So there we all were, dressed as pirates. S, wearing a tabard, a pirate hat and an impressive array of painted on scars, was clutching a plastic musket. M dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and waving a plastic cutlass at his brother was making Johnny Depp's interpretation of the character look positively restrained. Polly was wearing a (frankly sexy) pirate girl outfit complete with high heel boots and stockings. I was adorned with a skull and crossbones bandanna, stripy T-shirt, gold hooped earring and an eye patch. Wired to the wheelchair was a plastic parrot and mounted on the headrest was the Jolly Roger. Shiver me timbers, my hearties.
We trooped out to the van, ignoring the group of teenagers gathered on the corner, and strapped ourselves in, adjusting the parrot accordingly. Waving casually to our neighbour who, making no attempt to hide her amusement, was watching from her kitchen window, we headed off.
The fancy dress party, to celebrate a friend's birthday, had been arranged months ago. The theme was musicals and since S was adamant he would only go as a pirate we, as a family, were going as The Pirates of Penzance. It was only a short drive to the hall where the party was due to be held and within a few minutes we were pulling in to the car park. Which was empty. Devoid of any kind of vehicle. Utterly deserted. There were no lights on in the hall, nor were there any balloons, or more importantly, colourful characters from the musicals.
We knew there had been a recent bereavement in the family so perhaps the party had been cancelled and since we had not been around for the last week or so we hadn't heard. Anyway, we had no choice but to head home. The same group of teenagers watched us arrive back barely ten minutes after they'd watched us go. They stood in silence, chewing gum like cud, as my children grumbled loudly about being all dressed up with no place to go. Our neighbour, still at her kitchen window, smiled and waved at us. Polly waved back, trying to give the impression that we had just popped out for milk and that she often dressed as a saucy pirate princess to go shopping.