Wednesday, 5 November 2008


I'm on a train from Walsall to Birmingham and we have just pulled into Bescot Stadium station, named for its proximity to the Walsall FC ground. It's also close to the M6, which flies over the area on huge concrete struts. To get to the stadium from the station you have to cross a footbridge over the railway tracks, the top of which is parallel to and only a few feet away from the motorway. It is here on this bridge that members of a small, select group of men can occasionally be found. They are the Stobart spotters. Kindred spirits of the trainspotting fraternity, they stand there noting down the details of every Eddie Stobart lorry that goes by.

They were first pointed out to me by a guy who gave me a lift a few years ago, and I've noticed them occasionally since as I've zipped by on the motorway. But today I get to see one of them close up as he alights from the train. He is a short stocky guy, probably in his fifties, who gives the game away with his green jacket with the Stobart logo on the back and a row of badges pinned to the front, at least a couple of which have the logo on them as well. He has that trainspotter look about him - slightly odd but clearly contented in a self absorbed kind of way.

It would be easy to ridicule him for his hobby, making it out to be an incomprehensible waste of time. But the truth is I have probably gotten the same strange satisfaction from spotting him that he gets from spotting lorries. I have noticed and recognised some small details that almost no-one else would think to look twice at, which gives me a feeling approaching cleverness, regardless of the reasons why most people wouldn't look twice.

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