Okay. I'm sat here, at my keyboard, typing, in a Miss Havisham outfit; full Regency decaying lace gown, mittens, and heeled shoes. This Miss Havisham outfit in the picture to the left, as it happens. And God, I'm nervous. The party? 'Horror in fiction.' - the annual English Lit university bash. I'm technically supposed to be one of those drivelling Gothic heroines - Elizabeth, who gets strangled by the Monster in Frankenstein - or one of the wet ones from Mysteries of Udolpho who recite poetry and get threatened by brooding dark Guy de Lusignan look-alikes. I'm kinda wishing I'd just done Hermione instead of looking like a deranged Elizabeth Bennet - it's a lot easier to get into a taxi, after all. No ugh - long trains that get caught on shoe heels or in doors and stuff to worry about.
But - here's the thing. When there's a dressing-up party I get carried away. Last time I was Mrs Lovett, instead of just being Goth I eagerly dug up an old theatrical brown crinoline costume no-one wanted and went all eh... overboard, shall we say...
And now there's Miss Havisham. I have no excuse for Miss Havisham.
Perhaps I'd better explain. In Manchester, there is a theatre, called The Royal Exchange. And there is a place called Royal Exchange Costume Hire.
Yup. Actual costumes from actual productions.
This is very stupid where people like myself are concerned. You can volunteer to work there, serve customers, and get free theatre tickets in return - and of course, since you know about it, get costumes from there.
I'm now officially a costume junkie. It's the biggest dressing up box any potty little girl can imagine. I've tried on Georgian polonaises from She Stoops to Conquer, Tudor gowns from various Shakespearean productions - a half-score of weeny, breathe-in-and maybe you-won't pass-out-before -you-can-peek-in-the-mirror gowns from Oscar Wilde plays. Miss Havisham was in a version of Great Expectations I actually went to see.And now I'm sitting here, typing, wearing the costume. Phew!
But no denying, it has been an education. For a start, corsets, Georgian, Victorian or any period at all, hurt. Seriously. It's amazing, considering the whole 'I can't breathe!' thing of recent films, Keira Knightley, etc, etc, that I assume corsets were pain-free, but soemhow I just went 'ooh the romance!'
Don't be fooled! They hurt, you end up directing all conversation to your boobs rather than your face (don't ask) and you'll have marks from the steel/plastic whalebone substitutes for about a week afterwards.
But there, rant over. ASIDE from horrible corsets of evil, it's a little girl's party princess historically accurate dream.
And, as it happens there just happens to be a medieval-themed birthday party coming up that gives me the perfect excuse to try on a red and gold sequinned gown that could be suspiciously like Sybilla from Kingdom of Heaven....
Ah well. No matter it's a size 8 because actresses are all size zero! Just breathe in and smile so you can live the dream, darling...