Today is World Book Day (Well it was when I posted this!). Happy World Book day to all of you!
I thought that I would take the opportunity today to share an embarrassing tale from my childhood with you. It takes place on World Book Day many years ago, I'm not just telling you random embarrassing tales here!
This would have been one of the first World Book Days back in the mid to late nineties. I can't remember exactly what year it was but I was still at junior school. For those of you not from the UK that equates to being aged around 6-10 years old. We were told several weeks in advance that World Book Day was coming up and as part of the day we would not have to wear normal school uniform. I don't know about you but personally I was never a fan of my school uniform (I still can't bring myself to wear navy blue to this day!) and any excuse to wear something different was fine by me. We were going to spend the day doing all kinds of activities related to books. We were going to receive a book voucher. We were going to spend the day dressed as our favourite book characters.
Hang on! We are going to be in fancy dress?!
Suddenly school uniform didn't seem so bad. I'm not a fan of fancy dress (Yes I'm fully aware I'm a miserable bastard!) and I will always look for the option which allows me to dress fairly normally. I have had this attitude towards fancy dress from a very young age. It was this very attitude which lead to me hatching my master plan to end up wearing fairly normal clothes on World Book Day.
Growing up I was a fan of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. My plan involved spending the day dressed as my favourite character from the books, Martin the warrior mouse. Now I know most of you are probably wondering how I was planning to pull off a day dressed as Martin the Mouse whilst not having to endure fancy dress. I had a plan. It was a cunning plan. A plan which my young mind could not see going wrong in any way whatsoever.
The plan as I envisaged it involved me wearing an all black tracksuit. Fairly normal clothing for a young boy. Over the top of this I would wear the cheap plastic armour that accompanied the sale of plastic swords and shields. I would paint my face like a mouse and wear a plastic helmet to match the armour. Now I realise most of you are keen to point out at this stage that I would in fact be dressed in fancy dress and with my face painted as well I would have gone to some lengths to finish the look. I totally agree. For this plan to work it needed to seem like I was eager to dress up as my favourite character. The plastic armour that was sold very cheaply was totally impractical to sit down in so there was no chance of me wearing it all day. My teacher would have no choice other than to ask me to take it off. There was also no chance of teachers wanting to leave a young boy with a sword and shield all day long. This was at a point where schools were starting to introduce health and safety guidelines. Swords and Shields, even plastic ones didn't fit in with these plans. But you still have your face painted like a mouse I hear you cry. Not to worry my friends, my cunning plan had taken this into account. One irritating itch later I would be sent to the bathroom to wash the face paints off. I was obviously having some kind of reaction to the paints and to avoid further discomfort it was best to wash them off. It was a foolproof plan. A masterpiece to have been concocted at such a young age.
And guess what...despite where you think this is going, my plan worked. I was asked to remove all of my costume, leaving me free to enjoy World Book Day dressed just as I had planned, comfortable in my black tracksuit.
The only thing my young mind had not taken into account was that every other young boy at the time was looking for a way out of being dressed embarrassingly all day. Their plans would end up leaving my plan looking like the kind of cunning we have come to expect from Blackadder's Baldrick.
I traveled to school that day with my Mother cooing in my ear about how cute I looked and how impressed she was by how into the day I was getting. My plan was going perfectly, she suspected nothing. As I got out of the car I could barely contain the grin that spread across my face. Walking the short distance to the schools gates I had an unmistakeable bounce in my step. I felt like a criminal mastermind as my plans began to unfold. That was until I reached the gates. Looking past all of the girls dressed as their favourite fairy tale characters I saw my group of friends all playing football on the playground. Not an unusual occurrence. It was how we spent all our spare time. What had made me stop dead, open mouthed, was the fact that they were all dressed in football kits. I couldn't believe it. It was so simple. There were so many footballer autobiographies out at the time. There were so many kids books about football. Why hadn't I thought of it?!
I had no other choice. I had to walk across the playground dressed as a warrior mouse. There was no hiding my painted face. The sword and shield were almost as big as me so they too were impossible to hide. Luckily for me my costume had taken so long to prepare in the morning that the bell rang almost immediately. Nobody had long enough to laugh at my predicament. All I had to do now was quickly let my teacher see my costume and get it off as quickly as possible.
Only it turned out that there was to be a special assembly that morning. An assembly where we would show the rest of the school our costumes as we walked to the front of the hall to collect our book vouchers. So there I was, surrounded by all of my friends dressed in the kits of their favourite teams. I didn't blend in. Not even slightly. The minute long presentation felt far longer. I could feel the eyes of the rest of the school on me even without turning around to see. The sweat was pouring off of me as my costume turned out to be a lot hotter than I had ever imagined it would be. The face paints weren't holding up to the tidal wave of sweat. I can only imagine how I must have looked clutching a plastic shield and sword with my cheap face paints running all over the place. At least the face paints may have gone some way to hiding my burning cheeks; Or so I hope!
So how about you? Any embarrassing book related tales to share? Or am I the only one to have spent a morning dressed as a giant mouse in the company of princesses and an eclectic mix of former premier league legends?