Off topic: the social context of anoraks

Fiona Haggart F.Haggart at
Thu Mar 29 01:41:37 EST 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: Bill Edminster <bedminst at>
To: <dwj at>
Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2001 2:19 AM
Subject: Off topic: the social context of anoraks

>   I've been on binge of reading British and Irish books and of listening
> BBC4 on the Internet.  In several books or radio plays an otherwise
> nondescript character is described as wearing an anorak and apparently
> works as social shorthand about the character.  I get the impression it
> he's economically marginal or criminal or politically green or criminally
> green.  Am I reading too much into this detail?

I think you are a little. In the UK, 'Anorak' has become a slang for fannish
or obsessive behaviour and it derives from the cliche that trainspotters
(people who collect train numbers as a hobby) all wore anoraks and bobble
hats, and carried tartan patterned thermos flasks. If I were listening to a
play that mentioned a character in an anorak I'd immediately suspect him of
being a Trekkie (Trekker?) than of being economically marginal :-)


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