Monday 14 October 2019

Roddy Doyle's Charlie Savage: 'Pajamas are a bit sinister. Like slippers. Put on a pair of slippers and your life is more or less over'


Illustration by Ben Hickey
Illustration by Ben Hickey
Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle

I'm wearing pajamas. That's not a very spectacular or arresting statement - until I add three words. I'm wearing pajamas in the local. It's not a dream. I wish to God it was. That would be great, to be nudged awake, rescued by the wife's big toe or elbow. To wake up gasping, at home in the bed, and not here - wide awake, fully conscious - in the boozer.

I'm not a big fan of pajamas. One of my brothers, Denis, tried to strangle me - to garrotte me - with one of the legs of my pajamas, after we'd all been watching a Mafia film. We were still in the Mafia going up to bed - if that makes sense. And Denis, with no justification whatsoever, decided that I was a stool pigeon and that I'd been talking to the Feds. He didn't have piano wire handy in the bedroom, so he'd grabbed my pajama bottoms to do the job instead. Luckily, he got bored just before I died.


Pajamas are a bit sinister. Like slippers. Put on a pair of slippers and your life is more or less over. I've always thought that - or did, until one of the grandkids gave me a pair for Christmas.

And it's the same with pajamas. If you have to put on a weird suit before getting into bed, you might as well just stroll down to the funeral home and climb into the nearest coffin.

That's probably a bit harsh but I want to make myself clear: I don't like pajamas. But here I am, taking off my jacket and revealing to the world - well, the five other punters in the shop - that it's not just my trousers that are stripey (pink and blue stripes, by the way) but I'm wearing the full top and bottom combo. I'm the oul' lad in the striped pajamas.


It's a protest. It's actually the daughter's protest. Her protest, my pajamas.

Eh - why?

I'm blaming Joe Duffy. I'm blaming myself. I'm not blaming the daughter.

Let me explain. Before I do that, I bet you're asking: if he hates pajamas that much, how come he had a pair to put on before he departed for his local hostelry?

They're my hospital pajamas. Pregnant women always have a bag ready for when the contractions start. Men my age have a pair of pajamas ready for when the contractions stop. I had to go into hospital for a day a few years back, and I had to buy the pajamas. So they were there already, in a drawer in the bedroom, waiting. Smiling up at me every time I open the drawer. We knew you'd be back.

Anyway. The daughter was in the kitchen when Joe Duffy was on. That's not earth-shattering news. She's often there at that time if she's not working, because we collect the little grandson from school - the highpoint of any day. He loves school, absolutely loves it. His teacher, who looks about 15, says he's a dote, which I've taken to mean he's a genius. Anyway, the daughter came in to collect him at the exact same time that I shouted at the radio.

- Leave them alone, for Jaysis sake!

There were people phoning up Joe, giving out about women wearing pajamas in public. I'm on record: I don't like pajamas. But I have this one basic, hard-learnt rule: let the women do anything they want. If you want the world to keep turning, leave it to the women.

I've known a fair few women who've worn their pajamas out their front doors, either deliberately, as a fashion statement, or because they didn't have the time or inclination to get dressed. And it's their own bloody business. This applies only to women, by the way. If you see a man in pajamas, call the Guards.

Which brings it back to me, the king of the gobs***es, sitting in my jammies, ordering a pint. The pajamas don't have pockets. I swear to God, I have my beer money in a small purse that I've pinned to the inside of the bottoms. I don't know how I'm going to pay for my round without embarrassing myself even more.

- D'you know what it is? I said, in the kitchen. - It's class. The objection to girls wearing pajamas, it's just snobbery.

I admit it: I like to say the right thing in front of the daughter. I try to impress her. Actually, I try to keep up with her. But I believe this one: it's snobbery, it's class prejudice.

She hasn't spoken.

- I've a good mind to go down to the boozer in my own pajamas, I say. - As a show of solidarity.

And here I am.

And the most humiliating thing about it: no one's noticed.

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