I have been to a few fancy-dress parties, and was recently reminded of one that nearly ended in disaster – or at the very least, extreme embarrassment.
It was to be held not far from my home in Ealing – and casting around for ideas, I decided to go dressed as Jesus. A couple of sheets and a false beard were all that were needed, and though I say so myself, the simple costume was surprisingly effective.
I met a girl at the party, and at the end of the evening I offered her a lift home in my ‘new’ car. The car was an old Ford Popular, colloquially known as a ‘sit-up-and-beg’; three gears, side-valve engine and rod-and-cable brakes. Basic, but generally reliable. Later in the year I was to drive it to Scotland and back.
I drove her to her home in Putney, eight or ten miles distant. I was invited in for (just) a cup of coffee, and stayed for an hour or so before leaving. As I drove down the road, I glanced at the fuel gauge – it indicated empty. It was around 2 AM on a Sunday morning, and in 1968 there were very few if any petrol stations open so late. How to find one, and then have to pay in my fancy-dress garb? But that was not the main problem. I was wearing a false beard, sandals, underpants, two sheets and … nothing else. I had not thought to bring any money to what was a local party, and in any case, where would I put it? What on earth would I do if I ran out of petrol? Sleep in the car until the next day, and then what?
The Ford Popular was not noted for its fuel economy. I drove back to Ealing as carefully as I have ever driven before, a minimum of acceleration, as high gears as possible and plenty of coasting. And I made it home with what must have been just a smell of petrol in the tank.
I never saw the girl again. The next such party I went to, I dressed up as a mummy and won a prize. I made sure though that beneath the bandages I wore normal clothes with pockets and some money …
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs