Is there anything so blissful as a good sleep? You snuggle under the duvet, revert to the foetal position and attempt to bury yourself in a wonderful world of warmth and wellbeing. Before long you’re in a land far, far away and the only signs of life are the contented grunts and snorts of a person taking full advantage of one of the finest pursuits available to mankind. However this picture of tranquillity is eventually broken up the by the invasive sounds of another day stirring into action and with it you awake from your slumber feeling refreshed and ready for what the day may bring. Once you’ve extracted your face from the pillow and casually wiped the drool from the corners of your mouth you contemplate the day ahead before arising to a cacophony of yawns, groans and creaking bones. You check the post and make a quick visit to the lavatory before heading out into the world at large. Just another day right? Except you’ve forgotten one major part of the natural, or at least what used to be the natural, daily routine. Some bloody clothes perhaps, you fuckin slob!
The decision by those at the Damastown Social Welfare Office in Dublin to ban the wearing of pyjamas by those attending interviews was met with much mirth across the country. Most welcomed the ruling but as ever there was a rumbling undercurrent of discord. Those opposing the decision claimed that it effectively labelled the unemployed as unkempt layabouts and was ignorant to the plight of single mothers around the country. But in truth there couldn’t possibly be any viable argument in opposition to the ruling. Pyjamas are for sleeping in and that’s all there is to it. You wouldn’t turn up to your place of work wearing your jim jams (unless you worked as a bed tester in a furniture store obviously) so why should you be allowed to attend an interview designed to help you attain work in such inappropriate attire. But aside from the issue regarding the association of the unemployed with the inability to dress themselves of a morning and all the negative connotations that brings there is a wider topic highlighted by this story.
The gradual ‘dressing down’ of society has arguably reached its nadir in recent years. Ladies dressed in the aforementioned nightwear flanked by gents head to toe in Umbro has become the norm and visitors to our country must marvel at all the dedicated women rising from their sickbeds to escort their sporting partners home after a straining session at the gym. Indeed upon speaking to a newcomer to our shores she was under the impression that some type of ‘sports day’ was in effect on her first day in the country. When she noted that tracksuits were still the de rigueur an entire week later she wondered just why Ireland performed with such consistent despair at the Olympics every four years. Eventually someone informed her that the Irish weren’t sports fanatics like she had previously thought, we just like being comfy.
It was the increasingly popularity of sportswear that summoned the change in how we dress. Previously the sole preserve of football hooligans who championed the ‘casual’ look the tracksuit eventually found its way into the public at large and with it consigned entire stockpiles of trousers to the deathly depths of our wardrobes. But rather than adopt the stylish Fila, Elesse or Sergio Tacchini labels worn by those fisticuff loving ne’er do wells the public went with the most garish and tasteless shell suits imaginable.“This is nice”, we thought to ourselves as we marvelled at the extra room with which to manoeuvre. No more endless adjusting of uncomfortable corduroys for us as we revelled in this new airy existence. That we looked like techni-colour hobos was of little concern to any.
But how did we allow ourselves to become such scruffs? I occasionally wear the odd tracksuit or hoody myself so I’m not going to attempt to condemn all those who wear such attire. But unlike some people I have modicum of self respect and will usually take into account the fact that other living beings are likely to see me before heading into the public domain dressed like an unused substitute at Lansdowne Road. I know I may be in the minority but for the most part these kind of clothes should only be worn when working up a sweat during any manner of physical exertion or perversely when slobbing around the house doing very little. Tracksuits and hoodies are one thing, they may be the least stylish items of clothing known to man but at least they’re intended for outdoor wear. Pyjamas on the other hand.
