Friday, January 25, 2008

The Sagging Gusset Of Mr Jeremy Paxman Was A Distraction On Newsnight, But The Newscaster Is Not Alone In His Discomfiture


It is with a degree of shame and guilt that I admit this: I have spent much of the week in anguished contemplation of Mr Jeremy Paxman's unmentionables. Mr Paxman - so often the voice of irascible unreason on BBC2's Newsnight - made an important contribution to the national debate when he criticised the quality of the undergarments and socks at Marks and Spencer's. I may be paraphrasing slightly - or possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder - but Mr Paxman's ventures into M&S have led to a sagging gusset, and a protruding big toe (NB: this is not a metaphor). No wonder he often looks as if he is chewing a wasp.
Mr Paxman has my sympathies. For years now, my unmentionables have been imperilled by the quality of intimate tailoring at this high street institution. The men's underwear department has always been a disagreeable place, rather like a painting of a rummage sale by Mrs Beryl Cook. The customers are mostly women, tugging and pawing at the Y-Fronts, while stray male customers hover in embarrassed clusters by the slip-on shoes. Sometimes these women will have their husbands in attendance, as if attached by an invisible leash, and the conversation will run along these lines: "These are the ones you like, aren't they?" A pair of briefs similar to the trunks worn by Mr Mark Spitz in the 1972 Olympic Games will be held aloft. "Naw. I mean... aye."
In recent years, men's unmentionables have attracted the attention of the fashion industry, with disastrous results. It is no longer enough to give a gentleman the choice between Y-Fronts and boxer shorts. Now, these garments come in all manner of space age fabrics, and in shapes that have not been seen since the demise of the wrestling on World Of Sport. I still suffer twangs of distress from the "Wonderpants" I was asked to "road-test" for Scotland's Notional Newspaper some years ago. These were made from a stretch fabric which appeared to include no natural fibres, and were designed to "shape and enhance" a gentleman's undercarriage. Now, decency prohibits me from commenting in detail on this concept, but I found it offensive and misguided. I have spent a lifetime avoiding situations in which I might be seen in my underwear, and I see no reason to change. Admittedly, on my rare forays into the swimming baths, I have seen things that would have frightened Colonel Kurtz - Edinburgh's Commonwealth Pool is particularly bad for this - but it was obvious immediately that I was not, and would never be, a Wonderpants man.
Aside from the discomfort, I could not abide the suggestion that my moleskins were, at any moment, about to ignite.

5 comments:

David Duff said...

You will be relieved to know that I have little to add to the underpants 'Shlock-Horror', except to warn those like me who are 'Y-front men' to take a care as to how you put them on. A few weeks ago I was caught short in our High Street and, of course, there being no such thing as a public lavatory these days, I sidled into a department store and moving as quickly as I dared to their loo, I arrived with a sigh of relief and expectation only to find it impossible to gain entrance to my damned underpants. With my legs crossed twice over and my eyeballs standing forth like a terrier's bollocks as I fought to remain continent, I realised that I had put the damned things on inside out! I just made it in time but, to quote the dear old 'Duke of Boot', "It was damned fine run thing, the finest thing you ever saw."

However, on socks, the Paxman has it dead right. They're rubbish these days!

Kirk Elder said...

Mr Duff, your candour does you great credit! You have my sincere commiserations.

Will said...

Perhaps Mr Paxman's quandary would be solved not by complaining to his current vendor but by exercising his rights as a consumer in a free market, and head elsewhere.

A trip to discount stores along the line of 'QS', or even the clothing departments of most major supermarkets, will yield underthings which are comfortable, durable and far more economical.

And Mr. Paxman should not rule out a trip to Tesco for his smalls: figures of a similar prominence to his own in the national psyche have been quite happy to lend their voices to the chain's advertising campaigns.

Indeed, transferring his allegiance to the chain might give him access to further employ (as a nationwide underwear salesman), when the inevitable happens and the BBC fire him, with a view to placing Miss Alesha Dixon behind the Newsnight desk.

Boxer Briefs said...

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Anonymous said...

When Marks & Spencer was run as a family firm by Mr Paxman's Semitic racial cognates it was a very well managed firm which boasted a 'buy British' policy. Since the time the descendants of the founding Marks family ceded power to indigenous British executives this 'buy British' policy has gone by the board (unworthy pun intended). Nowadays, in the matter of undergarments,there seems to be a Hobson's choice between 'going commando' or buying a China made article (possibly manufactured, in a Chinese military-owned factory, by commandos).