Knickers, glorious, wondrous invention. They can be as alluring and attractive as you like or just plain ugly and frumpy. And yet, they all do the same job. They keep your bum warm. Well some do. When Mandy’s washing machine broke down, I was the first to understand, and offered her an afternoon of coffee, cake and spin cycle. It would mean we could have a girlie day, and I was so looking forward to it. What I wasn’t expecting was several plastic bags filled with Mandy’s laundry whilst she swanned off down town with her mates. There I was, left with this pile, which I started to sort out. Whites, darks, multi-colours and strings! I wasn’t too sure at first whether something had become unravelled in the bags or whether Mandy had several ties for things that had come loose. I picked up a piece and held it aloft to examine it. Pulling it apart I notice a triangle of material with three pieces of string attached that met at the same point. Using my deftly accurate unwinding skills, (you want to see me with a necklace chain that has become entangled) I pried the string into some sort of shape. It took a while but I got there and then promptly dropped the piece when I realise that it was in fact a G-string. The modern-day equivalent of what we would have called knickers.
I wasn’t sure whether to wash them, or bin them, deciding on the latter option, I took great care to count them in and then out. I mean it’s one thing to have to call the plumber out to retrieve the offending bra wire that gets stuck, but I would hate to have to explain the wearing of a piece of string.
Carefully taking the washing from the tumble dryer I pick up a now clean G-string, I mean you couldn’t even call it a pair, let alone knickers. I held them this way and that and I wandered how they were worn, I mean dare I try them, dare I. I course I did, I mean wouldn’t you. It’s not as though they weren’t going to fit and I could always put them back in the washing machine. Leaving my petite, what now seemed like over sized hipster bloomers on, I pulled the piece of string on. At first I decided that the triangle had to go to the back, after all knickers are to keep your bum warm, but that didn’t work. Then I turned them around and got the shock of my life as the string pulled my Marks and Spencer cotton briefs firmly into the crack between my buttocks. Nope, not for me, I took them off and through them into a pile with the rest. It wasn’t as though I could fold them. I then put them at the bottom of a bag and folded Mandy’s T-shirts on top.
I never mentioned the G-Strings to Mandy, but I did tell Mark, who seemed to be more aware than myself of the garment. I didn’t want to know how he knew she wore them, but he furnished me with the story of going into her flat one day and having to venture into the bedroom, where he found several pairs in a draw, when he was fixing her dresser.
“Did you try a pair on?” He asked.
“No!” I lied, “Why on Earth would I want to do that?”
This vision of Mark trying on a G-string came flashing into my mind’s eye.
“You never know,” he smiled wryly, “You might look good in them.”
I blushed, what did he mean? Honestly, I wasn’t 16 anymore, and come to that, neither was Mandy she should be in sensible knickers by now.
I remember the first time I discovered knickers. I knew I had to wear them, they were laid out every morning for me to wear, and my father insisted on asking if I had a clean pair on every time I left the house, but my first exploration of the garment as something worth looking at, was the school disco, at the prime old age of 12. Why would they be of a concern, I hear you ask? Because that was the first time I ever wore a bra.
“Don’t tell dad,” I begged my mother the day we went into Debenhams and I was officially issued with three real bras. One to wear, one to wash and one for the draw, I was told by the lady in the shop. I stick by that rule, although today I tend to have about six bras and not a one of them has matching knickers. But this afternoon, at the ripe old age of 12, I had a matching set of bra and knickers. Not just a white, blue or black pair of knickers, these were the same colour white as my bra with matching embroidery. I had “A set of Underwear.”
“Please don’t tell dad,” I had begged my mother, “he will make fun of me.”
As was the case with everything that was happening to me as I grew up, my father had a habit of taking the piss. I know it was his way of dealing with his little girl growing up, but did he have to do it in front of people?
“I won’t dear, I promise,” My mother replied.
What I hadn’t expected was the onslaught of my grandparents. As soon as Gran got in through the door, my mother launched into, “She’s wearing a proper bra now, you know, she’s all grown up.”
“I hope she’s wearing clean knickers,” my Gran replied.
“And they match,” said my mother.
“What matches?” Dad followed close on my Grannies heels carrying a large suitcase.
“Her new knickers and bra,” cried Gran.
