When it comes to the thermal underwear family, there's definitely one garment that's regarded a bit like a dirty old uncle. While thermal vests are given a free ride, thermal long johns are regarded with the sort of suspicion usually reserved for 1970s BBC radio disc jockeys.
Long johns are in need of a good bit of PR. I'm sitting in the office wearing a pair now, and feel totally shielded against the shivers that my colleagues experience every time the heating goes on the brink. And yet, I feign shivering too, lest my secret long john shame be revealed. They're supremely comfortable in the winter (I'd never take them off if I could get away with it) and yet the way they make you look like some sort of Man-Chicken makes them, quite possibly, the most un-sexy item of clothing any bloke could own. My better half turns away in disgust as I undress at night, revealing the thick cotton tights that seem painted onto my bandy legs -- only Joseph "The Elephant Man" Merrick must have endured similar reactions of revulsion.
"I do feel a bit shameful, like it's a piece of medical clothing I should keep secret," our own Gary Cutlack told me after a quick survey of the office revealed he and I to be among the very few carrying a torch for long johns.
But should we be so ashamed of our desire to keep our lower extremities toasty? Why should my chest be allowed the comfort of a thermal vest without reproach while my legs bear the brunt of the winter freeze, with austerity Britain rendering my immersion heater all but obsolete? So, long johns -- yay or nay this yuletide season?