Tuesday, 18 September 2012

5 things you didn't know about Battersea Park

You’re probably all aware that Battersea Park is this year’s location for the great pants extravaganza AKA Pants in the Park, but did you know that this venerable green space is over 154 years old? We didn’t either (thank you Wikipedia) and in doing a bit of research into the area we managed to find a number of other fascinating facts about how this 200 acre park began.

In the early half of the 1800s, Battersea Park was known as Battersea fields and was a proper hot spot for duelling. The Duke of Wellington (who was PM at the time) took to Battersea fields in 1929 to sort out a bit of bother with a chap called the Earl of Winchilsea, who had openly dissed him. The Duke, having spilt enough blood in the Napoleonic wars to last a lifetime, aimed wide and the Earl aimed high, saving both their honour and their lives. 

In 1846 Parliament passed an act to form a Royal Park in the area of Battersea fields and 320 acres was bought for the princely sum of £200,000, which is about £4.7 million in today’s money. Coincidently, £4.7 million will now buy you this nice little four bedroom number on the river next to Battersea Park (please let us know if you are interested in this property, our Major Donor Manager will be in contact very, very quickly).

Yours for a snip under £5 million. Bargain.

In the 1800s, architects and planners were the equivalent of modern day pop stars. Rather than hearing about the latest exploits of No Direction or Harry Styles (yawn) the talk of the town would have been about Joseph Paxton and John Nash’s latest work. With this in mind, it’s no surprise it took an age (over 10 years) to work out not just the look of the park but who was actually going to design it (this was before X-Factor, so such choices weren’t easy). Eventually James Pennethorne and John Gibson scribbled a few ideas on the back of a beer mat and Battersea Park began to take shape. 

The north bank of the Thames was very densely populated, so having a 200 acre park on your back doorstep seemed like a great idea to everyone who lived there. There was one small problem though: the Thames. In the 1800s there really weren’t many bridges linking the crowded North to the villages of South London, so Londoner’s would have had to trudge all the way down to Battersea bridge, schlep up to Regent bridge (now Vauxhall bridge) or risk a ferry over the open sewer Thames. Thankfully the town planners of the day had foreseen this problem and had started work on building Chelsea bridge as soon as Battersea Park was planned, and the two opened to the public in 1858.

Battersea Park was an instant success when it opened, and although it’s been through a number of changes it’s still as popular as ever in 2012. Battersea Park now boasts a children’s zoo, a boating lake and a host of fantastic sporting facilities. The 5k route for Pants in the Park will take in many sites of this fascinating and beautiful park. We’ll see you there on Saturday!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Fun and games

Hello there, young earthlings, Pants Man here! I’ve designed some pantastic puzzles and games for you to download and enjoy. But the real reason I’ve done this (don’t tell anyone…) is that I actually need your help – open the Pants Maze and you will see that I’ve lost my pants. I desperately need to find them again, as without my pants, I have no power!

I've also created a great game called Arty Pants, which is a blank pair of pants for you to colour in as crazily as you can. It’s good practice for all the amazing designs you can add to your pants for Pants in the Park in September. Also see if you can find my name and lots of other PANTS words in my Pants Wordsearch. Just click on the images to download the games. Enjoy, and stay cool earthlings!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A brief history of pants

Underwear. Knickers. Pants. Undies. Call them what you will, they’ve been around for a long time. To celebrate the countdown to Pants in the Park, we’ve delved into the top drawer of undergarments to bring you a brief history (sorry) of pants.

To witness the birthplace of the first pair of pants, our journey begins in the Stone Age. Tired of feeling the effects of a cool breeze, Stone Age men and women took to wrapping animal skins around their loins to keep warm and to have something to hang in their wardrobe. The path to Mary Portas had begun.
Nice pants Thak!
It took the Romans (no surprise there) to take pants design to the next stage. Ancient Romans (this refers to the time period and is not us being ageist) created a leather undergarment called a subligaculum, which could be either a pair of shorts or a cloth wrapped around the lower body. Men and women both wore subligacula, with women also wearing a strophium – a leather band worn across the chest. The first billboard advert for strophium – ‘Hello Gladiators’ – was quite controversial and lasted only a few days before being taken down as it was causing too many chariot crashes.

4th Century AD mosaic found near the ancient Roman Villa del Casale in Sicily, M Disdero 2006
Fast forward to the Middle Ages and underwear had taken a bit of a backseat. Men were sporting the latest in undergarment design called a braise, which was the 6th Century equivalent of a pair of M&S spotted boxer shorts. Women on the other hand had eschewed the notion of pants completely, and wore nothing but a long linen garment called a shift under their dress. In fact it wasn’t until the 19th Century that women started wearing pants again!

