The advent of the “onesie” was not a surprise, anyone who has encountered particular bachelor farmers at home, or even in hospital, will be familiar with the tendency of some to wear “combinations,” vest and long-johns all in one. The arrival of the “kigu” was more surprising, or perhaps the wearing of a kigu by adults in public places seems more surprising. The Urban Dictionary defines a “kigu” thus:
A Japanese invention / Item of clothing. A kigu is an all in one oversized animal costume, usually made from lightweight material, similar to a babygrow but for adults.
Mindful that clergy dress in ways that are totally eccentric and are totally alien to the majority of the population, noticing how someone dresses is probably a case of pots and kettles calling each other black, but walking down the high street and meeting a middle aged woman dressed in a pink animal outfit at five o’clock on a weekday afternoon seemed unusual.
The kigu was faded and grubby and was worn with a crumpled grey hoodie and scuffed red training shoes. With the hood of the kigu raised, the woman was leaning looking in through the window of a red van, remonstrating loudly with the man who was driving and the woman who sat in the passenger seat. There seemed a dispute about something, the kigu wearer was frowning and expressing displeasure. After a few moments, the van pulled away and the woman walked down the street, the tail of the kigu more resembling that of the donkey Eeyore in A.A. Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” than anything bright or colourful or joyful.
There seemed an indefinable sadness in seeing someone standing in the high street in dirty pyjamas at 5 p.m. As working people were beginning to leave their shops and offices, and to purposefully make their way home, she wandered slowly toward the town centre. Presumably, no-one would wish their life to be lived in such a way. Who would want to be seen wearing faded, grubby pink pyjamas in the middle of a busy town at the busiest time of the day?
Might those who design the structures that provide people with financial assistance and health care and psychological support feel that something more is needed? Might they see that giving people enough cash to eke out an existence leaves issues unaddressed? The issues are as much about individual hope and community pride as they are about material needs. People may receive identical benefit payments and yet enjoy radically different qualities of life.
Politically, it is unlikely the fundamental questions will be asked, because the Right would have to concede that people should enjoy the right to a dignity that is currently lacking and the Left would have to concede that people have a responsibility to do more for themselves than live whole lives on benefits.