Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Halloween Advice

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Here’s me dressed as a cat for Halloween. I put this picture up on Twitter and promised a tutorial in how to do such intricate and skilful makeup.

  If you type “how to do cat makeup” into Google, you’ll find pages of advice, videos, the lot. This is an edited version, for people who socialize like I do.

1. (With thanks to Infobarrel): acquire face paints in white, yellow, orange and black. Smear the yellow all over your face from hairline to nose.

2. Cover the bottom half of your face in the white. Also draw large white triangles above your eyes and around your mouth. Add big orange or black blotches on your forehead.

3. Draw feathery loops, in black face paint, “to create the appearance of tufts of fur.”

4. Really concentrate on the chin, make it good and tufty. Glue on actual fake hair, if you’ve got some handy. Done!

5. Take a look at your fucking self.

6. Wash your face. Possibly with bleach.

7. Ask yourself: are you really a fancy dress kind of person? You’re not, are you? You admire people who are. They’re the people who dance unself-consciously in public, make friends on holiday, and get second helpings at the all-you-can-eat buffet without worrying it looks greedy. You’d like to be that kind of person. It’s selfish to go to a fancy dress party in normal clothes. You’d like to repay your host’s generosity by looking magnificent and adding to the fun. That’s what sociable, dancey, cool people do. But when you hear the words “fancy dress”, you get an immediate mental picture of yourself, alone in the corner, nervously clutching a drink, pretending to send a text on your mobile phone, dressed as Henry the Eighth.

8. Think about buying some books on how to be a good conversationalist.

9. Get out an eyeliner. Using an old fag packet as a ruler, draw on a couple of whiskers and get in a taxi.

10. Go, and have a great time! Don’t forget to drink. Be enthralled by what a brilliant party it is! Meet new people! Skulk with people you already know! Bump into an old friend and have a deep, serious, emotional conversation about the meaning of life, the mystery of love, regrets, hopes, dreams…

11. Remember that you’re wearing cat ears.

12. Then think, oh what the hell. He’s nodding gravely while dressed as Hugh Hefner. There are skeletons and storm troopers walking past. A werewolf is engaged in earnest debate with the Boston Strangler.

13. Get over yourself and resolve to do a better job next year.

14. Maybe.

  There, I hope you found those makeup instructions useful. Here’s a brightly-lit version, less flattering but easier to copy:

Happy Halloween.

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FMD at 4:45 am on November 3rd, 2010

Sorry, Victoria, this induced me to laugh a lot. Most definitely laughing with you, not at you, though.

Again, I have to apologise because everything I write seems to be coming out crude and inappropriate. e.g. I bet I could get you to enjoy dressing up. Blah, blah, blah. Yadda, yadda, yadda… (It must be the time of day and the enchanting imagery that’s brought on this baser state of being.)

Oh yeah, there’s no need to worry about being cool or uncool. Who cares? Besides, “cool” is an undefinable and inherent quality. And unfortunately, despite all your protestations, it’s inherent in you. Deal with it, Sister!

PS. I’m an expert in these matters — end of. ;)

Dave P at 7:42 am on November 3rd, 2010

You look absolutely wonderful. The collar is a particularly nice touch and a bell would have been going too far.
You obviously favour the Stanislavski school of halloween costume and I’m sure that your in depth feline characterization more than compensated for the minimalist approach to make up.
Though I am finding it hard to believe that you actually owned a leopard print dress!

Marktydog at 8:03 am on November 3rd, 2010

Miaow , Purrrrrr
Woof Woof!

dg at 8:06 am on November 3rd, 2010

How do you spell rhrrrrrrrr?

You could just do what I did this year: stay in. I did something similar last year. There are, after all, other nights for socialising which don’t have the associated pressure that people like us (I’m totally with you on this one) attribute to them. There are other nights which don’t have the same potential to feel like a complete social failure. Not to the same extent, anyway.

You know, I suspect that the only difference between them and us, in this case, is that they worry less.

One question: did you actually try that makeup?

MDW at 8:52 am on November 3rd, 2010

I have to say that you look incredibly cute as a cat, maybe it’s a look you should keep throughout the year.

Ginger Pogue at 9:40 am on November 3rd, 2010

Any chance of seeing you try that look on Only Connect?