Like the death of JFK or the World Trade Centre attacks we all remember where we were the first time we saw someone wearing pyjamas in public. I was in Aldi (where else?), circa 2009, sometime in the early evening. The steady stream of shoppers looking for quick and easy dinner items was starting to die down when I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. At first I thought it was a pair of clowns looking to stock up on cream cakes before their shift at the circus. But despite sporting quite scary face paint these two appeared to be just normal citizens going about their shopping like everybody else. Were they escapees from the local asylum? I didn’t think they’d allow such brightly coloured nightwear in the nuthouse. Purely for the interests of research I moved a little closer with the innocent intention of perhaps hearing a snippet of their conversation. But despite my misgivings there was not one story about how they’d evaded their white coated nemeses or how itchy their heads were after that wretched frontal lobotomy. Just the usual high pitched nonsense that most young women spout and something which I have in time learned to tune out to within seconds.
As they paid for their goods and headed out into the quickly darkening evening I felt my entire faith in humanity begin to crumble. Had I really just seen two relatively sane inhabitants of Planet Earth walk into a convenience store wearing their pyjamas? Maybe I was the one going mad and this was just the start. My mind buzzed at the prospect of seeing women bedecked in increasingly sexy forms of lady nightwear. But if I was going mad then so was everyone else because upon recounting my tale to my friends and family it seemed that they too had fallen foul to those who just couldn’t wait to get ready for bed. This was incredibly confusing. When did they put on their pyjamas? Once they’d gotten home from school in anticipation of bedtime? Just before going out as some sort of skewed fashion statement? Or did they just never take them off at all? Did this mean that it was okay for me to go to Aldi wearing nothing but a pair of rather snug boxers and an old United jersey from the mid nineties? If that was the case then bring it on!.
But no, it emerged that this phenomenon only applied to those of the fairer sex and us blokes would have to make do with our boring, regular clothes when out and about. And as with most things once the initial shock had worn off we rarely batted an eyelid when encountering groups of girls apparently on their way to a slumber party at three o’clock in the afternoon. Just like we’d grown used to, and accepted, the wearing of sportswear by the most unsporty so we took this new curiosity in our stride. We couldn’t help but marvel at how these people didn’t contract frostbite during the Irish winters though. The fuckers most likely had hot water bottles stowed away under their jammy tops! As ever the continual ability of the Irish to say “Ah sure leave em alone they’re not doing anyone any harm” (usually uttered in the defence of a group of young psychopaths burning a cat to death) had won through and this new breed of casuals went about their business unhindered, and obscenely comfortable.
That was until the aforementioned case in the Social Welfare Office of Damastown. Finally some sanity has been restored. Finally someone has stopped for a second and though “Hold on now this isn’t fuckin right”! Finally Ireland is gaining a collective set of bollocks and making a stand. This is the first step towards a new Ireland, an Ireland we can be proud of. Now that these urchins can no longer sign on wearing their nightly best maybe we can drag ourselves out of this seemingly unending stream of shit that we find ourselves in! Okay I’m most likely getting a tad carried away there and the likelihood is that visitors to Damastown will just wear long overcoats concealing their guilty pj’s, but still it’s a start. The next obvious step is to outlaw the tucking in of tracksuit pants into socks, usually white, in the manner of a latter day BA Baracus. Then perhaps we could reintroduce the wearing of braces, shoe cleaners on street corners, pocket watches, monocles, top hats, those little fluffy things which you see in.......
Without wishing to sound like someone at least 50 years my senior (which I’m told I’m prone to do) I can’t help but feel that some sections of Irish society could do with taking a look in the mirror and asking themselves could they do better. Again I’m eager to stress that I am no fashionista and there’s certainly days when some soul searching of my own could be done. But I’ve honestly lost count of the amount of times I’ve walked down a street and thought to myself “Will I give this homeless fella some spare change” before noting that he was only waiting outside a shop for his mates to come out. The advances that mankind has made over the last 100 years are incredible and there’s very little we have to be envious of when looking back at our ancestors. However if you are lucky enough to possess grainy old photos of your great grandparents, or even further back, then take a look at how they’re dressed. Chances are the men in question are standing to order in nice, trim suits befitting the occasion. And the women? I dread to even think what the consequences of getting your picture taken in your pyjamas would have been in those days.