Mad cows and Vikings


It wasn’t planned, but we got to Cadiz just as the carnival was starting. As the Spanish skyscanner site quite rightly says, es un clásico entre los clásicos y entre los más famosos carnavales de España también. El Carnaval de Cádiz es una de esas fiestas que hay que vivir al menos una vez en la vida.

Actually it’s our second time, but this time I didn’t get all dressed up. The first time I was a nuclear technician, complete with white suit, helmet and mask. It wasn’t exactly comfortable but it mingled well with the Vikings, skeletons, Robin Hoods, witches and vacas locas (this was back when they were all the thing). This time I put on a token necklace of little bells from Tibet, which made me a Buddhist monk. Mrs. B. had a Pashtun hat from Pakistan, common headgear there but in western society these days feared as vaguely jihadist. So I guess you could say that together we were disguised as War and Peace.

I’m not a great one for disguise. My default strategy at fancy dress parties at uni was to slip on a silk dressing gown, wave a cigarette holder and say I was Oscar Wilde. It wasn’t great for picking up girls, who would invariably ask me to say something witty. And I couldn’t get away with ‘I can resist everything except temptation’, because it had to be original too. Given that on average, I’m witty just twice a year, the Wilde impersonation fell flat. I would have been better off as a vaca loca.

On the other hand, it could be said that getting dressed up is superfluous: with every fictional character, the writer is trying on fancy dress, and every novel is a carnival of disguises. I’m working now on a story where Olaf the Viking meets a mad cow at a party hosted by the great Oscar himself.