Tom J at 9:50 am on November 3rd, 2010

Whew. I wish you were slinking across my living room floor.

Mind you, if you were dressed as Henry viii I’d have a decent stab as well. But I might ask for the cat costume first.

Victoria Coren at 9:52 am on November 3rd, 2010

Gravedeen - I did try it!

Well, OK, I didn’t try the great sweep of orange and the giant white triangles. I knew I’d never leave the house like that. I’ve met myself.

But I did try drawing on a proper cat nose, and a few of the extra things you’re meant to do, but I felt like an idiot so I took it all off and started again.

palladian at 10:42 am on November 3rd, 2010

You might also try that look at the poker table - but resolutely refuse to acknowledge to anyone that there is anything unusual about your appearance. The disconnect should put them right on tilt.

johnie at 10:46 am on November 3rd, 2010

Ohh lets have a themed party!! WHY? God why is everything I’m invited to now fancy dress?
  And don’t point out it’s Halloween, I went to an Abba BBQ during the summer, not to mention the superhero one the other week.  I contemplated crying before I left to attend, maybe I did. Can’t we just go back to fun themed parties? New friends might be the answer.

King John II at 11:06 am on November 3rd, 2010

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think VC looks good as a hybrid womancat. A bit of computer wizardry, and away you go!

The Tim at 11:14 am on November 3rd, 2010

Wow! The treatment worked soooooooo well on you – much better than when I tried it – especially when I washed my face with bleach. Still can’t get over how sexy you look. Just need to open the window and lower my chair a couple of notches, hold on.

I’ll just have to try some of the ice breakers and cheat sheets recommended in the book……So, tell me about a time you had too much to eat….

Do you have a connection with Debra Fine? – Is there any reason you’re plugging her book?

jim carr at 11:25 am on November 3rd, 2010

I went to a fancy dress party as a “south-sea islander” (I’m not sure what that is either!)
I made a grass skirt,but i didnt have any make-up to turn my milk white body tan-coloured, so i used cocoa powder, it looked ok, if you’d had a couple of drinks.
This was in the tropics, in the monsoon season (you know what’s coming) - after the rain storm i looked like a badly made mars bar emerging from a microwave!
  Compared to this, your minimalist cat was a raving success.

Victoria Coren at 12:23 pm on November 3rd, 2010

No connection with Debra Fine! I just googled randomly for a link that I thought would be funny.

RomanticRecluse at 12:24 pm on November 3rd, 2010

(Leaves saucer of milk outside door, drapes unravelling ball of wool over threshold, gets tin of salmon out of cupboard, puts pieces of chicken in oven, clears all window sills and puts bed with nice fluffy duvet on it next to radiator)

Here, kitty kitty!

Jo at 12:25 pm on November 3rd, 2010

Well the men can drool and laugh, but I think it IS useful makeup advice, and I shall be going to a party as a simple cat (whiskers & ears only) at the first opportunity!

- plus those little eyeliner lines upwards at the side of your eyes, you don’t mention those!

The Tim at 12:49 pm on November 3rd, 2010

More importantly, Jim Carr, did you still get leid, Hawaiian style?

Ron Heywood at 1:07 pm on November 3rd, 2010

What fun!

I love the contrast between the two pictures - the first picture you look like you’re planning mischief.

The second picture looks like you’re in a police lineup!

“Would you like ME to be the cat?” - George Galloway

MarkP at 3:04 pm on November 3rd, 2010

Wow, you look fabulous! But aren’t you worried that some tabloid might use the picture unscrupulously in lurid tale like ‘Vicky Coren drunkenly staggers out of a casino at 4am dressed as a cat’ ?
And in a game similar to the Platell Game, I would have put money on you spelling it Hallowe’en not the more modern Halloween.

Chris at 4:10 pm on November 3rd, 2010

Wow!! You look very cute in that first photo.
If you’d have gone trick or treating dressed like that I would gladly have given you a saucer of milk.
I’ll never ignore the doorbell on Halloween night again. (I realise I’m a deluded optimist- but hey we’ve all got to fantasize!)