Dad smiled and for the first time he didn’t mock, he just smiled at me. “Hope they stay bloody clean as well,” he said.
I was 12, how was I supposed to know what he meant.
“I’ll try not to get them dirty.”
Everyone laughed, everyone except me, I didn’t know what they meant. Unfortunately, my daughter would at that age have known all too well what he meant. I, on the other hand, was none the wiser.
Knickers became a thing after that. I noticed them creeping up my bum, slipping down my hips as they developed. I noticed them in catalogues and even noticed them on washing lines. I wasn’t aware that such a small piece of apparel could come in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes and shades. The worse thing was, I noticed what the other girls were wearing at school.
You can tell a lot by a girl’s knickers. Not that I advocate going around and pulling down trousers to test the character of a person by how and what they wear as undies. But when you have thirty girls in one changing room getting ready for PE, you just can’t help but notice.
I’d say it took about six months for the bra wearing thing to get around to every girl in the class. There were those of us who needed to, those of them that didn’t and those that wore one because they almost had to. I waited until more than half the girls were wearing a bra, rather than being one of the first, I hated standing out in a crowd. But it seemed that having three bras with matching knickers wasn’t enough.
Note to any mother out there buying matching sets for daughters, buy at least two pairs of knickers per bra, please.
It was just sod’s law that on this particular day in time I was wearing my little pink bra with my full black out bloomers. Secretly I loved my black out bloomers. Great whacking comfortable things, that sat on my now developing hip bones and snuggled neatly into the grooves under my arse cheeks. They were amazing. I mean if I had a penny for every time I had to pull my knickers out from in between my cheeks I would be a multi pennieonairre.
“Who bought you them, then?” The bully was on the prowl for a victim and it seemed like today it was going to be me.
“My mum makes me wear them for PE,” I lamely replied.
The laughter from the three girls rung out.
“Looks like they should’ve been hung up on the windows during the war.”
“Which war?” I hoped this would elicit a laugh and so negate me from the rest of the days torment I knew was just beginning. But then I was saved.
“Oh shit, look at what, Widdles wearing?” The fat one cried.
Now Widdle was so called, not because she had at any time left a puddle of any kind anywhere, to mine, or anyone else’s knowledge, it was just that with a name like Lisa Riddle, she was nicknamed Widdle Riddle and the name stuck. The down side of this was her family wasn’t that well off, I fact, you could say that they were downright poor and her clothing showed this.
Lisa Riddle stood, stripped down to her grey cotton knickers and vest. At one point, they must have been white, but I couldn’t swear to the fact. The bully and her compatriots turned as one and marched towards the poor girl. I know I should have been brave and stood up for her, but I didn’t, but then again neither did anyone else. The state of her knickers was held up for ridicule, not literally, I don’t think I would have stood for that, and I know that the other twenty-five girls who were now looking on wouldn’t have done so either.
My blood boiled but I let it pass, that is until about half way through the hockey match.
It was unfortunate for the bully that I had been drawn on the other team, even more unfortunate that her mother had allowed her to wear the most inappropriate knickers on PE day.
My opportunity was there, and I took it. Now don’t ask me at what point I made the decision, nor whether it had been a carefully planned manoeuvre, but let’s just say that whilst the bully rested on her stick with the one hand and dug deep into her shorts to find the slipping knickers to pull then up with the other, it seems wrong not to wrap my hockey stick firmly around her neck and yank her backwards to land on her rump whilst her hand was still fumbling inside her shorts. What I had no intention of doing was breaking her wrist.
I didn’t get expelled that day as Lisa had been my witness and stated that she quite clearly saw me go for the puck whilst the bully leaned forward and at no point did my stick go above my waist height. In fact, the girl now writhing around in agony waiting for the deputy headmistress to take her to hospital had in fact bent so low that Lisa thought she may have done so deliberately.
Neither myself nor Lisa ever received any more ridicule after that. We did become friends and I introduced her to Debenhams at my mother’s expense. It seems Mum was more like me than I gave her credit for. When I explained why I did it, she had laughed so loud that I thought she was going to burst and had promptly invite Lisa to tea. Our friendship was cemented.
I think maybe I should take Mandy to Debenhams to show her what real knickers look like.