The perils of fancy dress

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BECAUSE I was exceptionally fastidious as a kid, avoiding all forms of rough-and-tumble that might leave dirt marks on my clothes or skin, I reacted with outrage when my parents announced they were taking me to a primary school fancy dress event dressed as a chimney sweep.

Despite the colossal tantrum I threw when I was told that this would mean donning rags and having my face and hands smeared with soot, mum and dad persisted and off I was dragged to a ghastly prepubescent gathering of mini witches and fairies and werewolves and pirates and the like.

Prizes were handed out for the best costumes, and, to my disgust, I was awarded one. I had to get up on stage to receive an Enid Blyton book.

This exposure doubly compounded my intense discomfit at appearing in public with a smutty face and filthy clothes.

I sulked for a week and trashed my prize. I HATED Enid Blyton books.

When I was 18 some friends pressured me into accompanying them to a ‘vice versa’ party. Men were to wear women’s clothes, and the women were to come as men.

I reluctantly agreed. I was given a mini-skirt and a wig by my friend Derek, but had to filch frilly underwear, stockings, shoes with stiletto heels and a bra from my mother’s wardrobe.

Of course I didn’t tell my parents about the party. But they found out anyway because I was dragged home drunk as a skunk at 3am by the local police, who found me staggering around town, wearing a large ornate lampshade for a hat, and belting out ‘I feel pretty, and witty and gay’ in a voice that would have given a macaw a migraine.

My outraged father implored the plods not to charge his pervy son for being drunk in charge of a mini-skirt and lampshade, and promised them he’d ground me for 10 years.

I vowed after that never again to dress up fancy, but my resolve crumbled when Benidorm staged its 2012 Gay Pride, and 65-year-old me decided to go as a native American.

I certainly had the colour for it, having soaked up sunshine for weeks prior to the parade.

Because I loved the attention I got, I then pulled out all the stops to become a zombie for Halloween.

I created the effect of rotting flesh by gluing thin slices of chorizo to my head, face and chest. Some folk were genuinely horrified and I was as pleased as punch.

I now know that, while being a zombie is perfectly acceptable (except to religious nutters who condemn Halloween as ‘satanic’), dressing up as a native American is ‘incredibly offensive,’ according to a US website called Scary Mommy, which said ‘basically, when you dress up as an Indian, you’re dressing up as a stereotype of an entire continent of people.

You wouldn’t dress up as an Australian or as an African. Another US website advised people not dress up as Mexicans for the annual Cinco de Mayo holiday, which celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over French forces in the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

It said if one wears a sombrero, or a stick-on moustache, or brandishes maracas, this is called ‘cultural appropriation’ and is to be avoided at all costs.

You can’t even dress up in religiously-themed costumes without having ‘cultural appropriation’ thrown in your face.

This happened when the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art recently made Catholic apparel the theme of an exhibition called ‘Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.’

A great many Catholics were appalled at the sight of pop idol, Rihanna dressed as a pope.

Me? I thought she looked absolutely fabulous, and, given that the exhibition had the full support of the Vatican, I think those who shrieked ‘blasphemy’ were being hypersensitive jerks.

The world has many serious problems that need urgent attention. What people wear at fancy dress events most certainly isn’t one of them.

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