The opening up of trade with China has brought a flood of cheap goods to western shops, but is this really a benefit. One area where rumblings of discontent can be heard are men's underpants...
One of the big stories in the UK media over the last few days was the heartfelt complaint of senior news presenter Jeremy Paxman - "Paxo" - that his underpants do not support his dangly bits. Jeremy is the frontman of the BBC's heavyweight current affairs programme Newsnight and in an extraordinary outburst following a report on trade with China he complained of the lack of quality in the goods in our shops these days.
My initial reaction was that Paxo should think himself lucky, it is not so long ago the BBC was such a stuffy organisation, journalists were not permitted to have dangly bits because the shows they appeared on were broadcast to homes in middle class suburbs. In fact as recently as the 1990s female presenters working on BBC Children's programmes were, like Barbie dolls, not allowed vaginas.
I digress, we are discussing guzzies and dangly bits. All my adult life I have chosen jockey briefs, the kind of pants with no fly, you just yank the elastic down, whack your willie over the top, take aim and let it rip. Y fronts were OK but could be terribly fiddly especially if you needed a waz while walking home from the pub on a cold night, but jockeys are more elegant and have the effect of lifting and pushing forward whereas if an opportunity to doff your Daks and pleasure a lady occurred unexpectedly, a pair of baggy, grey Y fronts would make their wearer look like Mr. Semi-detached Suburban.
The move to boxers in the 1980s, the decade that style forgot, was a complete mystery to all men who like to look good while getting their kit off. Boxer shorts are shapeless, sexless and silly, only fit to be worn by hapless actors caught with their pants down in low-budget sitcoms.
Wearing boxer shorts is pointless, they offer no support, (you may as well let your wedding tackle waft to and fro in the breeze,) no shape enhancement to impress potential partners and they do not even catch the drips, you just have to endure the sensation of cold wetness tricking down your leg.
Boxer shorts were promoted by lesbian feminist writers who rave about how sexy men looked in them. What is sexy about having a picture of Mickey Mouse covering your meat and two veg. At the risk of sounding paranoid here, I sense a gay conspiracy, while male fashion designers created clothes to make women look ridiculous, women writers put men in clown underpants. The hidden message was that straight sex is just uncool.
The situation carried on unchanged (although hopefully the guzzies were changed regularly) throughout the 1990s but since the turn of the century, the industrialisation of Asia, the export of jobs to low labour cost countries, and the abandonment of prudence has seen a rapid decline in quality in favour of cheap. It was not how good your guzzies were that mattered but how many pairs you had. Modern boxers can be had for pennies from Wal-Mart / Asda but seem to be made from the same stuff as Kleenex, while size 'M' jockeys, supposedly for a medium sized man, look as if they would fit a medium sized ten year old. And the cut! jockey briefs need to have a bit of pouching at the front, you know, like the bag you carried your marbles in as a child, but now I find the bit that connects front to back is so skimpy if I do not arrange things very carefully I walk around with one bollock dangling down each side while that thin band of cloth disappears up my crevice.
I sometimes feel I would be as well off wearing my daughter's thongs (apart from the probability of her killing me,) but this is the way of the world.
Our grandparents told us, (well mine told me*,) buy cheap, buy twice. Now of course we have no choice, there is cheap cheap from the budget stores, or there is expensive cheap which is the same cheap crap but with a designer label. So congratulations to Jeremy Paxman for airing his underpant issues. We should all be up in arms about the crappification of our lives.
*Grandad, one of life's natural philosophers also told me "you can't ride two horses with one arse; never trust a man who doesn't drink; always bet on the outsider of three; and you'll never get a girl if you smell like a pox doctor's clerk.