David J B at 5:38 pm on November 3rd, 2010

My Hallowe’en consisted of the male equivalent: putting up 30 metres of rope lights around our tree, ordering 20kg of dry ice for a cauldron, and pinching all the Curly Wurlys before the little blighters arrived.

Alan at 8:52 pm on November 3rd, 2010

Hi Vicky,  I think you look really hot and sexy dressed as cat,  I would have got dressed as a Tom and come looking for you,  purely to keep you company of course.

In fact I think you look really Hot and Sexy in anything you wear but then I am totally smitten with you.

I don’t think we see enough of you on TV,  your charm,  wit and gorgeous smile lights up any program.
PS.  Loved you on HIGNFY (both times)  and Only Connect.  xx : ) 

David Young at 9:18 pm on November 3rd, 2010

Well done Victoria, you’ve done the Number 2 on this list. Are you going to have a crack at the Number 1?

[Annoying advert when loaded. Click ‘continue’ or wait a few seconds],7171/

Amanda at 10:06 pm on November 3rd, 2010

I have had to raise my game in the fancy dress stakes with having 2 young children of primary school age.

In this past year, I have had to provide for my daughters an Aztec headress, create a Florence Nightingale outfit, put together a pirate costume and characters from literature for world book day. It’s tough.

In the desperation of trying to create a Crimea soldier, one mother had removed the pads from her Wonder-bra and sewn them onto the shoulders of her son’s red rugby jersey as make-do epithets. 

You’ve managed to put together a sexy little outfit. And the underwear seems to be in the right place.

palladian at 11:13 pm on November 3rd, 2010

Have to agree with MarkP. The apostrophe is mandatory. Every pussy cat, know dat.

Wildrid at 12:49 am on November 4th, 2010

Step 1) Be really hot.
Step 2) Wear anything, you’re really hot.

FMD at 1:37 am on November 4th, 2010

Victoria, I’m surprised no one’s picked up on your shocking use of the word “socialize”! (Probably the pictures’ fault…) Perhaps it was a deliberate literary device used to denote: “said in an, ironic, American accent”?

Hot Tip: when I was a young kid, a nice Swedish girl lived next door and did a Swedish version of Halloween, around Easter time. I remember it having more of a pagan vibe. (Pointed hats!)

I thought this may be useful info as I know you can’t wait for a whole year to pass to dress up again, and you’re bound to know some Swedish LAGs. (Sorted!)

My costume suggestion would be to go as Alice; you could pull a primo Alice off in your sleep. I always considered her experience to be somewhat horrific; therefore, making Alice a very valid Halloween guise. (Solid excuse!)

RomanticRecluse at 1:44 am on November 4th, 2010

Vicky, if you want “a deep, serious, emotional conversation about the meaning of life, the mystery of love, regrets, hopes, dreams…” you don’t have to wear fancy dress and make up and go to a party.  You don’t even have to leave the house.  You can do it using the modern wonder that is the Internet, a network that allows you to speak to the whole world or to a single person.  Doing it that way has its disadvantages (the interaction is limited to video, sound or even just text) but it also has its advantages (you can play online poker at the same time and no-one has to find out that you actually dress up like a cat every day).

You don’t have to have such conversations but if you do maybe one day during such a conversation you’ll find the meaning of life, solve the mystery of love…

Rebecca Ann at 2:01 am on November 4th, 2010

This is the story of my life. Seriously. I went as Cleopatra for a halloween party last year, felt ridiculous & ended up just wearing an egyptian head-dress & jeans whilst getting pissed in the kitchen. It was brilliant.

However, love your cat outfit!

Robert Crosby at 3:22 am on November 4th, 2010

On the subject of advice my friend Josh sometimes plays a spot of poker. Not professionally like you do but with his uni flatmates. However, he always seems to lose to the one known as Marcus. Feeling sorry for the lad and being such a top hole pal I decided to ask you for some general poker playing advice. Hopefully Josh will understand any poker based slang you might employ as I have no knowledge of poker. The secondary reason for this request is that it promises to be what the wise men of the north call ‘A Laugh’. That logic got me onto Hulls team for university challenge roughly two years back. Unfortunately the team itself never made it on air. So it’s not flawless.

Spiffo costume by the way, you look quite the peach.

Though by now it’s November, happy Halloween! 

Ta ra lass.

