A wry view of life for the world-weary

Tag Archives: keep away from fire

Brief Notes

Recently I had to have a medical procedure, the preparation for which required me to sit on a toilet for several hours. The ominous gurglings emanating from my bowels brought to mind Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote, “what comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a man who has whirlwinds in his bowels”.

Rather than seeking solace in Descartes’ vortices, I found myself scrutinising the label of the inside of my briefs. I have already pondered the meaning of the warning “keep away from fire” – yes, it was there again – but this pair had another somewhat mystifying notice, “part of a three piece set”.  Without anything else to do and fearful of the consequences of moving from the porcelain throne, I mulled this over in my mind.

When I buy underpants, there are a number of criteria that that the garments have to satisfy. They have to be capacious enough to accommodate my nether regions comfortably, they have to be of a fabric that won’t irritate, there has to be the correct number of pants in the packet and they have to be of a colour that wouldn’t cause me to die of shame if I was carted off to hospital unexpectedly and they were revealed to the medical staff. I can understand that the reference to my briefs being part of a three piece set being marginally useful at the point of sale, but is there a deeper meaning, I wondered?

Slightly horror-struck, I began to wonder whether I had been wearing underpants incorrectly throughout the years. Perhaps they had to be worn in layers, three being designed to provide maximum comfort. And rather like a matryoshka doll, was each imperceptibly bigger than the other to ensure that perfect fit? And how do you know the order in which to put them on? When I was able to liberate myself I saw that the other two pairs of briefs had the same label. No help there, then.

Perhaps I had inadvertently bought a packet of briefs designed for the exclusive use of triplets. You can imagine the scene. A person is found wandering the streets. The helpful sign in their underpants alerts the authorities that they are one of three. This sort of knowledge may help enormously in returning the lost soul to the bosom of his family.

Perhaps on a more mundane level, the label is designed to engender some order into the drawer containing your briefs. Helpfully, the label will allow you to store two other pairs of briefs bearing the same label with this one. But the system breaks down if you are wearing a pair – clearly there will only be two in the drawer – or if you were foolish enough to buy several packs of briefs bearing the label. Think of the chaos.

The only sane conclusion was that it was of no interest to the wearer but at least pondering the question gave me something to while away the time. Fortunately, the results of the procedure were rather like my bowels – all clear.


Keep Away From Fire


I bought some new underpants a few weeks ago – an event which occurs with slightly more frequency than my taking a bath. Nice they are too, comfortable in a boxer short style and bearing a pleasant chequered pattern. The sort of underpants which if you were wearing when you suffered a major coronary or were knocked over on the street you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in.

Anyway, I was sitting on the throne going about my business the other day when my attention was caught by a label on the inside of the rear of said boxers. I looked at it more closely and saw that as well as bearing the country of manufacture – China, inevitably – it had the stark warning “Keep away from fire”.

This set me thinking. In what sort of circumstances would you deliberately expose your underwear to a naked flame and does your daily occupation dictate the sort of underwear you buy?

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t go out of my way to expose myself to flames. I now, of course, have the perfect excuse to avoid those dreadful corporate team bonding days that consultants are so fond of. Walking across hot coals – sorry, I’ve got the wrong type of underpants on. Can’t take the risk.

If you are a fireman do you have different types of underwear depending upon whether you are on your window cleaning rounds or whether you are on call to put out a fire? The last thing you would want when your house was up in flames was a crew of firemen come along all snuggly dressed in their flammable Chinese BHS underpants and turn round and say to you, “Sorry mate, we’ll have to let it burn. Wrong type of underpants”.

These are scenarios under your control but what about the unexpected? Can you take the risk of wearing these boxers when there is the possibility, remote as it may be, that you may be trapped in an inferno, cursing your choice of underwear that morning.

And there is a philosophical dimension to consider. What is fire? Some activities – I will leave it to your imagination, dear reader – may result in some frictional activity in the nether regions. Does engaging in such pursuits whilst wearing these benighted undies add an unanticipated and unexpected danger? What if you had had a particularly fierce curry the night before?

I was quite shaken when I had finished considering all these possibilities. Suffice it to say, the boxers have been consigned to the bin and I have resurrected my elderly collection of safer underwear from the bowels of my wardrobe.

After all, you can’t be too careful!

Merry Christmas to you all!