Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Snorkel Parka Pleasures

Maybe you will have to have been a kid growing up in Britain in the 1970s to understand what I'm going on about here. The snorkel parka or anorak was de rigeur for kids my age, whether in blue or green (and some even black.) Snorkel, beacause the hood zipped right up, leaving just a tunnel of polyester and nylon fur and orange quilting. Lovely and snug in those cold UK winters of discontent, though wearing it 'full snorkel' cut off the peripheral vision completely, making it hard to perceive cars speeding outside the playground gates. A large, meanly-compacted snowball deftly inserted with force into the 'full snorkel' was also an always present hazard for the wearer. I have vivid memories of trudging to school in thick snow with submarine periscope vision, then greeting my friends in the playground, all similarly attired and wandering around clumsily in full snorkel mode, until we were eventually called inside.

Everyone, and I mean everyone had one in those days. They were just cool, and were literally big, warm, survival suits for kids, and easy for parents to get their kids to wear then. My brother had one which I considered to be better than mine, and I was so happy the day it was handed down to me. I had always wondered what happened to our parkas. They were like old friends that had disappeared over the time.

Imagine my surprise and joy then this week when I walked into our local charity shop (thrift store) and found this. A new, old stock, never worn Campari Snorkel Parka. Orange quilted lining, buckle on the hood, internal drawstrings, leather reinforced pocket seams, elasticated cuffs...I had forgotten what details these parkas had. Faux fur hood and polyester lining. All 100% nylon. As kids we were walking fire hazards, and by the time we had discovered cigarettes, we had - luckily - moved on to Harringtons, leathers or army jackets.

In a large size 40 and for just £10, I snapped it up without a second thought - and I'm now reliving my childhood winters in my new parka. My daughter gets scared when I peer at her through the snorkel. It's so warm, and comfy, and practical. And brings back very happy memories. Apparently they go on Ebay now for good money, especially the Lord Anthony ones. But I always remembered the Campari, England label (though it then says 'Made in Korea' on the label below..). Good parka info here

To appreciate how virtually all kids wore parkas in those days, watch this classic and famous clip from a football match when Hereford knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup, from 1972. The pitch invasion is carried out by young parka kids in parkas, strangely enough mostly green in this case, and with some kids with hoods down and some in full snorkel. Classic.


Guy@GK said...

The parkas to have were those army green canvas ones with the proper rabbit fur-trimmed hoods... never had one of those. Only the cool kids like Peter Trickett and Sean Redmond had them.

We always seemed to get the wannabes... polyester snorkels instead of parkas, monkey boots instead of DMs.

Good find!

Steven Salemi said...

Korean-Made Parka Vendors, Take Note: Dr. Martens shoes, which are mostly made in China now, does offer a special line of (Still) "Made In England" shoes. These are roughly twice the cost of the Chinese items, but definitely the way to go. I think they introduced the British-Made items after howls of protest in response to their initally moving all production to Asia.

My first pair of Chinese Doc Martens sucked. My second pair was pretty good. But still, I'll replace these with a third pair of English-made items. These will accompany two existing older pairs of English made items in the closet.


Iainw said...

I had one, the proper fish tail type! I'm still wearing DMs and just recently spent a few bob on a pair of tassle loafers.

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine said...

MMm, fishtail sounds like you might be a bit of a Mod. especially with DMs or tassle loafers. Mind you I have also worn all those things but never been a Mod. My DMs are the same ones I had as a teenager - don't wear 'em now but cherish them.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome find. Quite jealous! Too bad there's no photo of you modelling it - would look much cooler than just on a hanger, I am sure.

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine said...

Sorry but my modelling career finished years ago..

Anonymous said...

i have found a old army navy shop which sold me a lot of the rabbit fur trimmed parkas which i think everyone has been going on about they look so cool cant think why they stopped making them .

Anonymous said...

hi have they still got some of the parkas left? or all sold now?

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine said...

Don't know but I want to sell mine, 40 quid and it's yours..