Tuesday, 27 November 2007


The only man to ask me to dance only did so after a sharp poke in the ribs by his elderly mother’s walking stick. We shuffled uncomfortably opposite each other for the interminable length of the record, before he dismissed himself with a Darcyesque bow – that’s where the comparison ends and he settled himself once more at his mother’s side.
I slugged another glass of champagne and for the nth time readjusted my décolletage. Looking around me at Wiltshire’s beautiful set I tried to resist the urge to pull off a table cloth and wrap it around myself. Never had I felt so inappropriately and badly dressed.
‘Vintage Glamour’, read the invitation. I have plenty of clothes that fit the bill, or at least a nice bit of velvet that can be dressed up with the appropriate sparkle and bling, why then did I follow my friend’s advice - whose party it was, to wear a corset.
“We’re all wearing them darling”, she purred down the phone, “I really want a burlesque party but as mummy is going to be there, I really didn’t want to see her exposed. Ugh”, she shuddered, “Perish the thought. But you and I and my best friends can wear our corsets. Didn’t you buy one recently?”
Ah yes, I did and when I wore it I genuinely thought I was the dogs you-know-what but to be fair I wasn’t wandering around in it. I was not aware of how badly it fitted me, given the last and only other time I’d worn it I’d been lying down with a very appreciative audience. To now find, with nothing else to change into that the ‘boning’ warped, oh so unattractively above my bottom and that the cups would not, however much I tried to persuade them, adhere themselves to my bosom, thereby displaying a generous and mesmerising embonpoint. Instead the bloody material rode up every two minutes leaving the cups somewhere under my chin and my breasts near my waist. It’s not a look that’ll catch on.
Hubby had been left behind to nurse the ever vomiting Red-Head. To leave her wan on the sofa was not an easy decision but after much nagging from the friend whose party it was and Hubby, who’d had enough of me, I decided to go, albeit anxiously. Filling up with petrol at South Brent service station I rang home to be told that the Red-Head was now eating an apple. An hour later Hubby rang with the news that she was dancing along with the stars of Strictly and by the time I arrived, was playing Barbies with her sister.
Never in my life have I been to such a glamorous party, although it has to be said that I am a sucker for a pair of bay trees robed in fairy lights and, as these were the first things to greet me outside an exquisite marquee that housed chandeliers, silver chairs and floral displays that would have had Elton John green with envy, I felt as though I were Alice in Wonderland walking into the pages of House Beautiful magazine. My hostess, who was not dressed in a cheap corset with an old skirt pinned up to display a bit of leg, greeted me in what can only be described as what Marie Antoinette might have worn under her frocks. Gold brocade, strings of pearls, silk and enough lacing at the back to satisfy the most insatiable fetishist, she looked a million dollars or indeed every penny of her bespoke corset.
Champagne flowed freely accompanied by a variety of high class canapés. They most certainly do not do vol au vents in Wiltshire, in fact I doubt that half the fashionable ingredients have yet to hit the shelves of the South West and I ate far too many before sitting down to a dinner of venison. As my dad said, “Well, well fancy. They gave you a hot dinner as well?” He doesn’t get out much these days.
Of course the darlings at my table who were as thin as I am corpulent, graciously refused the canapés and picked at the venison, whilst I ate rapaciously and gluttonously, only too happy to enjoy such fine food. I was born in the wrong century. Had I been a Georgian I’d have been feted for my appetite and handsome hips. Unfortunately I was a 60’s baby and as such expected to grow up thin and willowy. There were far too many thin and willowy types there for my liking and whilst I didn’t have a beau to dance with, I was actually relieved that Hubby wasn’t with me there is no way I’d have believed his feeble, “But you look great Alice love”, as his eyes belayed his lust for another gal.
Having literally licked my plate clean and all had been cleared away, my table played a game of ‘fantasy shag’ which is akin to fantasy football only with a slightly smaller team. When this game caused a little consternation between a couple due to their choice of lover - it’s never a good idea to say ‘your best friend’ - everyone took to the dance floor. The good, great and gorgeous shimmied, sparkled and shone, whilst I sat like a spinster aunt, smiling benignly on. This is when the gentleman, prodded by his mother came on the scene. After our awkward dance, I was only too thrilled that he returned to his mama: the idea of being chatted up by him was too awful to contemplate. Unfortunately they were sitting right next to me and as I threw a glass of champagne down my throat I overheard his mother whisper rather too audibly, “But Charlie darling press on, she looks as though she’d be so grateful ". It taught me a lesson though. Never, ever go alone nor dress down, unless under the age of 20. You may just get away with it then.


Sally Lomax said...

"It’s not a look that’ll catch on"

I loved the understatement of this.... I laughed loudly...

It sounds as though your hostess didn't exactly prepare you for the the right look....

And as for "Mama"... I think maybe you should have borrowed her stick, poked her back in the ribs and told her that "thank you very much, but I am happily married with four children."

Cheek of the woman!

And besides, I bet you looked gorgeous anyway!

Alice Band said...

Sally - my hostess prepared me well but I forgot how beautiful they all are and how, sometimes you just have to spend the money!

Mary Alice said...

me too "it's not a look that will catch on" had me rolling. Good Lord that sounds like a torture. I have been known to leave a ball and remove all sucking and uplifting devises in the car and the shoes too. Yes, don't go without the husband again....or at least without me, we would have such fun eating all the canapes, whilst looking Georgian and making fun of the whispy little women!

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice - Let's not forget that this was my friend's fabulous party and whilst whispy and exquisite, I love her dearly!

Welshbird said...

This reminds me of a disastrous May Ball I attended in college.

I hired a strapless crinoline gown. First mistake. I should have practised sitting down in hoops - I'm not sure everyone needed to be treated to a view of my suspenders.

I thought I would redeem myself with the final finale of all of the Saturday mornings of my youth spent at the Marjorie Sanderson School of Dancing, and took to the floor with a South American gentleman to rumba like a good'un.

That was the point at which the elastic went in the top of my dress.

Obviously the evening was intended as 'Welshbird shows all'.

I do understand your discomfort. I'm blushing at my desk with the shame of it all, and it was 22 years ago.

Alice Band said...

Welshbird = a new face, welcome! I too am a welsh bird!

Lisa said...

Oh, Alice, poor you! I felt uncomfortable for you just reading it. At first I was reminded of Bridget Jones' diary when she shows up to the Tarts and Vicars party, but it sounds like it was too painful to be funny.
Loved the 'best friend' part of the fantasy shag (obviously they had never played THAT game before!)I'm sure that conversation continued long after they left the party.

Welshbird said...

(I might have more than one identity!)

Roads said...

I agree - that 'best friend' quip was certainly my favourite moment of this piece.

Very much a Hugh Grant kind of line.

You ought to send your scripts to Working Title, Alice.

Domestically Challenged said...

Dear Alice

Are you blind?
You looked amazing, and the rest of us were neither wispy or little (just constricted) ....think you need an eye test.

Him indoors is a lucky chap!

Much love

Alice Band said...

DC - Not wispy, willowy! Kind words, thankyou but compared to you, Hostess with Mostess and Scarlet Woman, like I said I looked like a prostitute down on her luck!!!! Great party though.

Domestically Challenged said...

Dear Alice,

It's said that 'Fine feathers make fine birds'...

....the trouble with that, is when the 'feathers' come off, the husband has been lulled into a false sense of skinnydom, and is in for a shock...all that wobbly flesh let loose! Not pretty.

If you want some 'feathers' - I'll tell you where to go!
Still think you need an eye test!

Lol DC

Mopsa said...

Oh goodness, I felt I was there, hitching at my underwear as outerwear.