About four weeks ago my eight and six year old sons wandered upstairs to see where Mammy and Daddy were.
They got a bit of a land. There was Daddy with a lovely dress on him.
By Michael Daly
Something the far side of mild panic was starting to set in but we very quickly explained that “daddy was in a play, dressed as a woman” and he hadn’t been hiding a secret fetish for floral dresses and lipstick.
For months now I have been tempted to write about the whole experience of playing the part of Ruby Dempsey in a Sam Cree play called Widows’ Paradise’ but I thought I’d better wait until it was done and dusted, in case I’d put the mockers on it.
Having turned myself into Ruby with a lot of help from my wife Mary and loads of other very willing helpers, I’ll not claim to have any profound insight into women, but I had a lot of fun. One of the funniest days was in Slevins Department Store in Ballyshannon where I was on the hunt for size 9 ladies shoes. Yes, size 9.
Karen McHugh, one of a band of people who were part of ‘Operation get Ruby ready’, had warned the staff in Slevins that I might be calling.
And, when I did, sure enough Rene Rodgers, Martha Campbell and Ann Fox, had a gorgeous pair of slip ons with a lovely wee heel for me. They went on like gloves and here’s the scary bit, they we’re really comfortable. Rene studied me walking up and down the floor, breaking them in and after they showed me how to straighten up I was ready for the catwalk. After serious consideration Rene looked me straight in the eye and uttered words that I will treasure to my dying day: “You know what Michael, you’ve a lovely neat foot. There’s women who wouldn’t suit them shoes half as well.” We laughed to we cried.
One of the other things that I found educational was wearing tights. We all had to be in the gear for rehearsals and it was bloody cold at times, but tights are remarkably warm, in fact far warmer than trousers. Why did ye keep that a secret?
Our play ran for four nights and we had great crowds and lots of laughter, but the highlight for me personally came in the final minutes of the Thursday night production as I returned to the stage to see if I could change Harry’s mind and get him to fall in love with me.
As I peered in the door I heard these immortal words from someone in the audience who forgot their volume control and exclaimed: “Oh look, she’s back”. ‘She’ not ‘he’. Mission accomplished.
Oh, one other observation. I now have a better understanding of why it takes a woman so long to get ready to go out. Eye liner is a bitch, and don’t talk to me about fake tan on the palms of your hands...
*This column first appeared in the Monday Donegal Democrat and Donegal People’s Press, November 25th.