… World Book Day and Dressing Up for School: or “What’ve we got that would do?”

“Night night, darling.” I whisper to my sleeping son on my way up to bed.

He stirs.

“Night, Dad”


“Dad?  I need to go to school dressed as a Roman tomorrow.”  He rolls over and with a snuggle into his quilt, he’s asleep again.

I press the button which sets off the flashing red light in our bedroom marked “What’ve we got that would do?” and Mrs Brown leaps into action.  One pair of sandals, one belted oversized T-shirt, a pillow case and assorted dressing-up plastic tat later and we’re in business. 

Our own little Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North.

But in crocs.

We have this down to a fine art.

With a bit of warning and a high level of skill Mrs. Brown can produce a period-authentic, immaculately hand-stitched work of brilliance.  With a staple gun and a cardboard box I can knock up accessories.

Hers are much better.

Mine are much bigger.

We are both strongly of the opinion that buying the costume is cheating. 

As my grandmother used to say:

A bought Oompa Loompa is a cheating Oompa Loompa. 

And a prick!

So we spend late Sunday evening assembling a costume, swearing and complaining.

But it’s totally worth it the next morning when, for example,  you see thirty amazing kids dressed as ancient Egyptians.

But in their anoraks. 

Because it’s Manchester and it’s November so they can’t go out without a coat.

I’m sure Pharaoh Ramesses II’s mother would have said the same.

At least theme days give us a bit of a start.  It’s even worse when we don’t have any guidance and we have the paralyisis of choice. 

I’m looking at you, World Book Day!

“I want to go as a whale!”

We try to steer the choice.  Hang on! He’s got a pirate outfit.

“Captain Hook?”

“I went as him last year”

“Do you know who Long John Silver is?” I ask hopefully.

We’ve even tried the technique of accessorizing differently to double-up.

Innkeeper #3 + cardboard camel = Egyptian Day sorted.

Willy Wonka + Stuffed Cuddly Parrot = Dr Doolittle.

Some parents have clearly been more successful than me at influencing their kids’ choices.  A quarter of the boys come in full Man United football kit having dressed as their favourite character from the Rothman’s Football Yearbook 2020-21.

You can also tell which of the teachers’ hearts are still in it, based on how much they throw themselves into dressing up.  The Cleopatra costume with full eye makeup, headdress and asp was too much.  The normal clothes and “I’ve come as the teacher out of….” is not enough.  The teacher who came in in full police uniform with real handcuffs for “People Who Help Us” Day asks more questions than it answers.  She knows who she is!

I have visons of teachers having whole wardrobes of fancy dress because the know that Roman/ Egyptian/ Bring a Badger to Work Day come around every year.

You don’t even need to spend a fortune or take hours making costumes.

Glasses and a stick? Harry Potter!

Just a stick?  Congratulations.  You can be Hermione.

So, you have to play. 

You can’t not join in.

There would be nothing more embarrassing than being the only kid whose parents get the day wrong (or forget) and send their child in in full school uniform when everyone else is in fancy dress.

Except possibly getting the day wrong or forgetting, and being the only kid in in full fancy dress when everyone else is in school uniform.

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