I don’t wish to come across as some mardy old miserablist, but I bloody hate fancy dress. There are no redeeming features of a fancy dress party, apart from the moment it is over or at the very least, when someone laughs too loudly and accidentally swallows their Dracula teeth. Really, there should be no event in existence that requires more preparation than a token squirt of extra deodorant and a quick check that a child has not wiped his nose down your top when you weren’t looking. Fancy dress is flipping hard work. As you don your crappy costume in preparation, you are burdening yourself not only with ridiculous shoes, or face painting that looks like it was applied by a myopic toddler with anger issues, but also with the cumbersome expectation that you are going to have the most fun you’ve ever had. Because that’s the rule with fancy dress. Everyone has the BEST time EVER because EVERYTHING is so bloody HILARIOUS.
And even when you made the effort, some bugger with more money than sense has hired a costume of such epic grandeur and historical accuracy that you instantly feel like a twat, standing there in a dress made only with one pair of charity curtains, a stapler and a single viewing of a two and a half minute instructional You Tube video.
I endured a few terrible fancy dress parties in my twenties, and at one, after spending a large proportion of the evening with a cardboard toilet cistern embellished with an oversized thermometer on my head (I went as a hot flush, but lord only knows why. I can’t imagine the theme of the party was the menopause) I vowed that that was it. And by the time I was in my thirties, I was brave enough to decline any fancy dress party invites with a resolute ‘not on your fucking life, thank you’.
But my hiatus from fancy dress and the horrors therein has been short lived, as my boys, like most other children of their age who know no better and have yet to suffer the ignominy of whacking their boss in the face with a wooden toilet flush, bloody love fancy dress.
And my foray back into dressing up has not altered my opinion. At nursery, the first Christmas Songs Concert that my son was part of was fancy dress, and E was one of the elves. These days, fancy dress is all about speed and nothing about effort for me. I dug out a green top and trousers, hurriedly cut a few triangles out of some creased-looking red felt I found under the stairs, stitched them loosely to the neck and spent the princely sum of £1.99 on an elf hat so tragic looking it made grown men cry. But, it was job done. On the day, it was slightly horrifying to see that proper parents had made significantly more of an effort. Particularly one girl, dressed as a Christmas tree, who was expertly adorned with a set of multi-coloured LED fairy lights. That actually worked. Really. No one likes a show off. I was secretly hoping that the nursery manager would have her escorted off the premises until she had undergone a PAT test to ensure she conformed to EU safety regulations, but to no avail.
And to add insult to injury, my boys indulge in impromptu dressing up. They innocently sneak off to the play room, only to emerge as a pirate, with an inside-out waistcoat and an eye patch hovering somewhere near a right ear. Or even more alarming, a three foot Spiderman clutching a light sabre. These all-in-one superhero costumes are the worst. I have no idea what they are made from, but I can tell you one thing. That fabric is not on speaking terms with natural fibres. If my son runs around too fast in one of those costumes, it generates enough electricity to get National Grid interested. And the nadir of this sorry superhero attire is a superhero fancy dress birthday party at a soft play centre. Right there is a scenario that makes me start foaming at the mouth. A triumvirate of evil so heinous that I am coming out in hives just thinking about it. Particularly the moment when, after forty minutes of running, climbing, rolling and jumping on saliva-smeared vinyl shapes, my superhero-cladded son emerges, sweating profusely, and distinctly resembling what is essentially a large version of a boil in the bag cod. There is no smell quite like that of the inside of a superhero costume that has been in gainful employment for a summer’s afternoon.
World Book Day strikes fear into my heart. I briefly scroll through blogs and websites dedicated to dressing up ideas, staring with incredulity that anyone would want to spend the day wrapped in green foam, clutching an oversized strawberry and pretending to be a hungry caterpillar. I stare disconsolately at an image of a boy dressed as Willy Wonka, wondering just how long that outfit took to make and wondering if I collected all the discarded chocolate wrappers from around the house and stuck them to a tee shirt, if it would create a similar effect. I enquire with trepidation which book character my son wants to dress up as. Please let it be Harry Potter, I implore the God of Dressing Up like a Moron, please. I know, somewhere in the dressing up box, is a crumpled cloak, a pair of glasses and a gnarled, plastic wand. Harry Potter is the exception that proves the rule: I love Harry Potter fancy dress. It is basically school uniform with a few accessories, including one you can make with an eyeliner pencil. I mean, what is not to love about that?
“Errr… can I go as Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot?” An image flashes through my panicked mind, of me, at 3am, wrestling with a mountain of cardboard boxes, silver paint and oversized mouse ears.
“No.” I reply. “How about Harry Potter?”
“Errr… not really.”
“How about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Haribo?”
Briberarmus, as Harry might say.
So voting season is truly in full swing. There’s that little election-thingy on the horizon, but much more importantly are these two: The Dogs Doodah’s UK’s Funniest Blog 2015, for which Mothering Frights has been shortlisted and the Britmum’s Brilliance in Blogging 2015, where the blog could be nominated in the Family section. If you fancy casting your vote for this blog, I would be hugely appreciative and I won’t come round your house and whack you round the face with a wooden toilet flush. I know. I’m nice like that.