I’ M thinking deeply and seriously about taking to my pyjamas. Permanently, I mean. I have in mind a trip to the department store to buy myself about a dozen pairs. These should see me through. Think of all the time this would save. Not to mention money. Also it would save you lying in bed in the early hours worrying about what clothes to wear that don’t need ironing. And I’m old enough to do what I like and can eschew the thought of frocks and smart pants.
This inspiration came to me when I was standing in the bank. I noticed that the woman in front of me — much younger than me and therefore not licensed to dress down — was busily arguing with the teller while wearing her night clothes. Pyjamas! And slippers! Pink ones at that. A look of extreme jealousy passed over my grumpy face.
I needed to join the club and with this in mind rushed round to the bedclothes department of a nearby store. There was a huge choice of tops and bottoms in materials from silk to cotton, and the design du jour is, apparently, wild animal patterns. I pictured myself wandering the suburbs wearing a pair of striped pyjamas and having passersby nudging each other, saying: ‘‘ Is that a zebra crossing?’’
It would be lovely, I should think, to bond with a wild animal. Fairly recently I met a woman named Shirley Richardson; she was with us on that trip, which I wrote about here, we took to get to know the polar bears in Canada. She wore wild pyjamas every day. Admittedly it was well below freezing so we were all well covered during the day, but I was envious in the evenings around the campfire, where she lounged all ready for bed. I wondered how her involvement with animals came about; this was her millionth visit to the bears. Why?
I emailed her and she replied she was a proud keeper at the Los Angeles zoo. She has been there for almost 30 years and is at present taking care of orang-utans, chimpanzees and gorillas. She’s had many dealings with elephants and zebras, to name but a few, and to show her passion for these creatures she dresses as if she were one of them. She travels the world observing animals in their wild habitat and likes to compare the differences between animals in the wild and the ones in captivity. She says she has formed a true bond with the animals she is in contact with at the LA zoo.
All this is very well and I am sure she has an exciting life, but on closer consideration I really don’t want to get that close to a hungry lion or, for that matter, a hippopotamus — the animal that kills more animals that any other in Africa.
I’ll stick to wearing copies of their skins.
Of course I’m on the horns of a dilemma, thinking about this life change and its potential downside. Would I perhaps become a figure of mirth and derision?
It probably wouldn’t go down well to arrive at work dressed for sleep. Most people here are younger than my children, so I think the consensus would be it was time I was taken to the old age home before I made a complete idiot of myself.
They are too young to remember how pyjamas liberated a generation of women. In my youth it was completely frowned on to wear trousers to work; according to popular belief we were just trying to be men. And in bed we wore nightdresses or, as they were known, negligees.
These garments were nightmareinducing. Unless you were a neat and tidy sleeper you’d wake in the goblin hours with your nightie wound around your head, in great danger of being suffocated.
If my memory serves me well, which is unusual these days, some time in the naughty 60s we had a penchant for going to pyjama parties. It may sound exciting, but it wasn’t really. The highlight of these dos was walking around smoking multi-coloured skinny cigars from holders so long you were never out of the danger of having your hair singed from the other side of the room.
The more I think about these mad times, the more I lose passion for the pyjama idea. My children would be embarrassed beyond imagination and my husband would be out the front door like a windstorm.
I still think of the attractive young woman who was drawing money and signing cheques with aplomb and style while in her jim-jams. But me dressing like that? I wouldn’t bank on it.