Tag Archives: fancy dress

Cats and dogs dressed up like cakes

There’s so much shit going on in the world it can be hard to stay on top of it all. I am concerned about the shit stuff, like the wars and famines and so on, but I can’t spend all day every day reading about it. I have to find something more light-hearted to drag me through the endless minutes of what can feel like an interminable day at work.

This regularly leads me to stories about animals. I can spend hours looking at pictures of cats and dogs dressed up like cakes, or other animals, or in people-uniforms. I know the animal isn’t complicit in the decision to wear fancy dress, so I do know on some level it’s a bit cruel. It’s a moral conflict I regularly choose to ignore, going in favour of kittens in cardies and dogs in clown outfits over finding out any more about the Islamic State and whether or not Cameron and Obama are going to get all up in their faces or not.

When the animal pictures run out, more often than I care to admit I find myself immersed in stories about the moderately well-known as I traverse the countless pages of crap that are slowly unpicking the very fabric of society: the celebrity gossip pages. I know this is wrong on just about every level. People are being blown up for no good reason, children are dying of hunger, innocent people are suffering day in, day out. The world is going to shit and, instead of reading about it so I can at least make that last sentence sound in some way informed, I’m reading about Paul Ross.

It’s been quite a turnaround for one of daytime TV’s faves; he’s been having a bit of the other behind his wife’s back and getting off his tits on Meow Meow the whole time.

I’m not a drug user. Not in a smug “my body is a temple” way, because I can and do imbibe my weekly allowance of alcohol units several times over, several times a week. I’ve had the occasional flirtation with some chemicals but it has never appealed to me enough to make it a regular thing. It’s expensive and the days of suicidal thoughts that followed my rare indulgences have proven enough of a deterrent to keep me on a straight and narrow, albeit slightly wobbly, binge-drinking path.

Although my experience with drugs is limited, I’m fairly certain of one thing, and this is where I think Paul has got more than a little bit confused; drugs don’t turn you gay.

If I wanted some Meow Meow I would have no idea where to get it from. I would have no idea how to take it (snort it? smoke it? eat it? shove it up my arse?) and I would have no idea what to expect, side-effects wise. However, if street drugs came with labels, I very much doubt they would come with something like this: “Warning: may cause episodes of sodomy and long-term homosexual relationships”.

You cheated on your wife, Paul. And of all the fucking unpleasant things you can do to someone that doesn’t involve causing them actual physical harm, that’s pretty high on the list. The fact you cheated on her with a man really is neither here nor there, so trying to blame the homosexual nature of your infidelity on the drugs is just pointless.

It’s the shaky, pointy finger of blame that comes out every time. I’ve used it myself. Alcohol has been cited as the reason for most of my misdemeanours. Most recently at a wedding when a classic 80s Madonna song came on and a friend and I apparently launched into the kind of synchronised dancing that looked like we’d been practising a routine for weeks. The quantities of white wine we had knocked back had imbued us with such appalling confidence and our uninhibited minds became as one. It was because we were drunk, Paul. Never in a sober moment have we managed or even attempted to recreate a pop video.

But it was done and dusted in a night, Paul. Sure, we’re both embarrassed and wish it hadn’t happened. We don’t want people thinking that as women in our thirties we’re going home and choreographing moves to pop songs and then Skyping each other to practice. But in the end no-one got really hurt.

The clear difference is this: none of my drunken mishaps have lasted for 14 months. Because if you’re doing something for 14 months, there is at least a hint of autonomy going on, whether you’re prepared to admit it or not.

I don’t doubt it would take an enormous amount of bravery to come out. Daytime TV doesn’t strike me as the kind of place to nurture and coddle an individual wrestling with some heavy-duty emotions. The viewing public want their presenters straight and married, and the world remains a homophobic place. I don’t envy you, Paul, but for fuck’s sake take responsibility for what you’ve done.

Being gay isn’t a crime. Well, it is in some repulsively narrow-minded countries, but it’s not here, thank Christ. Be gay or be straight; be whoever you are, which can sometimes be the hardest thing. Just don’t be a cunt to someone who trusts you and then blame it on some party drug.

If only I was as concerned with world affairs as I am with Paul Ross. Ah screw it. I’ll stick with the cats in costumes from now on.

