January 14, 2013

In the re-enacting world, don’t be a “Walt” or a “Farb”

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:15

Dick Delingpole tells us more about the less-welcome members of the re-enacting hobby:

Re-enactors have a term of abuse, “Farb”, thought to have originated in the States, which is used to describe someone whose authenticity standards leave much to be desired. There is also a term of abuse directed at re-enactors from outside the hobby, notably from the Armed Forces: “Walt”. It means “fantasist” or “wannabe”, and derives from James Thurber’s fictional literary fantasist, Walter Mitty. It is not used affectionately, and implies ineptitude with delusions of grandeur. Just google “walt” and “re-enactor” and you’ll get the idea.

Despite my deep and abiding affection for our Armed Forces, I think there’s a bit of misunderstanding here.

In 12 years, the only re-enactors I’ve met who think that they’re soldiers are the ones who actually are. And there are many of them: regulars and TA, retired, current and soon-to-be-joining. While ex-soldiers are attracted to the cameraderie associated with re-enactment, many are pursuing an interest in the history of their own regiments which doesn’t confine them to an armchair.

[. . .]

Early period re-enactors (anything pre WWII, but the earlier the better) attract relatively light amounts of abuse from the Armed Forces. One fellow Napoleonic re-enactor who is a serving Major in the Rifles, describes the kind of Walt most likely to get a soldier’s back up. They are overweight middle-aged blokes who can’t march or hold a gun correctly, but who have the kit, uniform and insignia of the current SAS or other specialist elite unit. Here I feel the insult is possibly justified. Why, asks the squaddy, don’t these people just join the army? And why must they represent elite forces whose serving members have sweated blood to be part of?

H/T to Elizabeth for the link.

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