Brickspotting: Pastime of the Modern British Commuter

Let me introduce you all to the wonderful world of Brickspotting, the Pastime of the Modern British Commuter

Brickspotting“, as the name implies, is the collection, cataloguing and exchange of information about those little red bricks that are aligned in the thousands next to many train lines in the United Kingdom.

Rows upon rows of them run for kilometers, at times in 30-foot walls of what was perhaps meant to be blurred red spots to glimpse through the windows of fast-running trains.

Nowadays however, thanks to the wonders of Commuting Technology there are plenty of occasions for those same trains to behave as if “fast” and “running” were foreign words unworthy of a British track.

Left in the middle of nowhere, wondering if the driver has gone completely ga-ga (as understood from the gurgled sounds coming out of the train’s PA system), hundreds of commuters have now discovered that those anonymous bricks can indeed have an individual soul.

There, one that is chipped to its left. There, another one’s got a black spot in its centre. Look, there is a brick that has been painted white and blue, part of a large graffiti!

Beginner Brickspotters start by marking the position of each Individual Brick on the wall. It takes just a minimal of patience at the start. No need to hurry: the train will dutifully stop again in the same area several times during the coming week.

Experienced Brickspotters are immediately recognised as they spend the long minutes/hours in the stopped train by drawing a detailed schema of their preferred wall.

Advanced Brickspotters are known to be equipped with maps with the location of the most peculiar Individual Bricks. They can be seen and heard at times exchanging information with other brickeratis.

With the advent of Brickspotting, collective groans are cried no more when commuters are hopelessly left at a standstill, replaced (the groans, not the commuters) by wild cheers of joy when enthusiastic Brickspotters finally see the elusive Orange Brick of Mile 117.5, conscious (the brickspotters, not the Orange Brick) of envious like-minded people imprisoned in the (rarer and rarer) fast trains.

Some very lucky people even get the opportunity of a close encounter of the n-th kind with their number one Individual Brick, as I did six years ago.

Joy and contentment will follow, for decades to come…