Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your togas

I wonder how many bedsheets were sacrificed in the making of this party.

But part of the fun of a costume party is preparing the costume.

While Piers was reluctant to prepare any costume at all, stating his preference to turn up in jeans and tee to his parents’ annual themed garden party, he kindly took me shopping at two costume shops and one craft shop so I could sort out his costume while he made pained faces at me.

My costume was easy. Women’s fashion boasts all kinds of funny dresses inspired by every culture and sub-culture under the sun, so all I had to do was order a dress and some accessories online.


Piers and Sheylara in Roman costumes


We couldn’t find the look I wanted for Piers in fancy dress costume shops so we had to make his outfit.

The theme of the party was Up Pompeii, inspired by a 1970s British sitcom (and movies) of the same name. The show is set in ancient Pompeii, the famous Roman city that was swallowed by a massive volcano eruption almost 2,000 years ago.

(The show is set before the catastrophe, of course.)

Wiki Pompeii if you want to read about the city that disappeared in a flash and then got accidentally rediscovered hundreds of years later. It’s very interesting.


Up Pompeii movie poster


So, anyway, I wanted Piers to go as Nausius, one of the main characters in the show. He’s the pure, virginal son of a senator. Every episode, he has a crush on a different woman and writes very bad poetry for them.

Nausius’ tunic is very short but Piers simply refused to wear a mini skirt, resolutely resisting my usually compelling power of persuasion, so I had to make it longer.


Nausius in Up Pompeii


Turned out to be a good idea because, as it was, Piers had a lot of trouble maintaining his modesty while seated, having had no prior experience at wearing a skirt.

His tunic is made by cutting up a bedsheet and sewing up the sides. His cape is a piece of red cloth safety-pinned to the shoulders. His circlet is hard gold foil wrapped around an aluminium strip and his sandals are bought from the costume shop. I didn’t have enough time to make wrist cuffs for him.


Piers on makeshift throne


In the picture above, you can see Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that ate the city. Haha.

Piers’ parents host a themed garden party every summer for all the neighbours on the street. (Last year’s theme was ‘Allo ‘Allo!) A bunch of neighbours would come help decorate the place and everyone would attend the party dressed according to theme.

I had looked forward to attending this year’s party since I found out about it in February. But I didn’t realise they made such efforts to dress up the scenery. I was flabbergasted when I arrived and saw what they had done to the garden, which usually has nothing in it but grass.


Pompeii themed garden


Sheylara in Pompeii themed garden


Pompeii themed garden


The party started in the patio at the back of the house. We could see it happening as we drove up to the house and parked on the road outside the driveway.

We were only about 10 minutes late but there were already loads of people gathered around the patio enjoying drinks and chats.


Up Pompeii party


We received a very grand reception. I loved it!


Up Pompeii party


Piers’ sisters, Lisa and Charlotte, were dressed as Vestal Virgins, with Charlotte being the renegade virgin because she was obviously pregnant.


Charlotte and Ringo
Charlotte with her puppy Ringo on a leash.


Peter and Lisa
Lisa with dad, Peter.


Everyone had such amazing costumes I felt like I was on a movie set and the actors were gathered around having a break.


Piper with friend
Piper (Piers’ mum) on the right.


Humfrey and Charlotte
Lovely couple Humfrey and Charlotte.


Sheylara and Piers
Me and Piers.


After an hour or so, the party proceded to the garden for more Roman revelling.


Up Pompeii party


Bread, cheese, grapes and wine had been prepared and people were welcome to sit anywhere they liked to eat, drink and make merry.

The garden looked amazing when it was populated by all the Roman revellers.


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


Up Pompeii party


After enough of revelling, we were all entertained by a play performed by a motley group that included Piers’ parents.

It was hilarious. The script was written by one of the neighbours and none of the actors had seen it. They were briefed on their parts just 10 minutes before the play and they had to read off the only script held by the writer, who was playing the key role of Lurcio the slave.

It was performed at the patio between the garden and the house, where Mount Vesuvius was. At the end of it, Vesuvius erupted and we saw baby fireworks shooting out of it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t got any photos of the performance because I was videotaping the whole thing. I won’t upload that video because it’s like half an hour in length.

However, here’s a short video of Piers’ sisters making an entrance as the party’s official Vestal Virgins.


(In case the video embedding is not working, please click here to watch the video.)


After the show, it was time for games.

There was hardly a dull moment at the party.

There weren’t many children, about six or seven, but there were enough volunteers for an egg race and a sack race. It was so cute!


Children's egg race


Children's sack race


Children's sack race


I thought that was the end of it but then the call came for adult volunteers.

There were going to be several adult races, including a sack race, water race and relay race.

Piers ran off to hide while volunteers were being gathered.

I ran off to look for him. Without success.

But I came back out shortly after to take photographs. I think I’m generally more useful as a photographer than a sack race contestant.


Adult race


Adult race


Adult race


Adult race


In the midst of crazy partying, a few neighbours separately took me aside to assure me that English people are not normally that barmy.

Not that they needed to do that. They didn’t know that Insanity is my middle name.

Okay, not really. But I do enjoy the occasional insane activity. The party was unquestionably fun and spontaneous and that’s always good.

I still can’t believe they do this every year. It’s such a lot of hard work organising a party like that, not to mention the cleaning up afterwards. And it’s so amazing that people are sporting enough to dress up in costumes.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s party! I hear they’re considering Fawlty Towers (also a British sitcom) as the theme.

I’ll have to hatch up a new scheme to put Piers in another costume.

Okay, a few more photos before I scram.




Sheylara and Piers


Girl and dog


Girl and dog


Girl and dog


Girls and dog


There you go.

I shall now quote Lurcio in Up Pompeii, who claims that Cleopatra said these last words to Mark Anthony:

“If you liked it, tell your friends!”


6 thoughts on “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your togas

  1. Avatar

    OMG THIS IS SO AWESOME! i hope when i get married people will dress up according to my theme! (which is 1960s retrolicious as you saw on the wedding website) haha. :) it will be really sad if people refuse to dress up. :(

  2. Avatar

    A family that has TV show-themed parties, how very fun. Did you sit down and watch a batch of episodes of Up Pompeii to study for the theme?
    I wonder what British TV programs they’ve already celebrated in past get-togethers? They’ve likely already covered Monty Python and Absolutely Fabulous.

  3. Avatar

    @Daphne Maia: I hope so too for your sake! I love themed parties. So cool. :)

    @djskyler: I did. :P They have the entire Season 1 of Up Pompeii on YouTube, so I watched those before going to the party. :P Actually, I think this might be only the third or fourth year. Not sure what other ones they’ve done.

    @ionStorm: Thanks :)

    @Felixia: Heh, thanks for loving it! :)

    @hazel: Thanks! I got it at

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