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I’ve found that one of the best ways is to dress as a gorilla. This approach may be felt to be unorthodox by some of my conservative readers, but I can guarantee you don’t get cold when wearing a gorilla suit.

It may not surprise you too much to be told that when I was at university I was actively involved in Rag Week. I confess now that I was indeed one of the bunch of Vikings who stormed Norwich Castle one Saturday morning in 1972. Declaring UDI in the pedestrian underpass at St Stephen’s roundabout? I was one of the border guards levying tolls. Shopping trolley jousting was one of mine too.

Back to the gorilla. A load of us were getting steadily more drunk and more ambitious. Nowadays students do things such as getting to Australia in 36 hours without spending any money. See


if you doubt me. But back then things were a bit gentler. Anyway, we came up with an idea. Organise a big crowd puller (shopping trolley jousting as it happened.) At some point a gorilla (ie me, of course since I was stupid enough to volunteer) would appear from nowhere, snatch a young women from the crowd, and run away pursued by a bunch of raggers planted in the audience. We toyed with the idea of pitchforks and burning brands, but the logistics, not to mention concealment of said artefacts, were beyond our capabilities.

We must have been pretty far gone when we came up with this one. The plan is shot through with holes. One. How can a gorilla appear from nowhere? I’m over six foot, and dressed as a gorilla might be regarded as somewhat conspicuous in the centre of Norwich. So I’d have to hide somewhere, and given the venue we’d picked for the joust the only possible place of concealment was the public lavatories in the Market Square. As you can imagine, hanging round in a gents’ toilet, dressed as a gorilla, has a lot of attendant problems.

Two. I’m not very good at running. I never have been. During a dress rehearsal, I found out I was even worse when wearing a gorilla suit. You tend to trip over the massive false feet.

Three. It’s even more difficult when you’re carrying a woman who’s screaming fit to bust and whacking you over your false head with her fists. One of the Am Dram society really got into role for that one.

Four. You can’t see a damned thing through the eyeholes in the furry hood/facemask. Even kerbs are an adventure when you’ve got tunnel vision.

Five. Even in those more relaxed times we could see a problem with abducting a young woman, even for a lark.

So we abandoned the idea, and took a line of less resistance. I would be walked round the city on the end of a piece of chain, held by a female student who’d rattle a collecting tin in her other hand. Sounds mundane? Oh no, because as usual I couldn’t leave well alone.

I chose a friend of mine as my handler, and she was on the really tiny side of petite. It was like Faye Wray and Kong. Genius casting.

It was my idea to visit the barbers. We found one of those old fashioned ones with photos in the window of styles that went out of fashion in the 1950s. I stood and scratched my head, pointed at a photo, and began jumping up and down, grunting ‘OOO OOO OOO ARRRKK.’ So my handler opened the door, and yelled, ‘Here! Can you give him a Tony Curtis?’

This surprised the staff so much that some poor punter nearly lost an ear.

It was a lot of fun just wandering about. We’d come up behind someone and I’d tap them on the shoulder. The poor sap would turn round and nearly swoon with fear and shock. It all went swimmingly till I startled a feisty old woman, who promptly set about me with her rolled up umbrella. Needless to say, my handler wasn’t a lot of help, what with falling over laughing.

Even funnier was to sidle up behind someone window shopping and simply stand there quietly till they spotted my reflection in the window. Bloody hell that was a riot to watch the expression on their face.

I’ve gone off message here. This was supposed to be about staying warm. All I can say is that after a couple of hours in a gorilla suit I nearly died of heat exhaustion, and my already limited vision was blurred with the sweat pouring into my eyes. So it does work.