I have been waiting for an invitation to a ball for my entire life and when it came I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t dieted sufficiently to fit into the dress I’d planned to wear without the possibility of spillage of aforementioned bosoms and so it was that I found myself buying the highest heels you have ever seen, wearing another dress entirely and teasing my hair into frizzy submission, before stepping out with a man who looked utterly divine in a tuxedo. Even if he did say so himself.
It was raining. I felt pretty. I was carrying a bag I was a bit in love with and clutching on to my friend Jane for dear life because rain and silly shoes do not a good combination make, so when we hobbled into the entrance of the glamorous golf club where the whole shebang was being thrown, wasn’t it only natural that I should skid across the floor like a hippopotomous on ice-skates?
Hell yes. I’m a girl who likes to make an entrance.
And so it went on. You see never let it be said that I don’t like attention. I am she upon all eyes must fall (to Richards utter shame). It is me who must own the only bag it is impossible to open, thus drawing a crowd every time I declared the urge to show yet another unsuspecting soul my light up lipgloss. It is I, who will take her shoes off at the slightest opportunity, thus immediately rendering any hope of fooling other ball attendants into believing I am the epitome of glamour, when I trail across the dance floor with a length of toilet roll attached to my left foot. And it is I, my dearest lovely Housekeepers, who in the effort to hold my stomach in, wore a garment Richard described as an all in one girdle, with poppers in the gusset that wouldn’t stay popped, and had me jumping in and out my seat every ten minutes screeching as if I had been shot in the nether regions.
What was that? I’m over-sharing again? Why yes, I do believe that is what the good friends gathered around me on our table said too.
And speaking of our table: didn’t I find myself sitting on the only table in the room that went on fire? Yes indeed. You read that right. Our table went on fire, when a certain Mr Routledge chucked a napkin on to a candle and tried to put the flame out with a glass of wine, before all hell broke loose and water was thrown from all quarters, narrowly preventing many a over-hairsprayed do from going up in flames Micheal Jackson style.
So there we sat, in the wreckage of a beautifully dressed table, the stench of burnt tablecloth tickling our noses while we drank red wine we won in the table quiz, ate flying saucers from a jar rather delectably strung with an Eat Me label, and watched one girl head bang, while the deputy head of our school shimmied his way round the dance floor in a drunken fashion all by himself and another woman did a waltz with her baby. Because heckity pie, wasn’t Mother Earth there with her baby? A rather unexpected guest if ever there was one…
It was fun! There was sticky toffee pudding and a culinary adventure of sorts when I finally allowed pate to pass my lips for the first time in my life and immediately declared myself a a fan! There was an auction and a bidding war on our table, the sight of many a playground Dad strutting his stuff on the dancefloor, and the rather astonishing sight of Richards dancing face, because who knew?? Who knew my darling Heston Blumenthal looky-like could instantly transform himself into a balding John Travolta to the tune of “Dirty Dancing”? It was spectacular and unexpected and only over-shadowed when Jane’s husband Steve took to the floor and danced in a way that looked as if he had finally lost the (drunken) plot…
The night wore on. Siobhan looked beautiful, Kath looked like Grace Kelly and I looked like Helena Bonham Carter on a bad night. The men undid their bow ties and instantly rendered themselves handsome, carefree and distinguished and a group of middle aged men took to the stage and pretended to be the Stereophonics. Which was as scary as it sounds and twice as enjoyable. The baby fell asleep, I took my earrings out, Kath and I resorted to writing notes on napkins as the chances of being heard were slim to none and other peoples husbands whispered inappropriate sweet terrible somethings into the outraged ears of women who were not their wives. All I rather think, par for the course, at a school ball in the heart of gentrified suburbia…
And then it was over and declared something of a triumph, with all credit going to Jo who worked her socks off and managed to look gorgeous at the same time. Carriages were summoned. Shoes carried on index fingers and kisses pressed on to the cheeks of complete strangers, and then it was back to Kath’s lovely, warm living room for the requisite inquest. Who was wearing the most ludicrous dress? (Me?) Who’s marriage looked to be falling apart at the seams? Did I still think said drunken headmaster man was in my own ridiculous words, hot?? All the usual gossip fuelled by salt and vinegar crisps and yet more wine, until eyes started closing and one by one we began to spout exhausted nonsense and declared ourselves fit only for bed.
So Richard and I walked home in the rain and I pulled my ballgown over my head and collapsed in a cosy ball on top of a bed still littered with rejected dresses, the arm of my lovely man thrown over me as we held an inquest of our own, whispering quietly until birdsong broke our trail of thought and we slept.
Decadence becomes us don’t you know?