Victoria Coren at 11:05 am on November 4th, 2010

FMD - I nearly always use z’s instead of s’s in that situation (to -ise/ize something). I know it’s a bit American, but I just like z’s. It’s the Scrabble player in me.

Robert - I can’t really fit poker advice into a blog post, not unless there’s a specific question! But if you click ‘poker’ in the left-hand menu, then ‘poker advice’, you’ll find five years’ worth; hopefully that will be useful for your friend, and good luck to him.

Mike at 11:35 am on November 4th, 2010

Thank you for starting this refreshingly different thread Vicky.  The second picture is actually enhanced by having ‘red-eye’ left untreated, bearing in mind the Halloween nature of the thread,  whereas the first picture makes me suggests to me that I might allow you to be evil with me if you want to!

Robert Crosby at 3:51 pm on November 4th, 2010

On the subject of Americanisms I must be one of the only Englishmen who actually likes the way the Americans speak. Especially the way they speak in ‘Tru Blood’ which is on tonight incidentally; despite the fact that my friend’s Texan wife says that’s not really how they speak in the south, but no matter. I shall have a look through the poker column later since I need to crack on with my essay. I can’t believe I just slept through a 2:15 lecture, damn nocturnalism, probably why I like ‘Tru Blood’ since the vampires are up at the same hours. I reckon you were probably a lot more organised at uni going to one of the posh ones (I forget which it was) Anyway thanks and tell your brother I liked his and Sue Perkins’ food show. See thee later.

FMD at 4:36 pm on November 4th, 2010

Hi Victoria, how interesting; I did not think you’d be down with the “ize”...

My natural bent is to “ize” everything too. It’s taken a couple years of hard diligence to change my ways and make the “ize” feel wrong…

Now to discover that my linguistic superior not only rocks the “ize”, but is cool with it…

Oh, Cruel World!

Alan at 10:21 pm on November 4th, 2010

The bloke in the Heffner outfit talking about love with a woman dressed as a cat - not George Galloway by any chance?

KlooRhee at 11:05 pm on November 4th, 2010

How to start a conversation?

What do you think about flying squirrels?

Lego at 12:19 am on November 5th, 2010

Potty mouth! It’s not big and it’s not clever, you know. I’ll say nothing more. *disapproving look*

Thundercats FTW

dg at 8:10 am on November 5th, 2010

On the subject of fancy dress, I was amused by your little gaffe on twitter the other day, VC. I think you made a good call, though. Better:
“Ah yes, you were Robin Hood, weren’t you? Nice TMY”
“Actually I was a hunchback, but thanks”
...rather than risk:
“Ah yes, you were The Hunchback of Notre Dame, weren’t you?”
“Well, this year I thought I’d try something different and go for Robin Hood, but everyone always focuses on the hump, don’t they?”

John at 9:38 am on November 5th, 2010

Nice pics.  I’ve always admired whiskers on women!  I don’t think that’s technically a fetish. 

Phil at 2:10 pm on November 5th, 2010

Wow! Gorgeous pic. Is this the new costume for OC, Vicky? Put people off and make the quiz even more difficult?

Lego at 1:51 pm on November 6th, 2010

I jest, of course. I f and blind like a fookin’ good’n. Just highlighting the fact that you’ve remembered how to swear, these days.

But what we really need to know is, does a picture exist of you in the tiger makeup, before you washed it off? And who do we need to bribe to see it? *giggle*

David Young at 2:03 pm on November 6th, 2010


I am tremendously disappointed that you haven’t been ensnared in a sex-texting scandal by now. What sort of celebrity are you?

If the tabloids don’t catch out a female sexter soon, Stephen Fry will draw all the wrong conclusions. Help protect this vital national treasure!

Rog at 6:48 pm on November 6th, 2010

Wow, you super feline! Meow… Of course, i must ask the question, as there are two pictures of you as a cat, is this a spot the difference quiz? In the first, you smiling as though you know that we know something that you dont, and in the second you lips are pouting!


RobCarter at 7:23 pm on November 6th, 2010


Victoria Coren at 8:45 pm on November 6th, 2010

Ok DY, ok, I’ll text you something later - good luck selling it…

RomanticRecluse at 4:54 pm on November 7th, 2010

Here, puss!  I’ve got something new for you.

