Tuesday, 15 October 2013


I haven't worn Pyjamas for many a year. I am not entirely sure why, or when, I decided to stop wearing them, but in my mind I have had for many years the perception that pyjamas are either for kids or old people, and not for people in the middle like me.

Either I am becoming an old person, which to be fair, we are all edging towards grimly and inevitably, or my earlier perceptions were wrong and wearing pyjamas is actually OK. Whichever it is, during these colder and darker autumn evenings, suddenly the idea of wearing proper pyjamas rather than just a normal t-shirt and boxers has started to appeal again.

I rather urgently needed to get some new trousers for the rapidly growing Jamie. So, with Lynda and Claire taking over the kitchen for the day to work on a wedding cake for which the deadline is just four days away, I decided to take myself off to Oxford for the morning on the bus to obtain the required trousers and investigate the world of modern pyjamas.

Back in the day, as far as I was aware there were only two types of pyjama. The soft button/ collar free type favoured by children, or the rather more formal collar and button (what I consider to be boring) cotton type as sold in M&S and such places.

Old Man Pyjamas as modelled by Eric.

The picture above sums it up nicely. Ernie's outfit is a bit more with it though. It got me thinking to what some of my "characters" that I developed in my book Austerity Dad might wear in bed. I imagine Lord Bicester would like to lounge about the place in something like this when he's at home "entertaining" a young lady.

The sort of thing Lord Bicester would wear to seduce the ladies!

So, off I went in to Oxford to peruse the pyjama offerings. I decided to go first thing this morning, figuring that with it being Tuesday and early, it would be nice and quiet in Oxford and that is exactly how it turned out which is good because I cannot stand shopping in crowds. I hopped off the bus and headed straight for the Covered Market where I picked up my copy of The Times at the student discount price - they still believe me when I say I am a student. I had a quick browse around a couple of the Butchers in the market, paying particular attention to the sausages because I take my new role as "The Sausage Man" very seriously, you know.

I then found a lovely little French Cafe where I had a nice big filter coffee and large Pain Au Chocolat for the very reasonable price of £3.30 in total, considering this was Oxford City centre and read the paper for a while. Then the Pyjama quest began.

I went to M&S first as a good point to do my research. It seems that the traditional types of pyjamas are still very much in evidence, however, there has been a growth in less formal types - rather than the Eric Morecambe collared variety, there are lots which are basically T-shirt + shorts, or long sleeves plus trousers, in whichever combination you prefer. M&S being what it is though, as usual I felt the range was rather dull and also expensive.

I went to Primark at the other end of the scale - didn't fancy their stuff much either. Whilst they are very handy for some things, they are not for others. I picked up another pair of jeans there as my latest pair has malfunctioned rather badly - the zip managed to stick in the down position whilst I was working in the pub on Sunday night, the latest of many such trouser mis-haps to befall me there. Fortunately I managed to cover up this latest malfunction. I also had to get a new belt as my current one has finally given up the unequal battle against my girth. But the pyjamas there looked cheap and nasty.

Also on display in Primark were several of these absolutely ridiculous "Onesie" things that seem to have become the flavour of the month (for about five minutes probably). For the uninitiated these are basically like the sleep suits that babies have, but for adults. Quite why anyone would think there was a market for grown adults dressing like babies is beyond me, but it seems there is. Anyway, Primark has a novelty range of these things, and quite frankly I would be amazed if any grown would every consider wearing such a thing, but I suppose someone must somewhere! If you know anyone that does please write and tell me!

If you or anyone you know wears these, please write in!

One thing I noticed on looking at these was that they do not have an opening in, well for want of a better word, the crotch area. Hardly convenient is it. Every time you go for a slash during the night you've got to unzip and pull the whole thing down. It's hard enough bleary eyed at 3am finding your way to the toilet and getting your bits pointing roughly in the right direction without all that aggravation. Reminds me of that time when Sarah got me to wear an inflatable Santa Suit in order to DJ at the Boxing Day karaoke at the White Hart. Every time I needed the toilet during the evening (which was a lot). I had to take Drew with me to unzip me and help me out, which wasn't ideal for me, and even less so for him I would imagine.

The lack of a "slit" also renders other potential bedtime activity problematical. That's assuming there would be any, as I cannot imagine why any woman would particularly want to leap on her husband with him wearing such a thing, though I am sure my good friend Dogger would probably be able to tell you otherwise. A quick straw poll of one (one of the mum's in the school playground) confirms my hypothesis though. Not exactly sexy - or convenient come to that.

So Primark was no good, so I headed off to my old favourite, Next, always a good standby for quality and value and lo and behold I found the perfect pair. They ticked all the boxes, the colour was right, the size was right (XL), the bottoms were right, I wanted long trousers, not shorts, and the sleeves were right too - short sleeves. I hate long sleeves and always have. I hate the feelings of my arms being covered indoors. Back in my office days I only ever wore short sleeved shirts at work.

They were £18 - reasonably priced and exactly half way in price between the M&S ones (£26) and Primark ones (£10). So off I went to the till all ready to make a purchase and then I ran into a problem.

The till refused to scan the barcode. So the assistant tried to enter it manually, but it wasn't having it. A classic case of "computer says no". The manager was called over and after much messing about she concluded that the item had been discontinued and they could no longer sell it. To me, this is absolutely ludicrous. I had the £18 in my hand, they had the pyjamas in their hand, I said, "look, here is the cash, don't worry about the receipt, it is what I want, just take it". But no - it was not allowed. She then got a catalogue out and started trying to get me to pick something else, but I wanted those ones. She said there might be some more similar and went off to look.

My dream pyjamas - which I was destined never to dream in.

Eventually (after about 10 minutes) she re-appeared, with a very similar pair but with shorts, not long trousers. And another pair with slightly different colours, but this pair was £26. I politely declined at this point and left - there is no way I am going to pay an extra 8 quid just because the shop is refusing to sell me the thing I want which is right in front of me.

We hear all the time the endless arguments about High Street vs Internet. Usual arguments are over price or customer service. We are led to believe that it is OK to spend a few quid more in the High Street because we get the "service", well I certainly didn't on this occasion. An absolutely ridiculous state of affairs where Next lost an £18 sale due to their complete inflexibility. I always used to sing their praises in the past, but will think twice before shopping there again, and in fact all this experience has done has made me more likely to do my shopping online next time and avoid all the hassle.

Thankfully the story had a happy ending as in the end I managed to get some reasonable pyjamas from BHS at a reasonable price, so it wasn't a wasted journey. I would still have preferred to have had the Next ones though.

I rounded off my trip with a spot of lunch at KFC where I was lucky enough to get one of the two downstairs tables. I had that old favourite, the Chicken Fillet Burger, though I swear they have got a lot smaller since I first started eating there back in the 80s. Some might say it is more a case that I have got larger. Like with many things in life, I suspect the truth to be somewhere in the middle.

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