"Black tie," said the invitation. I think other words were suggested, too, like "debonair" and "swagger".
Honestly, it's all I can do simply to keep my dinner off myself. I think debonair and swagger might be pushing it a little bit.
Nevertheless, here I am, preparing myself for a Christmas Ball tonight. Perfection takes time to achieve; in my case, basic decency is the objective. I should have started earlier.
The first thing I had to do was replace my dress shirt. After the incident that will, forever more, be referred to as MustardGate, the previous one was no longer fit for service. Leaving a shirt coated with English mustard in the laundry basket for four months doesn't do it any favours. Who knew?
So I ordered a new one, this time without a wing collar. I've come to the conclusion that wearing a wing collar with a tuxedo makes me look like a rather timid nightclub bouncer from one of the less successful Eastern European countries. I've gone for a classic collar instead.
The website I ordered it from specialises in Mess Dress for the British military. I did toy with the idea of going the whole hog and going for the full Parachute Regiment Officer's Mess Dress, but decided that would be a little too much.
Also I have no head for heights.
I'm off now to transform myself from ugly ducking to lardy bloke in a black suit. I imagine I'll spend at least 30 minutes (with instructions printed from the Internet) reminding myself how to tie a bow tie. James Bond should have my problems.
It will be to little avail. I might, for a few minutes, look halfway respectable. But you and I know that by the end of the evening I will have drunk rather too much Worthingtons and be seen pogoing on the dancefloor. Not debonair at all.
Check in tomorrow to see what foodstuffs I manage to end up wearing.