London - On Friday night, I attended a friend’s fancy dress birthday party dressed as a Buddhist monk of indeterminate sexuality.
The theme was seventies TV shows and I had planned to go as the dishevelled, but vaguely glamorous, Hot Lips from US series MASH: instead, I was dressed as the monk Tripitaka from the dubbed Japanese TV series Monkey. Google it and you’ll be gripped with mirth, I promise.
Other women partied as Miss World 1974, Dallas’ Sue Ellen or Daisy Duke. I appeared in a ridiculous hat, an oversized white tunic and some white tights (which I fear had not been washed since they were last hired out).
I’m blaming this latest humiliation (people queued to have their picture taken with me, because I looked so daft) on the fact that I’m a working mother. It sounds improbable, I know, but I would have had more choice in the matter if I hadn’t been on the losing side in the war of parental responsibility this week.
“This is yet another of example the small sacrifices I make on a daily basis for you,” I had told the children earlier as I got ready and they documented the occasion with the family camera, howling with laughter.
“Sacrifices you’ll never appreciate or be grateful for,” I added grumpily, because, let’s face it, in 20 years time when I’m a dribbling wreck wandering the house looking for my glasses, which will be on top of my head, my children won’t put me in a top-notch nursing home (attached to sherry drip) as thanks.
They’ll abandon me to my own devices, and I’ll be found starved to death surrounded by tins of sausages and beans which I’ve tried to chew open.
Where will Mr Candy be, you ask? Well, I’m currently contemplating his future fate - because if he ever pulls a fancy dress stunt like this again, he will certainly die before me.
Let me explain it from the beginning - for this sorry tale is perhaps the best argument I have encountered for being a stay-at-home mom.
My working week was so busy I had to hand over emergency child-care responsibilities to Mr Candy, whose office workload is more flexible.
He stood in for our flu-ridden nanny (sorry child-care expert/reserve grandma: I know how the word nanny inflames the “tie them to the sink” brigade, so just insert an alternative and stay calm).
Mr Candy also had to drop off a forgotten PE kit at school late one morning and then collect our ill five-year-old from class one lunch time.
It’s rare that so many parental duties fall on one of us, but as I have only been back at work four weeks since maternity leave, there have been excessive demands on my time.
So as a result of his Olympic efforts on the fatherhood front - honestly, I don’t know how he does it - I felt obliged to agree to things I may not necessarily have agreed to otherwise.
As a result, when he rang me to tell me enthusiastically he had found the perfect costumes from a Seventies TV series he loved for the party, I had to show willing. Who was I to beg: “Can’t I just go as Margot from The Good Life and wear a dress like a normal wife?”
I wanted to explain that, as I rarely go out any more, this invite for a child-free evening was my chance to dress up.
I toyed with “Purdy-to-Patsy” (starting dressed as Joanna Lumley’s character from The Avengers and drinking until I resembled an alcohol-sodden Patsy from Ab Fab).
Wonder Woman was also a possibility, until Monkey was mentioned.
But to argue against Tripitaka on the grounds the pictures will live for ever and I’ll never be allowed to forget it by my closest friends would have been selfish, as my husband’s heart was set on it. And I owed him, didn’t I?
He was cashing in his payback - the unwritten rule that whoever drops everything at work to be there for unexpected parental chores is elevated to a higher ground.
They are able to take all sorts of liberties for a couple of days such as lie-ins, solitary baths or choosing what you both wear to a fancy dress knees up.
This agreement is never mentioned out loud, of course, but most couples abide by it if they both work.
If I didn’t work I wouldn’t have owed Mr Candy anything. So I sighed, agreed and braced myself for an evening as a laughing stock.
Fortunately I remember very little of it, and the evening is now referred to as the night that coined the phrase “as drunk as a monk”. - Daily Mail