Taken a few hours before an 80’s themed birthday party back in late February, these photographs of my fancy dress preparations have since accrued an improbable poignancy. It was a moment of silliness, which saw me attend the party as a hirsute amalgam of Cher, Bonnie Tyler, Jon Bon Jovi… and, anachronistically, Roy Wood from Wizzard.
What’s a little sad about these portraits is not so much the slow, inexorable tragedy of my hairline, but that this fancy dress party was the last large communal gathering of 2020. Shortly after these photographs were taken – about three weeks later – the UK went into its first lock-down in response to COVID-19. I can’t help but marvel now at how close to me my friend is sitting as he applies my rock-star eye make-up, his hand on my shoulder, his fingers touching my face. This same friend and I haven’t been this physically close since.
When I look at the image of the long crowded table, everyone sitting cheek-by-jowl (or wig-by-wig), it looks like a scene from another time completely, some historical tableau.
My wookie-sized wig is upstairs in the attic, hibernating – like the rest of us. Perhaps, when the time comes, the bells ringing out, strangers in the streets dancing arm-in-arm, I’ll stick it on my head again, backcomb the fuck out of it, and dance along in the crowded streets too.