I ended up suspecting that I looked like a man in drag

RETRO But Zella didn't manage to pull off the Abba look
RETRO But Zella didn't manage to pull off the Abba look

The statistics that mask continuing real hardship

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This week I actually remembered I was supposed to be in fancy dress on a night out – unlike a couple of weeks ago where I had the humiliation of people not knowing whether or not my favourite dress was a ’70s cast-off (it most certainly was not).

It was a Mamma Mia! night at my son’s school, so I spent hours preparing what I would wear in my mind.

That day I was at the top of a ladder painting and had no time to go and buy something suitable and catsuity. So instead I decided to wear everything that I owned which was sparkly – and some of it was more than 20 years old.

It was retro when I bought it for uni nights out all those years ago, so surely that would work for an Abba-esque moment?

Hmm. When I donned my ensemble (with five minutes to go as I’d spent the previous hour straightening my hair, no mean feat when it’s curlier than a Slinky with attitude), I realised I wasn’t looking at the 20-year-old version of myself which I had imagined.

Rather I was faced with an image of a what I can only describe as a desperate barmaid (think Pat Butcher here) who was too long in the tooth, rather short in the skirt and with a haggard cleavage to boot.

With straight hair, I ended up with the sneaking suspicion that I looked like a man in drag.

I addressed the problem by having a drink to improve my confidence. Some might call this Dutch courage, but in my case it was definitely Italian (thanks to the yummy Pinot Grigio).

Unfortunately this brought out the natural exhibitionist in me, so obviously I decided to take to the stage in front of the big disco screen, pulling two friends with me to show off exactly what a dancing queen I am.

It was halfway through voulez-vousing the crowd that I began to sober up at speed and wondered if, at that elevated height, my backside was on view.

Also, had I shaved my armpits to performance quality or had my scratchy month-old razor left me with unattractive stubble like George Michael’s chin?

In hindsight, I should have definitely gone for a literal ‘fancy dress’ and left the inner Italian firmly in the bottle.