One of my more sophisticated friends is celebrating his birthday with a Doctor Who-themed party on Saturday. A better dessert to the oncoming season finale I can not imagine. Naturally, one is expected to dress up appropriately, and this has caused numerous problems. Not just for me – I know that said friend has spent most of 2008 searching for a pair of stripey trousers a little bit like Peter Davison’s – and I think it’s fair to say that you don’t generally come by Doctor Who costumes that easily.
Oh, I have to go as a Doctor, naturally. I did toy briefly with the idea of going as the Master, but I can’t be doing with all the facial hair involved (I wasn’t considering the John Simm incarnation, obviously, and I felt to go as Derek Jacobi would only be to invite unfavourable comparisons). No, it has to be a Doctor, so the first question was which Doctor.
The last thing I wanted was to be a duplicate Doctor – not only would it break the first law of time, but it would be hugely embarrassing turn see somebody across the room with a better version of the same costume – so I steered clear of the current regeneration, easy though it would have been to stick on my brown suit and a mockney accent.
Tom Baker? Not in the heat of summer. Patrick Troughton? I’m too tall. It would be immensely fun to go as Colin Baker, but that would be to set myself an impossible costuming challenge.
And so I arrived at Sylvester McCoy, part of the appeal of whom is I don’t think anyone else will want to go as him. And although I’ve failed to get hold of the requisite tank top, I don’t think it really matters as nobody ever liked it anyway. The rest – checked trousers, panama hat, umbrella with a question mark handle, are all readily available from Primark. It also looked like being a simple enough costume to throw together.
Until I got to the paisley. McCoy’s Doctor clearly had a penchant for the stuff, as it featured on his hatband, scarf, handkerchief and all the other random bits of material that seemed to flow from his pockets along with pages of script. But could I find so much as a paisley tie? Not a single one.
I recall that I once had a paisley tie. But I threw it away, as I rightly saw that it was irredeemably ugly and unfashionable. A similar attitude clearly prevails in every clothes store in the country. And not just clothes stores! Not even will charity shops stoop to a paisley tie these days – it seems that when your Granddad dies you might as well incinerate his paisley ties, because Oxfam sure as hell won’t stock them.
I’ve got a day to go and I’m hoping I can still track the requisite neckwear down, perhaps if I can locate a deeply unfashionable charity shop in the heart of Cornwall or somewhere. It’s a desperate situation though, because without the paisley OR the tank top, I frankly might be just about anyone and not a Doctor at all.