Our nocturnal history.

Strange horizontal habits.

Oddly enough, in the evening there is that same reluctance but in reverse to return back to the horizontal position. It must be sheer laziness to get changed. I often wonder about the ritual of changing uniforms just in order to close eyes and have a nocturnal rest. Surely our eyes don’t depend on a change of clothes in order to sleep. The word pyjama comes from the Persian word پايجامه (Peyjama meaning “leg garment”), and was incorporated into the English language during British Raj through the Hindustani which was the progenitor language of modern-day Urdu and Hindi.

Apparently the pajama or pyjama originally was just a loose fitting garment with a draw string at the front, worn by both sexes and used during the day as well as during the night. When they speak of the ‘good old times’, I do sympathize with at least that very sensible and handy mode of dressing. Can you imagine just sauntering into your boudoir, lie down and sleep soundly, without the tediousness of undressing one mode of fashion and then dress up again into the other one? It is strange, especially considering it will be dark and no one can see you.

I have always felt a reluctance to get undressed and then dressed again just in order to go horizontal. I am only having these thoughts because of my previous few words about how so many mattresses end up on the street. There is obviously something going on in our cultures related to sleep or other activities that calls for horizontal positions. In the past everything was so much more sensible but nowadays all is geared towards consumption. We do not re-use bottles or nappies for instance. We use things once and then chuck it. Perhaps that’s how it has become with mattresses. After every move or new partner we just chuck out the old one and buy another mattress.

In those olden times and especially in cultures more sensible than ours, pajamas were often worn as comfort wear with bare feet and sometimes without underwear allowing all to be aired and swing around free range. Even more sensible was that those garments became fashionable statements and even today, especially in China, it is not unusual to see, in the afternoon and evening, entire families wearing their pajamas in public going shopping, dining out etc.

Of course, in censorious UK, the Tesco supermarket started to ban pajama clad families from shopping and a local Dublin branch of the Department of social security also banned pajamas. It was just not regarded proper attire when attending the offices of ‘social welfare’ for family assistance.

This all brings me back to one of our own social habits now steeped in distant history. It was the phenomenon of the ‘curler habits’. Do we still remember those days whereby everyone, especially women, used to wear curlers before going to bed? They were plastic rollers that hair used to be wound around and the many protrusions on those rollers made sure the hair remained tight. A plastic bag would then be placed around the head and plugged into electricity which resulted in hot air being blown around inside the bag and around the many rollers and hair.  Love making was strictly verboten while the hair was subjected to this hot air treatment and many a husband would get the message when the ‘curlers came out’. On the way to the Locomotive Work Shop, next morning, Bernie would ask Ernie; ‘did you get any last night?’ ‘No, curler night’ was the curt answer as he heaved a big sigh.

It was a bitter historical period much better forgotten


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4 Responses to “Our nocturnal history.”

  1. Elisabeth Says:

    A wonderful collection of fascinating information here, Gerard. I had not known the origins of the word pyjamas and now I know, it puts a whole new spin on undressing for bed. The older I get the more I resent the process of getting vertical and then having to dress. I also have strong memories of disliking the process when my children were babies. I often let them stay in the same outfit night and day. Perhaps it’s to do with hygiene this need to be in and out of clothes, but I reckon you’re right: we change so often to feed consumerism.


  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you for your kind comment. You are right. We are over concerned with hygiene and bleach and clean, wipe all our natural resistence to infections away. On top of that too many prescriptions for antibiotics. I know some that shower twice a day,yuk.
    Bring back our pheromones is my motto.


  3. lonia scholvinck Says:

    BIG SMILE!!!


  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    Nice to make you smile.


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