Sunday, 5 April 2009

Only the Shoplifters Wear Coats!

About ten years ago, or maybe even longer, I noticed a strange phenomenon one day whilst travelling on the bus. It was the middle of winter, in fact, I remember there was a blizzard. A young chap got onto the bus wearing one of those short sleeved polyester football shirts, a Sunderland FC one in this case but he wasn’t wearing a coat. He must be just going to someone’s house I thought but no, he got off at the football stadium and was obviously going to the match as it was a Saturday lunchtime. In case you're wondering exactly what he was wearing you can take a look at it here. Well this is the latest retro shirt.

Now I used to go to the matches in Sunderland in my youth but I remember being absolutely frozen even though I was well wrapped up with hat, scarf, thick winter coat, gloves and boots. The lad was going to get hypothermia if he wasn’t careful. I wondered whether he had learning difficulties or something as it seemed really daft to go out dressed like that.

However as time passed, I saw more and more young people who didn’t wear coats. I realised that most young people in the North East, especially girls just don’t wear coats or jackets if they are going out somewhere and it doesn't matter what the weather is.

You see them walking the streets winter and summer, rain, hail or shine with no coats, just strappy summer tops and mini skirts, the girls that is. They line up for clubs and pubs, skimpily clad in only their “glad rags” which are totally inappropriate for the frigid Northeast elements. I asked my daughter why they don’t wear coats and she said “Well where would you put your coat”? Mmmm carry them when you get in to a pub or restaurant maybe? No! Apparently you’d look a right prat carrying a coat!

I checked out whether it happens in other countries and apparently lots of youngsters in the USA don’t like to wear coats either. However it’s mainly because they go to school in the car or bus and are only outside for a short while. They do wear light jackets and hoodies apparently. Well they don’t seem to do that here. I see them walking to school in the pouring rain most are just wearing thin cotton shirts. Some have lightweight school blazers but most don’t wear jumpers. They must sit in soaking wet clothes all day. As far as I can tell it doesn’t seem to happen in other parts of the country, just here for some reason.

A few years ago the BBC TV drama series 55 Degrees North told the story of a police detective, Nicky Cole who was relocated from London to Newcastle after blowing the whistle on police corruption. (It was a great series and a pity they didn't continue it.) He found adjusting to life in the North a bit difficult and I found one of his comments about local people and the lack of outer clothing most memorable,

“Only the shoplifters in Newcastle wear coats!”

Well, is there a possible genetic reason for this bravery or is it simply because they like to show off their finery on a night out? Well now scientists want to discover if Geordies feel the cold or have extra thick skin to cope with low temperatures. A survey is to be carried out by staff at the Centre of Life in Newcastle to see how they are able to wear so little.

The online questions include:

'What would persuade you to wear a coat on a night out?'

(The likely answer to that is Nowt!)

The investigation is part of the Newcastle ScienceFest, which will feature a 10-day programme of events to celebrate creativity and innovation. Have to say I don’t believe this for one minute. I think it’s a generation thing. You never see people over forty without winter coats!

Also given that young people seem to drink quite a lot on nights out, maybe that’s why they don’t feel the cold.

For more information check out the BBC website


  1. "...apparently lots of youngsters in the USA don’t like to wear coats either. "

    That's true. People our age (I'm 60) walk by my house looking like Arctic explorers while people in their 20s walk by in shirt sleeves. When I was a boy, we didn't wear enough clothes because we were too macho. I guess looking good also has a lot to do with it for some people--as does good circulation.

  2. I can never understand why some people don't bundle up when it's cold outside. Do you suppose they don't feel the extremes of temperature as much as those of us who have aged a bit?

  3. My husband and I went out last night and I was freezing with my long sleeved shirt and short thick wool jacket. I remarked on the scantily clad women running from their car to the nightclubs. It's just silly if you ask me. About two years ago, two teens stoned on meth froze to death not far from their home. Seems they were overheated, went outdoors, and that was that. Duh.

  4. That is true about the younger people in US. Today I saw a woman in her twenties walking in a tank top - It's in the 40's!!

  5. I will have to check that one out. Now that we live in a college town.

  6. Well our one daughter who is 52 doesn't like to wear a winter coat, will pop around town in a light weight shirt like jacket when it's 0 outside. The only time I had that problem, was my last pregnancy, I was so hot all the time, and during the winter I wore only this cape like shawl, of course I wasn't out for long periods of time.

    I know our grandson (son of the daughter above) wears only a hoodie during the winter, even if he's walking to school. Guess it's popular.

  7. I think it's mad too but have heard that it is because the young don't want the bother of what to do with "the coat". Husband sometimes has to visit other cities - Manchester and Cardiff for example - and says it happens there as well, and in the coldest weather! A x

  8. I can't believe the way some people who were born and raised here in Maine dress. I freeze just looking at them strolling around inappropriately dressed in freezing weather. They must surely be mad or desire a lot of attention... thats it!

  9. A sign of the times...I'd say. I think most younger people don't want to bother with a coat, etc. Unless it would be a "fashion statement". Then they would all want one possibly. Interesting topic. It has baffled me for years why some people walk around in out of season clothing.

  10. Yes, we have the same phenomenon in the US. Young people don't like to wear coats or heavy jackets. I freeze just looking at them. But I do think the older you get, the more the cold affects you. Unless you're extremely well padded.

    Good post, Winifred. Hope you're doing well!


  11. I was setting on my porch one day watching the comings and goings in the neighborhood. The temps were in the high 30s or low 40s, not very warm and down the street comes a guy on a motorcycle, now I said to my husband I wonder what the wind chill factor is for that guy. He was in his shirt sleeves and no helmet, I wondered if he could get frostbite?

    I loved your commentary today, just enough serious with a bit of humor thrown in. ;)

  12. I remember not wanting to wear boots,hats or scarves in my youth, but COATS were always a must.

    Of course, now, I have every possible piece of warm clothing on.

    Loved this post.

    ~hippo hugs~

  13. Looks like stupidity isn't limited to the North East of England!

    I remember my dad going berserk with me when I went out in winter in a mini coat! He kept saying I'd catch my death of cold and it was only about 4inches above my knees. I did wear boots sometimes when it was really cold but I remember having frozen knees.

  14. I never like to wear coats.

  15. I remember when I was in my late teens and twenties my mum was forever telling me to put a coat on! I would never wear one on a night out on the town and I'm amazed I never perished from pneumonia before I hit 30!!

  16. I was lucky enough to have a 'night on the toon' last week. A very unusual event for me. I think I dressed nice, I wore a pretty T-shirt with a matching jacket. It was to celebrate the end of term, and the youngsters that were there wore tiny dresses (girls) and thin cotton shirts (boys) only me and one other lady (of advancing years) were dressed appropriately for the weather. I think it’s because in the North East there is this odd obsession with the 'pub crawl' barely in a pub for more than one drink, you would constantly be putting a coat on and off.

  17. Unless the weather is 10 below you won't find me wearing a coat and I'm 62:) Guess I'm just a young thing after all. LOL

  18. Great post!!! My husband often comments on the way young people don't wear coats or jackets in the USA and even wear shorts and sandals in the winter.


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