I have had the utter misfortune to be invited to a fancy dress party and I hate fancy dress. No, wait, I fear I may have not made myself clear. I abhor fancy dress with a passion and utterly refuse to attend. Whilst those around me may be squealing with delight at the prospect of donning ridiculous garb and having a right old knees up, I am grinding my teeth into barely visible nubs of enamel just contemplating it. It is the thought of all those hilarious people, dressed in hilarious clothes, having a hilarious time. Perhaps that is the root of my hatred: people in fancy dress have to have a good time – in fact, it is written in party law (under the sub-section ‘Organised Fun for those who should know better’) that people in fancy dress must be having The Most Fun That They Have Ever Had. Because dressed as Superman, you simply can’t sit slumped on the sofa with a face like a slapped arse with piles. You would no longer be Superman, you’d just be an twat who’s got the hump in a shiny cape.
And to make matters worse, the host of such a party simply must have the most elaborate costume of all, in order to simultaneously demonstrate that they have more money and more fancy dress flair – ergo, they will enjoy themselves considerably more than you. This is ably demonstrated by the well known fancy dress equation E2 + H x £ = MF10 (for those of you not versed in the science of fancy dress, this is Elaboration [doubled], plus Host, multiplied by Cash equals ten times More Fun). So whilst you might don a long dress found under a pile of shoes at the bottom of your wardrobe and a cheap string of beads for the Elizabethan party, the host will greet you at their door wearing a hand-made diamante headpiece, a ten foot diameter bustle trimmed with antique lace, a vertiginous wig made from human hair and an entourage of six vertically challenged footmen serving mulled wine.
I have actually attended a fancy dress party – once. I was possibly persuaded to attend by the mention of a free bar and I went as a Hula girl. But not for me a grass skirt made out of plastic strips that threatened to combust if I got within ten paces of a cigarette, coupled with a garland of paper flowers that scratched my chin and left colour stains on my neck so it looked like I had contracted some nasty skin disease. Oh no. My costume comprised a cardboard band round my head on which I sellotaped a length of wire vertically, onto the top of which I attached a single Hula Hoop. Ta da… a Hula girl. The benefits of this costume were three-fold: the entire costume took approximately eight seconds to make, I could scoff an entire pack of Hula Hoops (minus one) down my gullet whilst making it, and I got to wear my own clothes to the party. And this is where the payback really was, as I could get in and out of a taxi without tripping over my own comedy shoes, or bashing my uproariously funny hat, or stepping on some swathe of fabric that hung from my costume. I could also go to the toilet without the assistance of two friends and a crow bar to pull the bee costume away from the danger area. And lastly, I could get the tube home without the ’I’ve been to a fancy dress party and had a fabulous time, but now, sat here all alone on the Central Line, I look like a total fuckwit dressed as a slightly rubbish Elvis’.
Astoundingly, I did actually win the fancy dress competition that night – I suspect the judges had been making liberal use of the free bar amenities before they cast judgement. And it was much to the chagrin of those who had waddled their way round the evening dressed as a penguin, or who had thought clown shoes were just the ticket until they fell over and broke their nose, or those who sustained a nasty poke in the eye from their own plastic pirate hook. After that party, I hung up my crown (or rather my Hula Hoop) and vowed never to attend another fancy dress party again.