Anorak of Fire
The ancient sages said: ‘Do not despise the snake for having no horns. For who is to say it may not become a dragon’. And so may one man become an Anorak.
It is said an anorak can walk in a room and not be seen. Can speak and not be heard. Can touch, but not be felt. Such is the rush of people clearing the room to avoid him.
The time is the first decade of the third millennium. The place is Blackburn. Kane had been raised by his mother and father. The latter, who ran off to get away from his son’s obsessive behaviour, tells people it was really with his school dinner lady. But he still paid his estranged wife regular visits at night – when Kane was busy reading his collection of Rovers programmes. She pretended to be ill when his father called. Anoraxia Nervosa, she called it.
Something seemed wrong with the boy at an early age. He could recite the shipping forecast in its correct order at the age of three. His mother reconciled herself to his future life and bought him a model railway set. But Kane was going to be no train spotter. He was smitten by the blue and white halves from his home town.
It first started when his dad took him to watch Rovers as a schoolboy. A boring nil apiece draw sent most of the crowd to sleep – but not Kane. This was life, this was Rovers, this was interesting! Not only was his interest limited to watching the team on the pitch. He spent his spare time in Blackburn Reference Library digesting facts about Rovers, like a glutton eats pies. Before long he was full of so much knowledge, he could bore his family and lose all his friends in no time.
But Kane had still to pass the ultimate test. Impressing the master who sat in the corner of the reference library, next to all the Rovers books. There he sat, an old man, his white eyes glued to the latest updated book about Rovers past players.
‘So, young man, you think you know all about Blackburn Rovers history?’ the master looked up from his encyclopaedia.
‘Is it good to seek the past master?’ asked Kane.
‘If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present. But if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future. The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past.’
‘Yes master. Ask me questions. I seek knowledge. Will you make me an anorak?’ replied Kane, his head bowed before the old man.
‘Where was Rovers’ first ever floodlit game?’ asked the old man.
‘Alexandra Meadows, in 1878, Master’ replied Kane.
‘And who were we playing?’ he asked again.
‘Accrington’, said Kane, without even batting an eyelid.
‘Where did Rovers third FA Cup win in a row take place and why?’
‘The Final was a draw at the Oval, we won the replay at the Racecourse, Derby, in 1886.’
‘Young man, now it is time for you to leave. You already possess much knowledge.’
‘Thank you Master. I seek not to know the answers, but to understand the questions.’
‘Please just go forth. Your journey is long, but mine is nearly complete,’ said the old man.
And there Kane began his journey. He won bets, arguments and dominated pub quizzes. Even a successful TV western series, with Chinese influences was also attributed to Kane the Rovers fan. His life became devoted to fathoming the unfathomable. Seeking the unseekable.
Just out of interest I did a survey of a randomly selected group of Notes & Queries participants and categorised them into anoraks and non-anoraks based on a sophisticated questionnaire. The proportion that were anoraks turned out to be significantly higher than that of the general population at a p level of <0.001 using a binomial exact test. I can send you a copy of the results if you want, in a PDF attachment. Ooh here come the Rovers…..