A couple of months ago, my mum, who has been entering competitions pretty much indiscriminately for years now, announced that her perseverance had paid off, and she’d won four tickets to Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away on Tour. Apparently she’d entered contests to win an all-inclusive holiday, a luxury sports car and a complete home makeover, so naturally she won the tickets to see Ant & Dec, and naturally Terry and I decided to accompany her and my dad.
“It’ll be great!” my mum told me. “Ashley Roberts will be there!”
I looked at her blankly. What you have to understand here is that my parents are much more up-to-date with pop culture than I am. I never seem to have heard of ANYONE: my parents, however, can always be relied on to know who has a new album out, who’s divorcing who, and who’s rumoured to be “going into the jungle” and why. My mum also has a habit of referring to celebrities by their first names, which can be confusing. “Kerry’s gone into the jungle with Peter,” she’ll tell me, and I’ll have to spend a couple of seconds trying to work out which of my parents’ many friends and acquaintances are called Kerry and Peter, and why they didn’t just get a nice package deal to the Med, like the rest of us do. But anyway!
“Ashley!” she repeated now. “From the Pussycat Dolls! Also Joey. Joey Essex. From TOWIE?”
(And yes, there it was - ANOTHER reference to TOWIE. I should maybe watch that show…)
Now, I may not know much about celebrities, but I DO know who Ant & Dec are, obviously, and although I haven’t seen their Saturday Night Take Away show, I’m aware that some of their shows tend to revolve around the “pull audience members up on stage and humiliate them” thing.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Am I going to be dragged onto the stage and humiliated?”
“Oh no,” said my mum, refusing to meet me in the eye. “Definitely not. I mean, MAYBE, yes. I think it’s about 95% audience participation. And if they do pick someone, it’ll probably be you, obviously. I think our seats are right at the front…”
So that was reassuring. I seriously HATE “audience participation” stuff. If I ever find myself in an audience that’s required to “participate”, I always kind of sink down in my seat and pray they won’t notice me; I can’t enjoy the show for fear that I’ll be humiliated in some horrible, extremely-public way. I once went to see Russell Brand and spent the entire show crouched under my seat, true story.*
(*Not actually a true story.)
Folks, there was just one question on my mind: WHAT ON EARTH WOULD I WEAR? What DO people wear to things like this, anyway?
It’s Ant & Dec!
“Probably jeans and a top,” my mum said, looking me up and down doubtfully. “I mean, I don’t think it’ll be dressy? Maybe you should just go causal for a change?”
“Do you even KNOW me?” I said sarcastically, rolling my eyes. Then I went home and I Googled, “What do people wear to be in the audience at Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Take Out?” And of course, nothing came up. Although it probably will now that I’ve written this, come to think of it. Sorry, people who are here looking for actual advice, and getting the ramblings of a clothes-obsessed madwoman instead. If you’d like to just take a seat at the back, I’ll be with you as soon as I can…
“Jeans and a top,” said Terry when I presented him with my dilemma. “Just wear jeans and a top: that’s what people wear to everything, isn’t it?”
“When have you EVER known me to wear jeans and a top?” I demanded, wondering again if my family ever actually LOOK at me.
“You’re wearing jeans and a top right now,” Terry pointed out, not unreasonably, given that yes, I WAS wearing jeans and a top right at that moment. But those were my “in the house” jeans and top. It’s not like I was going to wear them when I was going OUT for the evening, was it? I, who’ve been known to wear a prom dress to the supermarket?*
(* I have never worn a prom dress to the supermarket)
(** OK, I mean, I guess I probably HAVE technically been in a supermarket in a dress that could be described as a “prom” style. But I wouldn’t have worn that IN ORDER TO GO TO THE SUPERMARKET, obviously: I’d have been wearing it somewhere else, and then decided to pop into the supermarket for something. I have no idea what I’m talking about now…)
Ashley Roberts. Of The Pussycat Dolls.
So I asked around. “What do you think people wear to a TV show that’s been turned into a stage show?” I asked everyone. “Jeans and a top,” came the answer, EVERY damn time. I asked my niece, Maria. She is 14.
“Maria,” I said, “You’re young: you’re one of The Youth. What do you think people wear to Ant &
amp; Dec’s Take Away on Tour?”
“Jeans and a top,” said Maria, promptly. “And I know you always wear heels, but you might want to try some flats, just for a change.”
“I’M going to wear TROUSERS and a top,” said my mum, helpfully.
“I’M going to wear a dress,” said my dad, even more helpfully.
“I’M going to wear a full skirt and a bardot top!” said… absolutely no one. Damn.
“I think I’m just going to wear jeans and a top,” I told my sister-in-law, Jolene, mournfully. “I feel like that’s what everyone’s trying to tell me, you know? That I should try to be casual?”
“Oh, you’re not going to wear something casual,” replied Jolene. “No matter what you think NOW, you’ll end up wearing something totally NON-casual. And then they’ll probably pull you up onto the stage, and they’ll make you do something really embarrassing. Do you know if it’s going to be on TV? Because I’m TOTALLY watching that!”
Jolene was right, obviously. Or she was partly right. I mean, I DID wear a full skirt (and it’s actually a much nicer, dressier skirt than it looks in these photos, being much more of an emerald colour, and with a lovely sheen to it. I’ve tried photographing this skirt a couple of times now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just one of those pieces that looks better in real life…) BUT – and this is a crucial point, people – I wore it with a plain black t-shirt. And a Hell Bunny cardigan, obviously (which I removed as soon as we got into the arena: I know it’s sunny in these photos, but it was far too cold for bare arms out of doors!). No outfit that includes a plain black t-shirt (and it’s not even a bardot-style one! It’s the most basic of basic black t-shirts!) can ever be TOTALLY dressy, you know? That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway! We go to the show, and it was tons o’fun. Yes, I was moderately overdressed, but the fact is, no one really cares what anyone else is wearing most of the time (which is what my friends and family had been trying to tell me all along), so it was all good. My dad got a high-five from Ant! And he also appeared on the big screens at the front of the stage! Someone in the audience got proposed to! (She said yes!) I spilled half a glass of wine on my green skirt! But no one got pulled up on stage and humiliated (well, none of US did, anyway. Actually, quite a LOT of people got pulled up on stage and humiliated…), and that’s the main thing, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but for me, any evening that DOESN’T end in public humiliation has to be a good ‘un…