An attempt to be a birthday cake

I don’t have a problem with fun, I really quite enjoy fun. But just as I am void of desire to punctuate that statement with a dreaded exclamation mark or a giant smiley face, I don’t feel the need to literally dress fun up.

I’m rather despondent in the face of forced and contrived ‘fun’. You know – community fairs, team bonding experiences, party games, fancy dress.

Fancy. Dress. That is where my main contention lies. Obviously there have been moments in life when I’ve fully embraced and actually enjoyed it, but that has been on my terms, decided at my own leisure, created with my own thoughts and creative ability. Not thrust upon me.

When this fun becomes ‘fun’, it’s usually as a result of some type of enforced wearing of a party hat or novelty devil horns. The quotation marks around ‘fun’ come to quite literally represent these devil horns. The ring leader of this enforced fun, thrusting a pair of devil horns onto your head in an attempt to demonstrate ‘naughtiness’, because ‘naughtiness’ is fun.

No. No it is not.

And do you know what else isn’t fun? When your invite to a birthday/hen/stag/party event comes with a command that everyone must dress in the exact same fancy dress attire.

Ever since I lost a fancy dress competition to a bunch of grapes, whilst I was stood on stage inside a cardboard box in an attempt to be a birthday cake, any fancy dress has been tainted with a tinge of trauma.

Because how could I not win that competition? We were at a high street’s 100th birthday party – why would a bunch of grapes win instead of a birthday cake? It didn’t make sense, and it still doesn’t make sense. And because that certainty wasn’t certain enough, I will now instantly recoil in horror at the very mention of the awful words ‘fancy dress’, because whatever I attempt will not be good enough.

Maybe you’d think that if we’re all forced to dress in the same outfit then there’s no competition. We’re all in the same boat, or the same costume box – strength in numbers, united we stand, or something. Nope, that doesn’t make it better. It brings to the surface the horrific memories of the group fancy dress moments that defined my childhood. Because when I wasn’t strutting across a stage in a cardboard box, I could be found in a homeless man’s second favourite belonging – The Bin Bag.

Along with my two sisters, once a year, I’d knock on strangers’ doors dressed in refuse chic. All three of us, wandering the neighbourhood in bin bags. Black bin bags. This was Halloween trick or treating for countless years – the bin bags, a bit of rope, a rubber nose and a plastic hat, made up the costumes for us trio of witches.
And it was a conflicting time for us, this childhood relationship with bin bags – because they were also brought out on Christmas day to contain our presents. Why is Santa using our Halloween costumes for our presents? What is all that rubbish doing in my Halloween costume? Why are you dressed as a bin, dear child?

As the years went on, my fancy dress attempts became more elaborate and desperate – I was soon led by creative intuition and began to raid charity shops for inspiration (via the bin bags left outside containing donations, of course). Little Sharon had invited me to her 10th birthday party and I had never visited a house so grand. The birthday party was fancy dress, and of course I deemed it appropriate to visit the local charity shop to purchase a tight PVC skirt, lacy black top, black ankle boots and to spray my hair green. No, I hadn’t shunned the bin bags to transform myself into a saucy witch of the night, I was a PUNK. As a 10-year-old child, a reclusive, nose-bleeding, bed-wetting, cat poem-writing 10-year-old child, I was dressed as a ‘punk’.

So here we are many years and fancy dress attempts later, on the verge of a nosebleed at the stress and outrage that I’ve been invited to an event where a costume has been enforced upon me. You could argue, after reading the narrative of a snippet of my childhood fancy dress horrors, that an enforced costume is a blessing in actual disguise, because surely there won’t be a group enforcement of the bin bag, and what could be worse than that?

I’ll tell you what can be worse than that – the enforcement of bulk-bought costumes. By all means, announce the theme and announce that it would be nice if we all dressed as a similar collection of characters. But don’t announce that you’ve got your hands on a pile of BULK BOUGHT costumes. A job lot. Grab ‘em while they’re hot, girls. All this material for one paaaand.

Because why, why, why, why is it necessary to extinguish the slightest glimmer of fun that does exist in fancy dress, that is the creation of your own disastrous masterpiece, by dictating that we must all wear the exact same garment? Purchased from an online industrial warehouse of ‘FUN’, and no doubt stitched in a Bangladesh sweatshop, wherein which poor building regulations and health and safety standards caused it to come crashing down, killing 256 girls and maiming another 167. Because buildings cannot be held up by ‘FUN’ alone, you know.

