In the June 28, 2008 issue of BMJ (the publication formerly known as the British Medical Journal) Barrie Smith, a retired physician from Birmingham, describes—though he does not name—a new form of the grand British tradition of otting. The proper name for it is obvious to anyone who reads Dr. Smith’s description: windowspotting.

The best known of otting traditions is trainspotting. Some British citizens also practice planespotting, busspotting (a practice that now draws disapproval from the British Government, which views bus spotters as being possible terrorist spies) and other varieties of otting. These may all be descended from the ancient practice of bird spotting, also known as bird watching.

Here is the beginning of the Dr. Smith’s description, the first ever to appear in a medical publication, of windowspotting:

Why so many open windows?

The BMJ is to be congratulated on repeatedly returning to the topic of measures to combat climate change, and encouraging doctors to take an interest in the issues. Preventing unnecessary fuel usage is important not only in combating global warming but it also leads to financial gains.

On 28 February I paid a visit to a local general hospital (500 beds plus) to count the number of
open windows in all areas—there were 358. The building is some 30 years old. Most of the original windows were replaced with double glazed ones some years ago. I have difficulty working out how effective the double glazing is when the windows are open.

(That’s an excerpt from the article “Windowspotting,” published in AIR 14:5.)