(Puts down bowl of pineapple rings)

I know they’re not from the pet food aisle but you might like them.

Would you like some cream?

P.S. Great column today.

Commentographer at 7:54 pm on November 7th, 2010

It must be the better people who are capable/lonely enough not to have to bother with this wild, life-affirming manner of social affair. 

Amac at 8:11 pm on November 7th, 2010

Loving the outfit, watching sunday warm up, loving the x factor comments.

King John II at 11:18 pm on November 7th, 2010

Bonfire Night? whatever happened to Guy Fawkes Night? Fireworks Night is probably more accurate than Bonfire Night. No Trick or Treaters this year. Shame, I had some tricks of my own, up my sleeve, this year. As for today’s Observer column, a very simple & straightforward issue presented as complex, which it is not. Could not disagree more, sexuality = procreation.

Robert Crosby at 1:01 am on November 8th, 2010

I almost forgot to mention the fact that there is a computer game set in Vegas. More specifically ‘Fall Out New Vegas’. Tis an RPG so not the type of thing I normally play but it is in Vegas, where the Poker comes from (or at least where it’s mostly played, god knows who invented it) So my brain keeps nagging me to inform you of the tenuous link between it and you. How to advertise it…did I mention that ‘Fallout New Vegas’ is in VEGAS!

It’s also in a post apocalyptic landscape if you like that sort of thing. As is the film ‘Threads’ which is on U tube and about a Nuclear war, which is technically not ‘post’ apocalyptic but no matter. A good film though, at least I thought so. 

Anyway, tis fruit juice quaffing time.

Have fun and frolics. 

Beanie at 2:41 am on November 8th, 2010

I’ve just been catching up with your blogs and columns, after my housemate let me borrow Once more, with feeling. (He may be a little in love with you.)

I have to say, loved the latest column in the observer - I think you’ve managed to sum up my thoughts on the matter perfectly, and with a lot more coherance than I ever managed.
Also, the cat costume - much better to keep it simple! I’m guilty of loving themed parties, and an excuse to dress up - and its always the simple costumes that go down well.

If I thought I’d get away with it, I’d offer to buy you a drink (or two) especially as you’ve said you get drunk easily - you’d be a cheap date! Well, date may be the wrong word. You’re gorgeous, but also a lady.. I wonder if I can find a man with your brain?
I’ll live in hope.


MODERATOR at 11:54 pm on November 8th, 2010

Note to the most recent two posters [8/11] who might be surprised their posts are not here: those comments are not going up because they aren’t quite in the spirit of light-hearted debate we try to keep going here [see previous disclaimers on whimsical moderating decisions]; sorry and thank you for posting. There are just some subjects which can’t be dealt with appropriately in this space.

King John II at 12:15 am on November 9th, 2010

No two ways about it, the first photo above is the best one of VC for a while. Cats should always be seen in the dark. How’s about Femmecat? or maybe even Corencat ( a new species )
You just cannot escape the expression, almost as if VC has spotted a mouse sized CiF critic, or Jolley gang member, and is about to have her wicked way with one and the same. OUCH!

RomanticRecluse at 1:49 am on November 9th, 2010

Thanks for that, Moderator.  I expected it and understand.  I like light-hearted debate but I’m whimsical in the capricious sense so my heart can suddenly go from light to heavy.

But apparently cats can be good for the heart.

But doing a google image search for “cat nurse” can throw up some images that might not be good for the heart.

Especially from page 3 onwards.

The Tim at 1:03 pm on November 9th, 2010

I’ve just looked inside the new Radio Times and there’s a picture of you on page 3 (no, just the head in case anyone was wondering). It tells you to turn to page 16 which I duly did only to find an article on Miranda b*****y (my editing) Hart - most disappointing! Are you able to take time away from listening to Mitch Benn’s song ‘I’m proud of the BBC,’ and explain this glaring omission?

Victoria Coren at 1:53 pm on November 9th, 2010

Hi Tim. The piece about Miranda Hart is written by me!

