Pyjama game

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In Competition No. 2389 you were invited to provide a short story or anecdote entitled ‘Mishap with Pyjamas’.

The germ of this competition was a statistic presented to me on television: last year 22 cases of admission to hospital came under the heading ‘mishaps with pyjamas’. My mind grew feverish trying to imagine the different incidents which made up this alarming figure, and so I handed over to you. My own troubles with pyjamas, which I won’t bore you with, would never have got me into Accident and Emergency, though they might have landed me in a police station for the night. Commendations to Jeremy Lawrence, Basil Ransome-Davis, Keith Norman and R.J. Pickles, whose last sentence tickled my fancy: ‘Serves me right for agreeing to appear in a Slumberland advertisement with a hippopotamus.’ £30 to Bill Greenwell at the top, and £25 each to the other prizewinners printed below.

As a child, he wandered carelessly through the house with his pyjama trousers round his ankles. His mother patiently upbraided him. ‘Don’t pull the cord,’ she said, dinning it into his head until decency was established, and morning visitors were not treated to unseemly sights. ‘Daniel, don’t pull the cord’ — it went through his head like a perpetual mantra.

He was groggy now, his head nodding with exhaustion. He seemed to have been awake for hours and hours, to be scarcely human, to be almost beyond sleep. The maps began to blur. He was thinking of his mother when the flak hit the plane, and, following the others in their frenzy, he flipped himself out into the open air. He loved her very much. What was it she had said?

Bill Greenwell

Our wedding was idyllic. The second’s so much easier than the first; things fit together. Sharon had, in most respects, been the wife from hell, but Celia! — ah, Celia and I were soulmates. No grouses, not even over motorway jams en route for our honeymoon. Only as we prepared for bed did the trouble begin. Sharon, for all her faults, had always packed our suitcases; I’d taken it for granted that Celia would assume this wifely task. But no. Her previous husbands insisted on doing their own packing; she’d assumed I would do the same. I was pyjamaless.

It was unfortunate that the fire alarm rang at 3 a.m., resulting in my being photographed by the Cotswold Chronicle wearing Celia’s peach satin nightdress and peignoir. Even more unfortunate that they chose to run this story during my election campaign. I trust it will not adversely affect my party’s chances.

D.A. Prince

She was no novice to the game he had agreed to play and she oozed confidence. All evening he had tried hard to score, but his earlier awful mishap had made her smile. Now she was examining his pyjamas for an opening and he blushed at his inexperience. He was desperate for another pee, but after that embarrassing mishap, when he did have one, he would have to wait. Suddenly she grinned and her skilful fingers moved towards that vital spot in his pyjamas. He hadn’t seen the space. With beautifully placed judgment she laid down her tiles and gained 50 bonus points. She’d won again. Playing mishap with pyjamas had been a dreadful blunder.

Frank Mc Donald

My career as a spy came to an ignominious end the day I committed a faux pas of spectacular proportions. I had been instructed to make a pick-up in Berlin and, as I was staying only one night, all I had taken with me were my pyjamas in a small bag. The pick-up went without hitch and, although I was vaguely aware that the bag I collected was almost identical to my overnight case, it didn’t really register. When I arrived home, I was in a hurry and somehow muddled the bags; I passed on to my superiors the one containing my pyjamas and threw what I presumed was my overnight bag into the wardrobe for my next trip. Apparently, the boffins spent two months attempting to extract information from my pyjamas. Then I received a summons from on high. If words could kill, I’d be dead by now.

Virginia Price Evans

Dr Strabismus (whom God preserve) of Utrecht has produced, by scientific means, a single pyjama. Hitherto pyjamas have existed only in the plural, and attempts (by the likes of Isterlitz and Vogt) to claim that individual jackets or trousers constitute a pyjama have met with cries of ‘Charlatan!’ The good doctor’s pyjama, which he donned before an expectant audience at the Salzburg Bedwear Festival, covered both upper and lower body but comprised material 50 per cent thinner and more transparent than any customarily used, resulting in his immediate arrest for indecency by local police. Upon giving reassurances that he would henceforward confine his researches to theoretical matters, such as calculating the square root of a pair of pyjamas, the doctor was released. However, inventions cannot be uninvented, and there are already mail-order addresses from which exhibitionists requiring a legal defence, or conservative naturists, can purchase a single pyjama.

Adrian Fry

The art world is shocked at the loss of Bill Chubb’s 1997 work ‘Mishap with Pyjamas’ (human excrement on cotton). It was inadvertently destroyed by a museum cleaner. The masterpiece, which was insured for £3 million, would surely have realised double that figure at auction in New York. Chubb says he may be able to reproduce the work, though any piece of art is, by its nature, unique. It was after the failure of his early figurative work that Chubb turned to installation art. His groundbreaking ‘Enigma of Gullibility’ (glass, laminated dog biscuits, dustbin lids, crucifix) marked a change of direction and was an immediate success. Chubb then became heavily involved in experimenting with alcohol as a catalyst for producing artworks. It was this interest that led, by accident, to the creation of ‘Mishap with Pyjamas’, a work which came directly from the artist’s unconscious.

Andrew Brison

No. 2392: Beauty treatment

You are invited to supply a poem (maximum 16 lines) in praise of something generally considered ugly. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2392’ by 12 May.