Saturday 24 August 2013


This blogger has been AWOL for a bit.  I’ve been concentrating on creative projects, indulging the summer sunshine, and generating more work.  By work, I mean paid work, as writers never stop writing any more than actor/singers stop preparing to perform.  My efforts seem to be paying off, for suddenly lots of stuff is coming in at once and I’m juggling.  That’s so typical, feast or famine, like buses and boyfriends.

As I prepare to gear up for a stimulating few months I’ve been rushing around getting odd jobs out of the way.  I’ve even caught up with my washing, which one must do when there are more clothes in the laundry-basket than hanging in the wardrobe.  Consequently I was standing in the courtyard adjacent to my apartment recently and my thoughts progressed through three related ideas.

First I heard the voice of my dear Mother, who, when doing my washing on occasion, will reliably say: “I don’t know how you wear these stupid things.  Aren’t they uncomfortable?”   She is referring to my G-strings which she believes are too skimpy.  For some silly reason Poms and Yanks call G-strings ‘thongs’ which causes confusion for Aussies when talking about the things on our feet… but I digress. 

My second thought: “I love having a real clothes-line.  Fabrics dry so much nicer in the sun.  I hate it when stuff is hanging around the house like a Laundromat, it’s claustrophobic.” 

Then finally: “OMG my knickers are a disgrace!”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a sad and sorry result of an unusually long period of no income.  I won’t say ‘unemployment’ as strictly speaking artistes call it ‘resting’ which is ironic as often one spends more time, energy and angst trying to get a gig than when one actually has one.

The Degradation of Underwear is an undisclosed and traumatic side-effect of the global recession.  I don’t know why I haven’t heard about it on the BBC?

People who are unemployed - or under-employed which is just as common - manage all sorts of house-hold expenses with creativity and perseverance.  One doesn’t mind saying to one’s friends “please, can we go to a restaurant which is less pricey” or “no, I can’t afford to go sailing this summer” (damn it)… but as the weeks tick by one doesn’t notice how gradually one’s undergarments are deteriorating.  It’s a sinister reduction in one’s standards which clearly any self-respecting woman remains in denial about for as long as possible.  But when the THUD arrives it is a shock equal to walking into a nightclub bathroom to discover mascara half-way down your face and lettuce in your teeth.  

When a girl is stretching the pound (or dollar) she will go without food rather than go without face cream and a hairdresser.  But the loss of status in her nether regions insidiously progresses until such time as she’s standing at the clothes-line aghast:  “Seriously it’s just as well I don’t have a boyfriend at the moment... or have time to get one… for these knickers are not fit to be seen!”  I am embarrassed even to hang them on the line, though thankful at least the courtyard is not visible to the street which means only three apartments will learn this shameful fact about me. 

Of course I do have the emergency stash – a pair of bra and panties which are new and sexy.  I’ve been saving them for a special occasion.   But little did I know when I bought them months ago that: a) it’d be so long before I went sexy underwear shopping again; or b) they would lie neglected at the back of the drawer. 

At any rate, I’m not talking about special knickers for a hot date.  I’m talking about day-to-day standards of dress.  This is a serious confession but the exposure goes beyond embarrassing.  It is a frightening dimension of the international economic crisis and a matter of significant concern for those suffering the worst of its impact – the underemployed freelancer, the unemployed, and God knows probably the small business owner.  Hitherto, pottering along in ignorant bliss, I had not realized this collective scandal was being so comprehensively hushed up. 

I suppose the Degradation of Underwear is like mental illness – no-one knows what to do about it and it’s delicate to discuss.  While still at the clothesline I ponder on the cruelty of the rising cost of living when wages and benefits are effectively going down.  I don’t personally blame Prime Minister Cameron and his colleagues for the state of my underwear drawer, of course, though there might be some greedy bankers who are indirectly responsible.  I feel sympathetic to the people who do not have work on the horizon as I do, and genuinely alarmed to realize crowds of people across Europe and God-knows-where are walking around in atrociously poor undergarments. 

I mean, imagine?  Oh dear, maybe not!

Reverting to an academic rather than visual approach, I begin to wonder whether this phenomenon is taken into account by the clever numbers-people who work out indexes for comparative living-standards?   Economists and statisticians talk a lot about the affordability of utilities (rightly so in a cold climate) but even in a general ‘cost of clothing’ analysis are they making suitable provision for the important ingredients which round up all our bits and point them in the right direction?

In an instant I have decided that if I have to endure any future periods of unemployment I will simply go without.  I’d rather be an anarchist or a flasher than assault my self-esteem by going around with faded, loose, daggy, saggy bras and knickers a minute longer.  Good God, as if getting older weren’t bad enough.

Given I will soon have means to pay attention to my credit card, the next thing on my agenda is a shopping spree to M & S or  Victoria’s Secret or some other refined establishment which I’m sure to find on Google or the High Street.  I’ve talked in my blog before about a girl feeling so much more confident when she’s having a good hair day, but realize the state of my knickers has an equally strong impact on my sense of empowerment.

At any rate, my neighbours will see evidence of the increase in my good fortune.  That helps with the shame.