Next weekend, like Cinderella, I am going to the ball. It's not the one with glass slippers and unavoidable clock chimes. This one is organised by the PTA at the primary school that my children attend and it is reputably a good night out.
I say reputably because, whilst I have been to the school ball before, that was many moons and several PTA committees ago. Having attended every year for quite some time, we suddenly stopped going. There were two reasons for this and both of them are inextricably linked to the peculiar quirks of my personality. Firstly, I'm not awfully good at pushing myself forward. When the first two children were at the school, there was a group of parents that I'd got to know reasonably well. It was therefore quite easy to muster numbers for a table-full. But then their children grew up and moved on. I stayed connected to the school though my younger two but now had no obvious group of friends and lacked the courage to ask people outright if I could sit with them. So I didn't go.
The next reason is even sillier. The venue changed from a hotel in town to somewhere a twenty minute drive away and with the change went the element of control which is the lifeblood of my existence. If I can't leave somewhere when I want to, then I'm very unlikely to go. I know it's mad but there you have it. That's me. So, as I couldn't walk home, I stopped going.
But what to wear? Remember I am four or five years out of the ball going circuit. What are the ball gowns of choice for a forty-four year old girl these days?
My first ball was the Law Ball at Manchester University in 1986. It was a smart do at the Midland Hotel and I had a blue dress with a big bow on the bum. I bought it in Laura Ashley, which at the time did a mean line in flouncy frocks. Back then it was easy. If you went to a ball you wore a ball gown. They were, in the main, hideous but we all looked equally awful so it didn't really matter.
But last time I went to the school ball it seemed that anything went. There were some formal dresses, some shorter cocktail dresses, some things that you might wear out to dinner and one or two shockers that really shouldn't have been worn out at all. So what's a girl to do? I have a few dresses that might do but I'm really not sure. What I would like to do is sneak up there, see what everyone else is wearing, nip home and dress accordingly. Sadly, that option is not awfully practical so I am going to have to make a decision all by myself.
But it's hard. If you go somewhere dressed in the wrong thing it can totally wreck your night especially if, like me, you're not a big drinker and can't hide your embarrassment in the bottom of your wine glass. So I have decided to carry out a little fashion parade in front of my family and see what they think. I have two realistic options I think. I did have three but then my fourteen year old tried one of them on and looked fantastic in it which immediately resulted in its relegation. Hopefully, the advice of my own little band of Gok Wans will be sound and I will turn up looking at least like I'm at the right do and hopefully looking nice.
Sometimes, it would be so much easier to be a boy.