When I was about eight years old, my school held a disco. I’d already been to plenty of discos and I knew that there would be food and probably some games, and there would be music and I knew the moves to a lot of the songs. The faster songs you could just run around to but the slower songs you had to find someone to dance with. Simple! Only this disco was going to be different. It was a fancy dress disco. That meant that you had to go dressed up as somebody famous or as a character from a movie or a cartoon. I had a lot of ideas – perhaps I would go as Spiderman, because as it happened, I had some Spiderman pyjamas somewhere. Or at least I thought I did, it turned out my mum had given them away as hand-me-downs. Never mind, I thought, there are lots of cool characters I could dress up as, I’m bound to think of something great!
A couple of weeks went by and I’d actually forgotten all about the fancy dress disco and I was shocked when the other kids started asking me “what are you going as tonight?”
“Tonight?” “It’s a secret, you’ll have to wait and see”, I lied. I hadn’t got anything ready. Would it be too late to somehow conjure up an amazing costume from what I had in my wardrobe? After I got home I started to look at all the clothes – not just in my wardrobe but in everybody’s! I just didn’t get any inspiration. I started to think I might have to miss the disco. I started to rummage through the drawers trying to find anything that looked like the beginnings of a costume… a stamp collectors’ book, sticky tape, envelopes, glue, a washing basket, bicycle oil, a packet of one hundred green balloons – wait… why on earth did we have a packet of one hundred green balloons? My mum explained to me that they were for a St. Patrick’s Day party that never happened, but by the time she finished telling me, I didn’t care. I had found my costume!
I had a pair of dark green corduroy trousers which I almost never wore. I put them on immediately and then began to look for something green to wear on top. All I could find was y green cub scout jersey but it was covered in award patches. That couldn’t stop me now, though. I turned it inside-out and ran down to the kitchen. I climbed up onto the shelf in order to reach the top cupboard where I found the green food colouring. I took this upstairs and asked my sister to rub it all into my face and my hair which she willingly did. It’s the kind of thing she would have liked to have done without being asked but would have been worried about getting into trouble. Once we had expended the bottle of green food colouring and my face and hair were truly verdant, I ran into my mother’s bedroom to fetch her hairspray. I held my hair up while my sister sprayed it all over, again and again. “Make it look like something growing in the garden!” I told her. We had to dig out a little used hairdryer to try to dry off the food colouring, which was a slow process. At that time, we didn’t have the range and quality of hairdryers such as the ones featured in Ellie’s recent project.
When it came to blowing up the balloons, my sister decided to leave me alone. It took me a very long time to pump up around twenty green balloons with the air from my little lungs. Once they were all full, I stapled them by their ends to my sleeves, my jersey’s chest, waist and back and all down my trousers. I was finally ready to go to the fancy dress disco and I was certain that nobody had a costume like mine!
It took me a while to get out of the front door of my house, but once I was outside I ran all the way down the road to the hall where the disco was being held. Lord knows what passers-by must have thought when they saw me. Perhaps they thought aliens might have landed in our sleepy village?
I didn’t have time to ask myself that at the time. All that mattered was getting to the disco now. As I approached I could see the flashing lights through the tall windows of the hall and I could hear the music. A lady opened the door for me and welcome me inside. She looked me up and down and then suggested I go to sit down on the buffet table.
“On the buffet table? But why would I want to sit there? It’s full of food!”
“Exactly”, said the lady. “You’ll fit right in. We could really use a bunch of grapes. You look delicious, by the way!”