I live in the UK and teach a nursery class in a primary school. When Comic Relief (a nationwide charity event organised by the BBC) was coming up a teacher at my school suggested we do a sponsored ‘Dress Up from the Neck Up’ to avoid any need for over-elaborate costumes; everyone would just have to have face paint or a funny hair do or an interesting hat, bring in a little bit of money and job done. However, I love fancy dress and I set about thinking up something really unusual that I could make or do to mark the event. It was on my drive home when my mind wondered, as it often does, and I thought of comedian Russell Howard who joked about the Queen lying in bed at night, pulling the duvet up to her chin and saying “Look Philip, I’m a postage stamp”. The seed of an idea was planted and I began to think of how I could make a postage stamp costume.
My mum has always been the one roped in to make fancy dress costumes for my brothers and I so I called on her services again and she agreed to help. I gathered the materials I thought I would need; thick card in three colors; white for the base, gold to make the background, silver for a crown and jewels to decorate it, and duly took them round to my mum’s house to get making. We decided the best thing to do would be to make a template on an old bit of card first. I held up one side of a corrugated card box to my face whilst mum stood behind me and carefully drew around my face. We cut around the line and had a hole roughly the size of my face. I put it on to check it fit, I couldn’t move my jaw; a major problem if you have to talk to three and four year olds all day. We cut a slot at the bottom so the hole looked face-and-neck shaped. This provided just enough space for me to open my mouth without compromising the general fit.
We used the stencil and cut a piece of white card to an appropriate size with the hole in the middle. We did the same for the gold card; making it a little bit smaller to allow for the white card to have a perforated effect applied later, and stuck it on top. I made half a crown which would later be affixed to the hole at a suitable height whilst mum painstakingly went round the edge of the white card coloring small black semi-circles to get that proper stamp look. We made a 1, s and t from white paper to go in the corner and fixed the crown on.
It was finally time to try it on; it fitted like a glove but there was something missing. My long, straight, dyed reddish-brown hair didn’t quite look right. Now, I’m not suggesting that Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t got lovely hair but I would definitely need a wig that might be described as ‘Old Lady Hair’ we went to the local fancy dress shop who, although they didn’t have anything in stock, were happy to order in a lovely wig and sold me a hair net in the process to keep my own hair out of the way. The wig arrived two days later and I tried the whole thing on; I was rather impressed and looking forward to wearing it at school three days later.
The big day arrived and just before the children were welcomed in I donned my costume. Reactions were mixed to say the least; the parents and my fellow teachers all thought it was fabulous. The children, on the other hand, were not so keen; one child approached another adult in the classroom and announced “I don’t like old queens!” whilst yet another told me to “Take it off!” which I did but leaving the wig on, he then instructed me further “And the hair” again I obliged but left the hair net on, he had more demands “And that thingy!” I duly did so but it was still not enough “Now put your glasses back on!” (I’d had to remove them as the stamp was just too snug to allow me to have glasses on as well) Once I’d done this only then was he happy. One child was impressed though, she drew a picture for me, which I still have stuck to my fridge, of me wearing my postage stamp!