites]


Trans are cool.

That is all.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:00 AM on February 5, 2009


trainspotting must be the most misunderstood.

I hear theres a subtitled version for the yanks though.

Did we do that one already?
posted by Artw at 7:53 AM on February 5, 2009


Trans are cool.

That is all.


While I don't disagree, this is both TMI and off topic.
posted by stet at 8:00 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I enjoy watching trains. I enjoyed watching Trainspotting. I enjoyed reading Trainspotting. I wish trains ran through our town still, but all they do is park some lumber cars on the siding and let them sit. My father's preoccupation with black-and-white steam engine photography? Meh.

Finally: Not English.
posted by everichon at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2009


Also: When you train, someone should be spotting.
posted by everichon at 8:20 AM on February 5, 2009


Artful Codger: Trans are cool. That is all.
stet: While I don't disagree, this is both TMI and off topic.

Not at all. Given that about 11% of the population of Vietnam carries that fine name, and that there are about 18 million people in Vietnam, there are about two million people in Vietnam named Trần. And given the sad and dilapidated state of the Vietnamese Railways, it's quite likely that most of the Trầns in the world suffer from a fairly distinct lack of trains.
posted by koeselitz at 8:24 AM on February 5, 2009


So, help a clueless American out here. Is the fascination with the trains themselves, the intersection of the trains with one's daily life, or the proper scheduling of the trains? Do trainspotters go on trainspotting tours to other countries, or are they just in awe of the train's role in British life? I ask as an archivist whose main user community is tractor/truck/farm implement fanatics, so I know that the reasons for being such a fanatic differ from person to person; but what is this trainspotting, in essence?
posted by theefixedstars at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2009


If hobbies are trains, then trainspotting is a trainwreck.
Horrific and pointless, yet a magnet for rubber-neckers.
posted by sour cream at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2009


Don't forget our past favorite Tran, Doctor Tran.
posted by willmize at 9:42 AM on February 5, 2009


You may drink your weak lemon drink now, or you may wait until later.
posted by Electric Dragon at 10:52 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are there people who go around train tracks and spot trainspotters? Ooh, there's a blue-anoraked beardie!

My wife and I played a version of this when we went on a steam train through the Cotswolds. As we chugged along, we'd see all the trainspotters with their binoculars behind the fence on the line, and call out 'BEARD!' or 'NO BEARD!' awarding ourselves 10 points every time we guessed right.
posted by randomination at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The train station I most frequently use is a bit of a scary place. It's a giant, crumbling Victorian brick edifice with nary a Network Rail employee to help you or sell tickets. A woman was raped there a few weeks back, in the subway to the south bound trains. It's a dodgy place in the mornings, even, though the sheer crush of us on the platform does give some warmth and safety.

If not for the trainspotters at the station, I wouldn't know what time the train was expected. Makes me want to bring them flasks of Bovril each morning, just to keep them there and encourage their presence. You know, like feeding strays brings more strays to your door.

Maybe, eventually, I'll have my own phalanx of trainspotting nerds. My posse. You know it makes sense!
posted by Grrlscout at 11:40 PM on February 5, 2009


randomination, that's so beautiful.

The only way it could be better would be if some of the people you saw weren't trainspotters but were actually spotting trainspotter-spotters on trains. Trainspotterspotterontrainsspotters.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 AM on February 6, 2009


A similar hobby is aircraft spotting, & it played a major role in exposing the CIA's treatment of terror suspects in secret prisons. I think extraordinary rendition was not public knowledge before that.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:31 AM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spare-time occupations are a national characteristic? Like, people outside of England are less likely to do things in their spare time? What, does the rest of the world just stare at walls when they haven't got anything better to do?
posted by LogicalDash at 12:52 PM on February 7, 2009


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