From the 19th Century, pants started to take shape as we know them today, although there were a few wacky designs along the way: long pants, short pants and event pants that came in two parts (hence the fact that pants are pairs).

The name pants came from the shortening of pantaloons, a type of baggy underwear that went from your waist all the way down to your ankles. Pantaloons were named after a fictitious character in a number of Italian plays from the 16th Century called Pantalone. Pantalone was famous for wearing garments that went down all the way to his ankles (like tights).  At the time, most men wore garments that stopped at the knee, so Pantalone stuck out like a sore thumb. Pantalone was forever associated with this particular attire, so when people started wearing long underwear, they called them pantaloons (a dubious honour in our book only matched by Mr Thomas Crapper).
Pantalone wearing his dashing pantaloons (not arriving in a shop near you any time soon)
Whatever pants you decide to wear outside your clothes at Pants in the Park, we look forward to seeing you there. It’s going to be bloomin’ marvellous!

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Famous pants

Celebrity bras get all the attention, don’t they? They’re always popping out from nowhere to grab the limelight, with the celebrity owner apparently powerless to stop them, and baffling us with phrases such as ‘wardrobe malfunction’ by way of explanation. Judy Finnigan’s bra was so big and white and lacy it simply had to have its moment in the spotlight at the National Television Awards. While Madonna and her vast and exotic underwear collection have a history of combining forces to ensure maximum publicity for both the garment and the woman.

But don’t celebrity pants want to have their moment to shine too? Of course they do, and they invariably grab those fleeting moments with such panache that they can’t help but steal the show. And the merest hint of fabric is enough. The winning combination of a celebrity getting out of a car and wearing a short skirt is the optimum time for any self-respecting pair of pants to dazzle its audience, especially if the celebrity owner happens to have a penchant for publicity. Jordan’s and Britney’s knickers (amongst others), we salute you.   

But it’s not just those girly knickers and thongs that have all the fun, oh no. Manly boxers and briefs are getting in on the act too, and they’re getting cunning. Footballer Nicklas Bendtner’s pants’ audacious display in the middle of an international football match managed to reach a global audience of millions by masquerading as an advertising stunt. 

But the most respect has to go to rugby star Ben Cohen’s pants, which have taken centre stage in a charity fundraising campaign. Ben’s pants, having got a taste of fame during a more traditional advertising campaign, decided to take it one step further and front the world’s first foundation dedicated to anti-bullying, the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. So pants really CAN make the world a better place.

And remember, celebrity or not, show your pants some love this September and let them hang out proudly at Pants in the Park.  

Monday, 30 July 2012

Message intercept from the gamma quadrant

Pants Man strikes a pose
[Crackle…static] Hello? Is this thing on? Pants Man calling planet Earth. Pants Man calling planet Earth! Are you receiving me? [crackle…pop….static..] Calvin, turn up the elasticator to 11, this message must get through. We must [hiss….click….pop]..and get the message [crackle….hiss….click]..in time. Oh for the love of Pants, come on! Klein, try downgrading the transmographer on the y-front. [line clears] That’s it, brilliant!

People of Earth, the health of your men folk hangs on a precipice. We must act now to save their health and secure a brighter future for men of all ages. 

I come from a small planet in the Sloggi system called planet Pants. Many years ago, my people used to wear their pants underneath their clothes, just like you do now. They lived happily that way, until all the men were struck down by a mysterious illness called prostate disease.

Through research and education, our scientists worked out a way to beat prostate disease and managed to fight it off for good. Ever since, generation after generation of Panterians have worn their pants outside their clothes to ward off complacency and make sure all the men and women of planet Pants are aware of the signs and symptoms to watch out for so prostate disease never returns.

People of Earth, I come to you with this message: it’s time to act now and help save the health of men now and in the future! Join me and Prostate Action on 22 September 2012 in Battersea Park, London for a 5km fun run called Pants in the Park. Wear your pants on the outside of your clothes to raise awareness of prostate disease and help raise funds to beat this dreadful disease. 

I will be in contact again soon with more information about this terrific event. Until then earthlings, stay safe, and stay aware. Pants Man out.
Oh, one last thing. If any Americans are listening to this message, pants mean underwear. I don’t want all you guys and girls across the pond trying to wear your pants outside your pants, it could lead to circulation problems. PM