So, if you were asked to name the one thing that age has brought to your life, what would you say? Peace? Knowledge? Understanding? Pyjamas?
Now, I am not completely new to the world of pyjama ownership. I’ve always had them for visiting and in case of hospitalization, but they only fully entered my life with my children, when attending to the early-hours needs of dependent offspring un-apparelled no longer appeared seemly. I remained, as do all dutiful fathers, firmly buttoned-up, jeaned and shirted through the sleep-over years: the fear of being caught, mid-landing, wearing anything less than full-length towelling lingers to this day. These days we have fairly regular visitors to our house: daughters, grandkids, in-laws etc. and it is quite rightly considered imperative that I am correctly attired for my nocturnal comfort breaks. Nobody wants to see me waddling off for a midnight widdle with my undercarriage down.
I am not a man who rushes home from work in order to step directly from pin-striped suit into candy-striped pyjamas. They do not figure in my day until it has become my night. My wife, however, somewhat less hidebound by sartorial convention, although not, I would argue, shame, is well disposed to diving behind the settee with a shriek of ‘You get that. I’m in my pyjamas!’ should there be a knock on the door at any point from the Six O’clock News onwards. I do not don the night attire until I feel it is the time to be night attired. I remain clothed and ready to answer the door until the nightcap has been drained and the Ten O’clock News has finished. Besides, my twilight flower-pot and hanging basket water trips would, I fear, be even less well regarded by my neighbours if I was wearing jammies. The creaking gate, the mega-watt security light and the sound of me moaning as I spill half a watering can of water down my slippers is already almost too much for them to bear.
Now, whilst I am prone to spending the night with the quilt pulled up to my chin and my entire body firmly enveloped in multiple TOG’s, my wife is currently liable to reach temperatures that are just this side of Vesuvian and, in the night, this generally manifests itself in the quilt being brusquely tossed off both of us with a ‘Tut!’ that is, I imagine, audible on Mars. The price I would have to pay for subsequently seeking some modicum of cover for myself is one I cannot afford, so pyjamas are my only salvation – especially when the windows are also thrown wide open. My night attire serves to cover up most of the available targets for the hundreds of biting invertebrates that buzz their way into the bedroom cafeteria, even in winter – ‘I’m sorry, most of the menu is off: just ears and nose available – and ankle if he’s not wearing bedsocks…’
And there are times, just around the corner, when the nights are too warm even for me, even when windows are opened, the quilt tossed aside and the T-shirt discarded. Now cometh the time of the boxer shorts. Now also, unfortunately, cometh the time of the Olympic standard nocturnal tossing and turning to which no cotton boxers are ever equal. Corkscrewed boxers are never sufficiently accommodating for a restless night. Constant readjustment leads to troubled slumbers and a vow to find a garment that is more suited to a man’s needs. Unfortunately, no such garment exists. Eventually you are left with just two options: a) put up with it or b) remove them and hope that the cat is not about when you get up in the night.
On the whole though, cooling down is not a problem for me and, consequently, long pyjama trousers are my preferred option, even though the legs do tend to end up crumpled about my thighs come the morning. What, in God’s name, urges pyjama legs to head north overnight? A genetic compulsion to head to warmer climes perhaps? A hitherto unsuspected loathing of the ankle? Perhaps it’s something they put in them up the factory: a couple of nights encased within increasingly restrictive trews sending you off to the pyjama shop first thing in the morning in order to bulk buy two dozen pairs in a larger size. Having checked, of course, that they do not have pockets. What is the point of pockets in pyjama trousers? Am I expected to take my keys to bed with me? Perhaps a pocketful of change in case I need to tip a taxi driver. Maybe, at my age, I am expected to pay the Tooth Fairy for the privilege of allowing me to keep such teeth as I have left. In my experience, unused pyjama pockets just flap around uselessly, like wings on a hippopotamus, they serve no practical purpose whatsoever.
I am only just beginning to realise how exercised I have become about my nightwear and I begin to dread what further night-attire related demons I might uncover. Can anyone tell me, for instance, how a correctly worn T-shirt manages to turn itself into a straitjacket over night? How the buttons in a pyjama top can insert themselves up your nose? How one side of a pyjama top can be the right way round whilst the other side is inside out? I can feel the neurosis seeping in. So, I think the time has come for me to let it go. It cannot be healthy for a man of my age to become so disconcerted by nightclothes. Especially as I should be saving myself for the peace, knowledge and understanding that my later years will surely bring…
If your husband has difficulty in getting to sleep, the words, ‘We need to talk about our relationship’ may help. Rita Rudner