Yesterday, I saw a friend who had just bought some underwear for her teenage daughter's Christmas present. Even the package was exciting. A lovely red and white striped parcel trimmed with white fur and a red ribbon. She carefully unwrapped it to show it to me, layers of tissue paper and then a beautiful pink satin and lace-trimmed underwear set.
This took me straight back to my early teenage years. Now, the shops are full of pretty affordable lingerie. Even new-born babies can have lacy tights. We had sensible socks and shoes until we were about 13.The lovely family, next door, from Stoke-on Trent had a daughter a couple of years older than me. I was still hanging upside down from trees and had scabby knees, while she was gliding elegantly along the street wearing stockings and black patent shoes. I looked longingly at them, and eventually persuaded my Mum to buy me my first pair of stockings and a pretty pale blue suspender belt.
I am showing my age here, because tights had not yet come onto the market.
They soon did, however, but I did miss my suspender belt.
One of my favourite episodes of "Father Ted" was when the priests got locked in the Lingerie department at Christmas time. "What do women do with all this lingerie? " he says" Just look at themselves in the mirror?". Well, yes, I suppose we do. Not in a vain way, just a reassuring one. Underwear is usually much prettier than the clothes on top. It can cheer you up no end to think that you are wearing pretty underwear. My Dad always used to wear bright red or yellow braces to funerals. Just the thought of them under his sombre suit gave him courage.
One wonderful memory I have of my dear, old Dad is when my daughter was a baby. We had gone on holiday together. He re-named himself "Helga" as he took on as many duties as he could. He pushed the pram around while I scoffed enormous "EisKaffee". He kept watch while I breast-fed on the beach. While languishing on the bed cuddling a baby, he suddenly held up a pair of frilly knickers (from the pile of clean washing). He waved them around, "Never forget this part of a marriage", he said.
Actually, I' ve just thought that my sons might not really appreciate this post.
But to all you chaps who are stuck for present ideas , there is nothing quite like the thrill of carefully opening a pretty package wrapped in tissue paper.