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Who remembers navy knickers?

Was out for lunch with some work colleagues recently, when the conversation turned to knickers and what we were forced to wear in our younger days.

For anyone of a younger age group, reading this, you have to bear in mind that heating systems were not as good as they are now.  A big coal fire in the sitting room heated our homes, as there was no central heating.  If you had to leave the sitting room, you didnít stay in any of the other rooms for very long, as it was so cold.  On frosty mornings you woke to magical ferns growing on the inside of your bedroom window.

For this reason, we wore more layers of clothes than is necessary today and werenít they lovely.  I hasten to add that I only speak for the girls, as I have no way of knowing what the boys wore.

First on was the cotton vest and then the liberty bodice.  The liberty bodice was a bit like a vest but had a fleecy back, so was very warm.  I believe they were so called because they were more liberating than the boned corsets worn prior to this.  On top of these, were several layers of jumpers or blouses and cardigans, to keep the cold at bay.

We usually wore skirts, but I do remember wearing tartan trousers before the Bay City Rollers had thought of them.  Socks for me in the winter were knee-length fawn coloured ones, with turn down tops.  These had to be held up with elastic garters and I can still visualise them, sitting on the left-hand side of the mantelpiece overnight, with my younger sisterís on the right.  Very often my two garters would shrink to one, when my sister replenished her stock from mine.

However the ďpiece de la resistanceĒ of clothing had to be the dreaded navy knickers. 

When you started Wick High School you had to wear a white blouse and navy knickers in order to take part in gym.  We were divided into different houses and as I was in Duncansby house, a yellow ribbon had to be sewn down both sides of the knickers.  Woe betide anyone who forgot the white blouse and navy knickers.

They were enormous, baggy, horrible things, with elastic round the bottom of the legs, which almost reached the knees.  I think great-grannies wore similar garments at that time. 

The worst part of having to wear them, was running the gauntlet from the changing rooms to the gym.  We were spared the embarrassment of having to go into the gym with the boys, but we did have to walk past them en route.  Iíve never been able to establish whether this was lucky co-incidence on their part, or did they wait until they knew we were going to appear in our lovely attire.  This was, you must remember, shortly after we discovered during games of Leavo, that boys were a slightly different species, so the embarrassment factor was heightened.

Anyway, I hated every minute of having to wear those navy knickers and worse, be seen wearing them.  I do remember hearing that the strap had been banned from schools, but donít remember ever hearing of the navy knickers being banned.  They did far worse psychological damage in my estimation.