By Lesley with Art by Castre
My neighbour Jane a talented dressmaker, produced the dresses for a local ladies dancing club and she and I had devised an amusing hoax in which Penelope was led to believe that I had agreed that he would take part in a charity show for the club - as a woman! We had made him try on the lovely, extravagantly frilly, pastel blue dress with its mass of petticoats and he was absolutely mortified at the thought of being seen in public in such an outfit. Jane and I meanwhile planned further , the idea being that we took him to the venue and then allowed him to beg us not to be exposed, to which we would agree in exchange for some yet to be decided services.

On the evening of the "rehearsal" I got Penelope, extremely reluctantly I must say, into his mass of petticoats and the lovely dress. The theme for the show was "Southern Belles" and he really did look like something out of "Gone with the wind". I also insisted on proper make-up as, I told him, He had to look presentable as a woman, the dance team would not want to be a laughing stock! He was really looking as frightened as I'd seen him for a long time. "Will they, you know, know that I'm a man?" he stuttered "We're not going to tell them, it's up to you be convincing" I laughed, "You've had enough practice after all". He was now very flustered but our conversation was interrupted by the doorbell.

It was Jane - dressed in an exactly identical costume to Penelope! That for some reason seemed to really freak him out completely and he started to back away but I was having none of that and grabbed him firmly by the wrist. "You look lovely Jane" I said "doesn't she Penelope? Right are we ready to go?" Penelope seemed frozen to the spot, but Jane took him firmly by his other wrist "Don't worry Penelope, I'll look after you, just follow what I do and we'll have a lovely time. Come on girls, or we'll be late" With that we marched him firmly out to the car, where we had great fun laughing at his difficulty in controlling his mass of petticoats as got in!

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As we got into the car Jane turned to me with a smile, "You'll never guess, one of the girls just called to say that she can't make it tonight so it's a good job we got him into this spare dress - we couldn't do the routine with an odd number. That OK with you"? Had she planned this all along? Well, I thought, it would be churlish to argue after she'd gone to all this trouble. The anticipation of an already enjoyable evening had suddenly gone to a whole new level!

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