I am invited to a fancy dress party by one of the boys I met at Lucy's party. Finding a suitable costume will be challenging; it is necessary to be cool, alluring, individual (but not too individual) and wear as few clothes as possible - while at the same time avoiding the gimlet gaze of Mum who might make me stay at home and do my homework.
I enlist Nan's help; she understands that girls just wanna have fun , has wardrobes of interesting clothes left over from the 1950s and has gone out in some pretty shocking outfits in her time. There are still problems to be overcome: I am 8 inches taller and 5 dress sizes smaller (viz Twiggy and Barbara Windsor - only from the neck down). A red velvet cocktail dress takes my eye, but I (sadly) do no have the curves to fill it. Nan (I feel) is not taking this sartorial conundrum as seriously as she should, for instance her repeated suggestion that I dress as an old lady with a head scarf, shopping bag and falling-down stockings. After much sighing and huffing on my part she pulls out a colourful floral dirndl skirt with a sticky-out petticoat, a white embroidered peasant-style blouse and announces I would make a good gypsy. No - I am not a swarthy, dark-haired flashing-eyed voluptuous Carmen-type, but skinny, mousy and freckled. Although not at all convinced I give in because a) my lift has arrived (Uncle in his Ford Cortina) and b) I cannot resist the lure of the charming Piers - slightly punky, when off school premises (a good look) or traditional Sloane-wear (rugby shirt with turned-up collar) - when within the hallowed grounds (not quite so good).
So there I am - the most anaemic romany princess in all of Oxfordshire wearing an off-the-shoulder top made for a woman with the frontage of Diana Dors (I'm getting worried about the recurrence of off-the-shoulder outfits in my fashion history), enormous hoop earrings (very bling - or tarty as we said in the olden days). Footwear proved a problem - Nan has feet the size of Miss Piggy's and I only have my cowboy boots which she says won't do for the authentic gypsy vibe. She suggests I go bare-footed and I (idiot that I am) agree.
Uncle drives me to the school. Unfortunately the party is taking place in the cricket pavilion - to get there involves a lengthy walk over wet playing fields. I make my great entrance with mud up to my ankles and hide in a corner while I survey the scene. I am a lone gypsy in a room full of girls wearing variations on the 'sexy' outfit: sexy school girls (think Britney) and sexy tights/leotard combos (think haven't finished getting dressed). Remind self not to ask Nan's advice about anything to do with clothes ever again.
Needless to say it wasn't a great evening. Piers obviously preferred the schoolgirl-look to the gypsy - perhaps he had premonitions of Big Fat Gypsy Wedding? The evening ended with me trudging back to meet Uncle, who loyally said I looked nice and offered me a Murray Mint - I would like to say that this made it better, but it really didn't.