Extra Mile Writing

Extra Mile Writing

How Dodgy Bloomers Create Resourcefulness

windmill with sun behind

When I went to boarding school for my high school years, I unfortunately had to attend a compulsory subject called Physical Education, or PE.

I was a rank outsider from station territory in the bush, where most of the time we worked instead of playing sport.

I certainly wasn’t familiar with most team sports because I’d done school of the air for all my primary school education.  I also had an inherent distaste for netball, because I was a tom boy and at that point in time it was exclusively a girly girl’s sport.  Back then it also required wearing a t-shirt and a silly little highly pleated skirt, not the fitted and flattering netball dresses they now wear. 

girl wearing brown pleated above knee skirt

The skirt was a bit like the skirt in the above photo, but it was even more pleated and it had a straight panel across the front that wrapped over the pleated section and was then fastened to the the skirt.  Because the skirt was above knee height, we also wore bloomers over our underwear.  These were basically a sturdy full brief in one of your school colours that supposedly prevented embarrassment if your skirt blew up during the game or you got knocked over.  Apparently bloomers are now not well known, because when I searched for a photo online all that appeared were photos of flowers.  The closest I could find was the below photo of full briefs, but bloomers were actually a plain colour in thicker fabric, and there was certainly no bow at the front.

full brief underwear on clothesline

My parents had to send myself and my four siblings to boarding school, because we were nowhere near within commuting distance to a decent high school.  We lived roughly 540 kilometres from the nearest capital city. 

Rainbow Valley NT granite rocks

With five of us to put through boarding school, they had huge annual expenses.  They managed to do this somehow, because they loved us and they wanted us to have the best possible life.  This was one of the most beautiful things they could have done for us.

But, this did mean that the money had to be watched, and it certainly wasn’t thrown around willy nilly.

Anyway, the bloomers I had for netball were red, because red was one of the Sacred Heart College school colours.  However, they were old, slightly faded and the elastic around the sides was going.  While I could’ve asked my parents for a new pair and they would’ve got them for me, it actually didn’t even occur to me to do this at the time.

So I’d pull my dodgy bloomers out of my drawer and put them on, because I felt like I needed some sort of armour on the court, even though to be honest wearing bloomers did make you feel like you were wearing plastic baby pilchers. 

man wearing polished head and body armour

And of course, I was aware that there was a risk that they’d come down at an inopportune moment and I’d end up waddling awkwardly instead of running, caught in the crutch of an evil pair of bloomers that had slipped down.

Luckily, I was roundly shit at netball and I would normally play Wing Attack (WA) or Wing Defence (WD) which meant being out on the sides of the court rather than in the centre of the action. 

And, if I did end up having to run I was aware enough of the possibility of bloomer slippage that I could manage the risk.  I’d always find a way to quite discreetly reverse any movement if this did happen, when the focus had moved elsewhere on the court.   

And then, happily and all of a sudden, PE would be over for another term. 

At the end of the day, I’m glad for my loose faded red bloomers.  They taught me to be resourceful and to find a way to work around anything.  I also survived PE and graduated from high school, even though I never went above a C grade in this particular subject (it didn’t help that I thought the subject was a complete waste of time). 

And, the bloomers gave me a funny story.  I’ll take a funny story any day, for any reason.   

© Annemaree Jensen