Granted, there’d been a moment of consternation earlier: the virtual invitation had said ‘Business Casual’. What did this mean, particularly if one were a superannuated Lez-Been-going-on-Haz-Been? Dockers and golf shirt from Target? One’s nicest, if also somewhat shapeless, elastic-waist pants? A Churchillian boiler-suit? Brushing one’s hair? As it turns out, we have all three opted this evening for a Boomerish, sixty-something-but-still-hot Bea Arthur look: long woolly sweater-coat thingies on the outside – the main event is to be held in a giant garden tent behind the sponsor’s house and will likely be wet and cold – co-ordinated with cellulite-binding Patagonia jeggings and lovely lady-invert tops with Nehru collars. Footwear-wise Blakey has gone most rad: pointy stilettos à la Alice and friends in The L Word; but Bev is also v. glamorous in a pair of très bijou tenderfoot booties. I’ve opted for classic Teddy Girl spats and a tiny Santa hat, all in the possibly vain hope that Cate Blanchett (pensive, fur-coated, alone) will by some miracle be attending the festivities and mistake me for the nubile Therese in Carol. None of these stylish accoutrements, as it happens, will prove sufficient protection against what is actually to come: two freezing hours in a vast backyard mud-slough all too reminiscent of Ypres in 1917. Still – tiny spoiler alert – a welcome rush of sartorial vindication will later come our way in the form of HRC’s Dr Scholl’s low-rider pumps and tragicomic Mongolian shepherdess pantsuit. . . .
Having now watched the drill, though, I realise how unprepared I am. Freakishly for me – lover of anxiety-numbing artifices – I haven’t rehearsed any jokey badinage to cast in HRC’s direction on being introduced; nor even tried out possible facial expressions in the mirror. The moment has arrived and I simply don’t know what to do. Thus it unfolds that even as Her (Mostly) Incorruptible Majesty reaches appreciatively for my hand, I am mortified to hear myself squeak out – like a dying baby bat mewling helplessly for its mother: ‘SORRYMYHANDISSOCOLD.’ Just that – all in a rush, all in a preternaturally silly little voice. Instant self-imposed death sentence: one’s inner Devil Girl (fangs filed down, claws tucked away) has suddenly gone dopey and shy. SORRYMYHANDISSOCOLD! – indeed. Good luck with that.
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