CHAPTER 11. The Fancy Dress Ball

From Colombo to Aden was uneventful. The sea was calm for the whole distance. It was hot, yes it was uncomfortably hot at times, but not as hot as I had been led to expect. Time seemed to drag a little on occasions.

World Tour 1938
Tom Fitzgerald takes a nap

We were left to make our own fun and it appeared to be the general opinion of the passengers that the shipping company could have done more in this direction. During the day there were the deck games organised by a committee of passengers and they did their best. At night the entertainment was poor, on the whole. Music would be played by the orchestra for dancing, but it was too hot. We have only had two pictures since we left Sydney and the third one is set down for the night we leave Aden.

The best entertainment was the fancy dress ball held on Easter Monday, 28th April, the night before we reached Aden. That was talked about for some days beforehand. Rozie and I were quite content to watch the others, but Lo said we should join in the fun. She arranged to go as a gollywog, Rozie as a Japanese lady and Elizabeth as a flower girl. At this stage Rozie asked me what I was going to be. Without hesitation I said jokingly, “Old Nick!” Of course, this brought the reply which I expected and I had to take it. The joke was continued and Elizabeth said “If you go as the devil I will go as an angel and reform you”.

chap11_fancyDress_PeterPanIn the end it was agreed that it would be nearer the mark if the devil led the angel astray and so it was arranged. The shop was raided by most people who did not have costumes already made and Lo went down with a couple of pounds and brought back a few pence in change. Then came a couple of hectic days making the costumes, which had to be done by hand and kept out of sight of the other passengers, as we did not want them to be seen until the right moment. The three of them worked splendidly and books and other things had to be put on one side until they were finished. The gollywog was a wonderful success. Black body, green sleeves, red cuffs, large red buttons on sleeves and body and a red, green, blue and yellow striped skirt with golden tinsel running through it. Black shoes, black gloves, black hair and a lovely black face with white eyes and mouth. She was a dream!

chap11_fancyDress_babyElizabeth made a beautiful angel and when I saw her I thought I would have to change my mind and let her lead me astray. She had a lovely white georgette frock, to which we fitted wings made of silver lamé. She wore a silver tiara and carried a wand with a silver star. What made her particularly charming was the arrangement of her long black hair, which was well below her waist. It was distributed over her shoulders, both back and front, the back portion being again divided between the wings. By the way, the wings were quite a difficult job and at one time we thought we would have to give up the idea. However, with the aid of the electrician, who supplied some special wire when the wire we had bought at the shop proved unsatisfactory and after making some which were a failure, we turned out some wings which looked the part and even worked on hinges. Eight yards of bright red material, a pair of horns and a demon’s set of eyebrows, moustache and beard gave me a red rig from head to toe and in addition I carried a red pitchfork. Rozie’s Jap was principally a new kimono which Lois had purchased at Colombo, together with some paper chrysanthemums and the usual Japanese touches. When we were ready at 8.15 to go down to dinner we looked a good party.

Going into the diningroom was rather an ordeal, as that was the first appearance in public,but if Lo and I had been told to sit at some other table than our usual one I have not the least doubt none would have recognised us. Rozie and Lo entered first and then I followed with Elizabeth hanging on to a piece of thick cord by which I was pulling her along. It went down very well. Of course, after dinner was over we all had to parade with the others around the decks and dancing floor. None of us won the prize, but that does not necessarily show that we did not deserve it. The fact that the ideas had been conceived and the costumes made on the boat from a very limited supply of material must not be forgotten. It was a good night and we all enjoyed it. Dancing till midnight and then the mess had to be cleared up. The worst was the washing of Lo’s face and hair. Half a dozen changes of water and a good supply of soap with plenty of elbow grease from me brought her back to normal, except for a very sore skin and a hairset by the barber next day.

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