John Robertson at 4:34 pm on November 9th, 2010

I didn’t ‘get’ Miranda Hart’s sitcom so I thought I’d read the interview to see if it gave me a way into Series 2. Part way through, I turned back to see who the interviewer was and was disappointed to find it was you. Disappointed? Yes, because I thought I’d found someone else who writes as well as you. On the basis of your piece, I will be giving Ms Hart a chance.

Keith at 11:28 pm on November 9th, 2010

On the perenially interesting - to me at least - question of the most talented, funny, intelligent, articulate and attractive woman in the UK, I tend to vacillate between you and Caitlin Moran. But these photos elevate you to Top Cat status. Congratulations on all your success; long may it continue, and happy skulking.

The Tim at 11:35 pm on November 9th, 2010

Oops, bit of a faux pas there - should have looked the small print – I just wasn’t a great fan of Miranda Hart. I didn’t know you wrote for RT..

Great article – very amusing and descriptive – really like the ‘as vulnerable as a tranny in sequins’ line. She’s now gone up in my estimations. I’ve never understood why women fear they shouldn’t compete or be hampered by a fear of being funny. It’s never stopped you being both funny and a heart-throb – please don’t throw Doritos at me.

Matt at 11:39 am on November 10th, 2010

Hi Vicky

There’s something up with the link to your new poker column - it takes you to a Guardian page with picture of the WSOP champ but there is no column. Apologies if I’m like the 10,000th person to mention this.

Love your writing - keep up the good work.

Victoria Coren at 12:37 pm on November 10th, 2010

Hi Matt. Do you mean the link from this site, via the columns / Guardian page? I just tried it and it worked fine - the link went to a page with a photograph of the new champion at the top and my column underneath it…

John at 1:55 pm on November 10th, 2010

Where do all the moderated blasphemies end up?  Is there a Black Museum for insolent literature?

Karl at 3:34 pm on November 10th, 2010

Just to say I accessed the poker column through the Guardian’s site with no problems.
I’ve had experiences like that before on there, though (usually on CiF). Refreshing or closing the browser and re-opening usually does the trick for me.

Pics: Almost fell off my chair and choked on my coffee (in one of those ‘Is coffee meant to come out of there?’ moments).
I had much the same reaction to parts of the sex/sexuality article, too - very good though it was (as always, let’s be honest).

palladian at 10:12 am on November 11th, 2010

Nope. I get the same as Matt. Links to the page, gives headline and photo of the new - and appallingly young! - champion, but no text beneath.

dg at 4:40 pm on November 11th, 2010

Can confirm the poker link doesn’t behave itself in internet explorer, but does in firefox (and probably Oprah, or whatever the bleeding heck it’s called), hence the confusion. First the printable crossword fiasco, and now this? I’m beginning to think The Grauniad has it in for IE…

The Tim at 11:10 pm on November 11th, 2010

According to Wikipedia there’ll be (well, actually it used the past tense – I must be in the wrong time zone) a special Only Connect on 15th November for Children in Need with Adam Hart-Davis and Andrew Motion amongst others presumably to be transmitted on Friday 19th. There is, however, no mention of this in the Radio Times. Are you able to elaborate, oh learned one?

TiffinCake at 12:10 pm on November 14th, 2010

re: ‘ize’

I think the american version is probably better here; the suffix ‘ize’ is greek, spelt with a ζ (zeta).

But, maybe I am being too pretentious referring to Greek. Perhaps we should spell socialise with an ‘eye of Horus’...

Matt at 3:26 pm on November 15th, 2010

The problem was (and still is when viewing with my browser) as described by palladian: the Guardian page displayed by the link shows the photo of the WSOP champ but there is no column beneath the picture.

I see that Vicky’s Observer column also discusses Mr (Master?!) Duhamel’s win, so maybe I’m not missing out too much. As ever, there is some lively debate in the comments section!

hencrispsars at 11:45 am on November 19th, 2010

VC in a catsuit! Now I know what I want for Christmas!
And Easter
And my birthday
And, and, and

Martin McGill at 3:14 pm on January 17th, 2011

Your halloween outfit is the same as the halloween outfit that Elliots mother wore in ET, which has re-awakened a long forgotten and inevitably unrequited infatuation. Thanks.

Ken Singtone at 11:57 am on February 4th, 2011

How appropriate that your niece should be called Kitty Coren!  What an inspiration you are.

Victoria Coren

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