Monday, 27 February 2012

Dress it Up However You Like...

...World Book Day is starting to stress me out. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for a day dedicated to books and reading, it's just the costume aspect that is causing me grief. Just in case you are unfamiliar with the concept, World Book Day is a UNESCO initiative, held once a year to promote reading, publishing and copyright. In fact, it's full title is 'World Book (and Copyright) Day. No sneaky 'homers' on the work's photocopier on that day, folks! 'Which day?' I hear you ask. Well, therein lies another little snippet of information for you: almost the whole world celebrates World Book Day on 23rd April, but in the UK and Ireland, we celebrate it on the first Thursday in March. The 23rd of April often coincides with Easter holidays, which is why our celebration is earlier. Of course, this may lead you to suspect that it is therefore not World Book Day, but just 'Local Book Day, for Local People'... whatever!

So, back to the costumes, it is fast becoming a UK tradition that on World Book Day, or the Friday nearest to it, in the case of the Mouse and TR's school, children dress up as a book character for the day. Last year the Mouse chose to go as Pippi Longstocking, which was a fabulously easy costume to put together. All she needed were ordinary, but mismatching clothes, a few extra freckles (drawn on with eyeliner pencil), hair in plaits and a toy orang-utan to represent Mr Nilsson (who was actually a monkey, but we did what we could). TR opted to go as Ben, from the book 'Penguin'. Apart from some eleventh hour rushing about to find him some starry pyjamas (thank you, M&S, for not only selling them but for putting a pair by for me) that was pretty easy too. It had the added bonus of providing TR with the impetus to do a bit of box modelling and he still has the cardboard rocket he built as his prop. He still wears he pyjamas too!

Fast forward to this year and the Mouse recently won a Lauren Child competition, which means she is now the proud owner of a Ruby Redfort selection of goodies and is planning to go as Ruby, teen super-sleuth. That's easy enough - jeans, trainers (or 'sneakers' as Ruby would call them) and her new Ruby Redfort T-shirt: sorted!

Lauren Child

TR has prevaricated somewhat on the topic of who he wants to dress as. This is further complicated by the news that, this year, the children need to pick a book character who is like themselves in some way. Mr Ruby casually enquired whether there was a Mr Men chracter called, 'Mr Ranty,' which provoked a - well, a rant - from TR. (If you're interested, there isn't. There is a Mr Grumpy but any grumpiness on TR's part is possibly attributble to his father's enquiry.) TR is quite a stickler for rules and is interpreting the 'like me' requirement very literally. Thus all Mr Men are out of the question because, 'I am not blue/red/yellow/square/a triangle,' etc. I have tried explaining the idea of characteristics but either it has not been well-received or it is a concept too far. Frankly, if you can't explain personality and characteristics via the mono-characteristc Mr Men, you're not onto a good thing. Accordingly I have given up. For now.

TR contemplated going as 'Where's Wally?' (That's 'Where's Waldo?' for my American public), which got me worrying about sourcing a red and white striped top. Unfortunately the stripes on his Brentford top are vertical, whereas Wally's are horizontal. I've no idea how he is like Wally. Mercifully I have never lost him in a crowd, so can't comment on how easy he is to find. 
There he is!
While I was contemplating this costume, he changed his mind and said he wanted to go as the whale from Julia Donaldson's 'The Snail and the Whale'. TR's reasoning for this was, 'I am big and I like swimming.' I won't comment on that. If you know TR, I know you are now laughing. My mum and my cousin sent me links to whale costume ideas and I contemplated making a whale (not an actual whale - that would require a lab, at least, if not two willing and eager whales). At this point,TR announced that he wants to go as the little boy from 'How to Catch a Star' by Oliver Jeffers and I breathed a sigh of relief. This book character wears jeans and a top - a red and white striped top. De ja vu, anyone? So, now I'm back to trying to find a red and white striped top.

Well, that really doesn't sound too bad does it, all things considered? No, well it wasn't, until I discovered, that I have to dress up too. I quite like the idea of dressing-up and do harbour a secret wish to roam the streets dressed as a pirate, or maybe a Victorian woman, but in practice I can't see me pulling it off. Odd that, because as a child I loved to dress up. Even when not in costume, I was mainly in character. Thus in my ordinary clothes, I was away in my mind, living an extrordinary life. Not any more: now I revel in my Not Very Interesting Life and see it as a bonus if a week goes by without me having to achieve anything extrordinary. Still, I was willing to get over myself, as they say, and don something for the day. Half a day, in fact. Only now I was faced with the same problem as TR: which book character am I like? Over the years I've taken on various literary heroines and claimed them as my own but times and people change and I'm not sure I want to be a middle-aged Anne of Green Gables. I may have got my Gilbert, in Mr Ruby, but I guess I still think of Anne as a young woman: I've aged, Anne hasn't.

Back to the Mr Men, then. Surely I could come up with a single facet of my personality that would be represented in one of the Mr Men? I asked TR for advce and his reply was, 'Well, you're not like Little Miss Somersault because you've got short legs [harsh, but true] and you're not like Little Miss Late because you're only late for most things, not everything [the boy has my number!] but you are like Little Miss Sunshine because you are very smiley and you like to be happy.'

Good save, TR. The boy will go far!  So, Little Miss Sunshine it was... until I realised I own nothing yellow. A quick  look at the back of a Mr Men book and a Little Miss book, where all the characters are pictured, gave me the idea of Mr Jelly. I'm easily startled (I recently jumped at my own reflection - true story!) and I own a bright pink jumper. Sorted! Of course, there was the problem of how to look wobbly. Mr Ruby had some suggestions to make on the topic, but I'm not about to type them here. Then a second problem occurred to me: what was I to wear on my legs? I don't own pink trousers. Back to the drawing board back of the book! My mum, who clearly went to the same diplomacy classes as her grandson and son-in-law, suggested Mr Forgetful.

That's me, that is.

She's got a point: if it isn't written down and attached to my person, accompanied by beeps and reminders, I will forget it. I like to blame the lupus, even naming the phenomenon of my extreme forgetfulness as 'stupus' but who knows if it's not just senior moments come early? A quick check of the back of the book revealed that Mr F is blue - hurrah! I can dress all in blue! He's also pretty much circular, which could be a little harder achieve. I've decided to approach this via the method-acting route, so if you see me between now and Friday, expect to see me stuffing my face with cake.

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