Have no idea how brides do it. Thought I had everything sorted for ball tonight; realised this morning that this was NOT THE CASE. Yesterday mother asked me if I was taking a bag. I said no, will only need keys, that’s what boys’ pockets are for. Mother looked deeply dubious re: this unaccustomed minimalism, as well she might. Realised last night in fact would need camera, phone, bus/taxi money and thus clutch bag. Own nothing suitable; rush to town, buy bag for semi-extortionate sum while in wild haze of despair. Bag is beautiful, certainly, but economic implications do not hit me until am actually leaving shop,when fog of saleswoman-induced stupefaction lifts and instantly remember list of all the cheaper places I should have gone to first. Accessorize fortunately comes up trumps by offering only plastic horrors; Primark again in state of hideousness. Nearly buy black patent shoes in bizarre displacement activity to lift depression re: money just spent, but realise madness.
While still in Primark, get distracted by possibility of things could wear for Pride (v good rainbow selection), then by makeup section (could poss buy nail varnish & eyeliner here in manner of thrift). Then recollect that since I am apparently incredibly allergic to Veet — used it three days ago, legs like sunburn, thank god dress is long — will undoubtedly react like ploughed field to Primark makeup.
Proceed to Boots, acquire incredibly expensive razor blades (toxic Veet originally intended as thriftful alternative to same) and incredibly cheap nail varnish, cheer self up by recollecting that since have borrowed dress and already owned shoes, bag necessary and justifiable purchase. This would be truer if had not yesterday spent £20 on silk wrap. Decide that will use bag for every formal occasion for rest of life, including marriage should I have one (do brides have bags? They should do). Then realise that yet again Have No Food In and will presumably need to eat pre-ball, rectify this, ponder horrific complexity of cosmetic procedures. Field calls re: taxis, wheelchair access, what-constitutes-white-tie (cheering me slightly that boys have some share in the horror) and hungover friend who last night defenestrated his wristband and dreads the consequences.
Is strange. I do not have a particularly large or unusual body – am not afflicted by warts, or fur, extra head or scaly limb AND YET every bit of it seems to require intricate and costly cosmetic procedures. I have not had my eyebrows rethreaded, my nails done or anything waxed. AND YET I am constantly thinking ohgod elbows, ohgod back(ne) ohgod do I need VOLUMIZING SPRAY (I do not). Possibly this makes me a slave to the patriarchy, or slatternly, or a bit OCD. If I do ever get married, there are only two alternatives: have the WHOLE THING (i.e. self, body, maquillage) entirely catered by professionals from moment of waking, or elope and wear jeans. Or in my case, jeans and a cream silk clutch bag.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.