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General Articles

PJs...or DJs...That is THE Question?

By Julia Moore

If you are passing through London, pop to the Victoria and Albert museum and give yourself plenty of time to visit the underwear exhibition - marvellous, the male items (?) were every bit as enthralling. Old school pal and I hung around the red-flannel pants for longer than is decent - bring back red-flannel pants and the world would be a better place.

The visit prompted some interesting, if eclectic associations with such garments...for example..….it was a HUGE faux pas, and the very last time I accepted a message from my, then, partner, without checking the source. There was a terrible misunderstanding, and we arrived at a social event wearing pyjamas, instead of dinner jackets (yes, even for the lady-guests, there are some very feminine versions of the standard apparel, you know?)....

So, once in a while, I recall the social shame of sitting through many courses, from gazpacho soup, through to raspberry couli, in a, thankfully, very tasteful night-time ensemble, trying to act as it it was an everyday occurrence, failing to be nonchalante.

PJs crop up in the oddest of places….an old UK news story reports that one of the big-chain supermarkets has banned PJ-wearers because it ‘lowers the tone’? And they say irony is dead...as if mass-produced, cheap food-and-related-items has some level of prestige? The sad truth, of course, is that celebrity PJs CAN be acceptable, when accompanied by the celebrity lifestyle and budget, but not if the marque is comes from the same supermarket which issued the statement - see what I mean about irony?

PJs can have happy childhood memories….my cohort of school pals were trained to be confident swimmers through the aid of inflated PJ bottoms. I can’t quite recall if they were used to simulate a drowning person, and we had to race to save them, or merely used them as buoyancy aides, but to this day, when I catch sight of a pair of striped winceyette bottoms, I can hardly resist knotting them and throwing them in some water… However, a confused memory was of the BBC childrens’ offering, ‘Bananas in Pyjamas’ - a poor attempt at alliteration, but it was popular, I think, just not with me, even if the joke did sustain longer than many provided by the weekly ‘Wheeltappers and Shunters Club’ - a scary memory, for which help and support has been sought.

Music-hall careers have been created, just by the use of the old ‘don’t open door in your pyjama’ routine.This, of course, developed on to be the root of most Ealing comedy films of the 1950s and 60s, when most of the post-war adult population were recovering from their experiences and would have probably laughed at cabbage, should it have been the only thing on offer….but those were the good old days…?

Penultimately, the best connected PJ item of all…..I have yet to hear an honest opinion of any current radio presenter who mourns the innovation of ‘multi-media platforms’...gone are the days when you could turn up to work in anything shoddy, hair in curlers, face-cream, no makeup and/or panda eyes (or, in my case, normal day in teaching)... as now you are on mini-tv, no longer a voice-only entity…..and finally...why, oh why, in most detective dramas, do the women ALWAYS venture to investigate a noise, in the middle of the night, in a moonlit garden, in their nightwear...often PJs, if running is required (as it so often is)? Sure, we have probably ALL taken a cautious mooch around the house at one time, but do you know anyone who actually then exited the property, probably in the teeth of a storm, (just to add to the drama), in bare feet, to look in a spooky tool-shed - in their PJs?....if I had to do this, I would return to the house, at least don my wellies and take an umbrella (doubles up as a weapon of self-defence) and then (because this is reality), NOT be surprised if I found something?

The best, and final, final PJ connection - the freelancer….who does not know of some representative of that strange, work-at-home fraternity, who has not spent all day in their PJs, pretending that ‘it helps them to think’...?....I missed the opportunity, and did not have the courage to attempt that one at my former university post - I was always urging my students to think - think about their essay-planning, think about their reading choices, their approach to their studies….damn and blast...if only I had suggested PJs, I could have raised the average level of examination pass-rate?...Ssssh, don’t tell HM Treasury, or OFSTED otherwise they’ll add it into the next round of funding formulae…..

Monday, 1 August 2016    Section: General Articles    Author: Julia Moore
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