For the sake of human rights, and before the UN gets involved, please reconsider inflicting this upon us. For now, I shall dig out my old bin bag to become the apparent Anti-’Fun’ Witch that you probably now consider me to be.

We can pencil moustaches on

A few days ago I had cause to email the following sentence to an acquaintance:

“I would rather be bent over by Rolf while burning myself alive than ever get involved in any kind of fancy dress.“

I’ve managed to reach 37 years old without ever having to wear fancy dress. As far as I know I never wore fancy dress as a child – not so much as a spaceman costume to Richard Knightley’s ill-fated 7th birthday party or a white sheet on Halloween.

It staggers me that grown adults feel the urge to dress up like patients on day release from the local IQ-deficiency ward. If someone could explain to me the fascination with making oneself out to be a cowboy or a centurion or fucking Cleopatra, or some similarly tragic character from times we’ve long moved on from for the good of the race, I could perhaps understand why I’m now being asked to dress like a fucking Frenchman for the stag weekend of a 38-year-old man.

On a Friday night, in fucking Newcastle no less. I’ll just start punching myself now, save the locals the bother.

Clearly there’s something in the make-up of specific cretins that demands people pay them attention. Personally, my imagination works perfectly well without me having to actually become Batman or a Power Ranger. I can well imagine what it’s like to be shot by a Canadian hunter without having to dress up like a grizzly bear. No, I will not wear that Hawaiian skirt and do a little twirl for you just because GO ON IT’S A LAUGH.

It’s parenthood, mostly, I know that – parents who get little or no attention from anyone because their children have become everyone’s entire life consider one day a year dressing up like a fucking vicar to be their quite literally God-given right.

But those of us without the need to be pointed and stared at, then laughed at and kicked shitless in turn, shouldn’t have to be roped into such an appalling parade of childishness when trying to celebrate the end of a man’s freedom in Newcastle on a fucking Friday night. Some of us want to dress normally and get alcoholically strengthened so there’s at least a slim chance of surviving the first round with the half-naked nutter who spills our pint and then demands we buy him one for unwittingly dripping it down his effortlessly sweating beer-gut.

The groom in question is half French, which is what makes the whole thing so thoroughly hilarious. Not for the groom, obviously, who has already threatened to leave the moment anyone produces tying-up material to go with their dressing-up material. Last year on a stag weekend in Dublin, another poor bastard spent the entire day dressed as a leprechaun, only to be told his evening’s endurance involved dressing up like a female leprechaun. With two simple words – ‘Fuck that’ – he sat and remained implacable. He will forever be my hero, perhaps more than the best man, who decided to wear the outfit in the groom’s place to the bewilderment of many a congratulatory Dubliner. “Someone’s got to wear it”, he said. Do they though?

This debacle has so far cost me £20 as I’ve had to change my train to Newcastle to a later one, to avoid three hours of ‘oh go on you have to join in go on’ from friends of friends I see once every six months. I’ll likely have to find a way to fuck off somewhere that night with whoever else refuses at the first, and if it ends up just me so be it. It might sound out of order but it’s not as out of order as making me dress like a comedy Gaul in fucking Newcastle on a fucking Friday night. I already have to wear your stupid ‘shirt and shoes’ combination on the Saturday, that special outfit that gets people into places in the extremities of the UK where they’ve yet to establish that what you wear doesn’t relate to how likely you are to smash the place up come 3am.

There’s an episode of Seinfeld where he winds up having to wear a puffy, piratical shirt on live TV, and he’d really rather not. His “But I don’t wanna be a pirate” is one of the funniest lines of the entire show. I feel his pain like a blade to the calcaneal.

And whatever happened to the word ‘fancy’? Didn’t that used to mean posh, or refined in some way, as opposed to ‘like a cunt’?

I received a reply to the email.

“Right chaps, we’re gonna go with the French man theme for the Friday night. If we all get navy or black stripey tops and beret, we can pencil moustaches on (or you can grow your own Dan!) Apologies to Chris who would rather have intimate relations with Rolf than dress up, but we’ve got to do it.”

But I don’t wanna be a pirate.