Let's all wear pyjamas in public

JANE BOWRON
Last updated 08:10 26/11/2012

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Jane Bowron

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OPINION: We were walking along Durham St North in broad daylight when we spotted a sartorially shambolic figure approaching.

She was barefoot and I hazarded a guess that she was in her mid-20s.

She was dressed in a grey tracksuit top, bright pink pyjama bottoms and was clutching a $10 note in one hand. We asked her if she was OK, scrutinising her features to see if she was intellectually challenged and found her to be as bright as a button and only too happy to divulge why she was wearing her jammies.

She had just been jettisoned from the courts, a mere stone's throw away up the road, and was making her way to the bus depot. Obviously, at the time of her arrest she did not have, or was not given the time to, change out of her night attire, hence her out-of-time apparel.

No handbag, no pockets, she was the epitome of vulnerability and I wondered why it hadn't occurred to court officials or her lawyer to get the police to give the young woman a ride home to save her the embarrassment.

Perhaps it was all part of the rough-justice punishment, but it seemed wantonly cruel, whatever her crime was, to make her stand out like a sore thumb and perhaps attract the unwelcome attention of malevolent predatory males and cause another crime. Somebody had thought to give her the tenner though, which was heartening.

I imagined her walking her way through the high-end shopping area of the Re:Start Cashel St Mall towards the bus depot and encountering an avalanche of raised eyebrows.

However, she seemed a plucky sort with enough bottle to fend off the most disapproving of glances.

I wished I'd had the car as she assured us she was tickety-boo and set off, her unshod feet gingerly navigating the rubble of the footpath.

The things you see when you're on the hoof.

People dressed in pyjamas are a common enough sight at supermarkets and dairies, and I have often wished I was relaxed enough to do it myself. However, I strongly suspect that if I did my worst enemy would walk in and find me dishabille and give me a dressing down in my dressing gown.

Chance would be a fine thing, if only there was a dairy to stage such a stunt in.

I do very much miss having the dairy over the road, which hasn't reinvented itself and returned since the quake. When you're self-employed and work from home procrastination is a constant companion and nipping over to the dairy for an ice block was a welcome distraction.

It wasn't your common or garden run-of-the-mill dairy, sporting hordes of very green bananas, and the chap behind the counter never gave you more than a ghost of a smile. Neighbours would make it their mission to get a grin off him, but I knew he was a lost cause, that there was no sun in that dial.

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Some people only have a few smiles in them, while others seem to have theirs stitched on like a politician. It must be a tough gig running a dairy and having to be on your feet and be "on", as it were, for hours on end, but a bit of banter, an attempt at a witty riposte does put a skip in the step.

There was this Lebanese dairy owner in Sydney who often made my day by asking me about myself in the third person - "How is she today?" - in a tone that would imply that she was a particularly tricky and difficult customer, and I would reply that "she couldn't grumble but often did", and on it would go.

It's such a bore having to go through the whole palaver of a supermarket when you just want a couple of things. I have often thought of opening up a drive-in convenience store for just the basics - cat food, bread, milk, toilet paper, tea, coffee, cigarettes and smoking jackets.

That idea is on the backburner along with an entrepreneurial revolutionary idea for foetus-shaped coffins. I mean why do we, when we quit the coil, have to be laid out straight? Wouldn't it be more fitting to be dispatched as we were hatched, curled up in the womb to one side?

It will never catch on, death has a lot of conformity to it, but I can't talk - here I am banging on and making a meal of a woman wandering round in her pyjamas as if I'd just seen a unicorn wearing blue eye shadow and whistling Dixie.

We should all do it, take to the streets in our nighties and slippers as a form of protest that the electorate has been asleep but is now waking up to the city's chronic democracy deficit.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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