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Mark Andrews: Dressing up? You'd have to be two sausages short of a sandwich

What are you up to over the weekend? A spot of cosplay? No, me neither.

Today's fancy dress outfits are more elaborate than ever - and even more obscure
Today's fancy dress outfits are more elaborate than ever - and even more obscure

I will level with you, it was a word I was not familiar with until a few weeks ago, when I read it in a rather earnest story in The Guardian. I didn't pay much attention at the time, but then it appeared in the same newspaper the following day, and this gap in my knowledge started to trouble me.

Indeed it seems to be very much The Guardian's word of choice at the moment: a quick search on the website brings up 11,300 references to the "cosplay", and 11,200 to "cosplaying". This comfortably beats the newspaper's previous favourite word, "egregious" – which it uses with a somewhat self-righteous indignation to refer to anything vaguely naughty – which only manages 10,100 mentions. That's a whole lot of cosplay.

So what does cosplay mean? Well given that it seems to be mainly used in relation to the rather tedious race ­to be our next prime minister, I assumed it would be something to do with political intrigue, Machiavellian machinations, or something clever like that. But no, it actually appears to be something to do with fancy dress.

Quite why dressing up occupies so much attention from writers of one particular newspaper, I'm not quite sure, but it does appear to be more commonplace than we think. In Japan a whole industry appears to have sprung up around it, with conventions being held in every town. Well, each to their own, I guess. Keeps them out of trouble and all that.

But while the costumes are certainly impressive in their attention to detail, most of the subjects are a little obscure to say the least. Now you might think if you wanted to dress up as someone else, you might go for someone easy to recognise: Elvis Presley, Batman, Kate Bush, Chubby Brown, someone we've heard of. But it seems for the new generation of fancy-dress buffs, the more obscure the better. For example, one cosplay website shows a picture of a girl with green hair, the sort of dress you might expect to see advertised in the back pages of a dodgy magazine. She is standing next to a car that is totally covered in decals relating to the character she is playing. That's what you call commitment. But who is she meant to be? Hatsune Miku apparently. Yes Hatsune.

I think I were to take up cosplay, I would be more likely to follow the lead of Mark Anderson, who spends his time hanging round branches of a well-known bakery chain wearing the full range of clothing from the Greggs Primark range. Well, he is from Liverpool.

It seems Mark started buying the delightfully tasteful clothing when it launched its 21-piece "festival collection" a few weeks back, and has kept going back for more, to the point where he now owns three entire Greggs-themed outfits. Typically, he will spend his days walking from branch to branch in a Greggs t-shirt, shorts, socks, plastic shoes and bucket hat.

A recent highlight was when a member of staff offered him a sausage roll: "I jokingly said 'I would love a cheese and onion pasty' and she gave me one of them too." Ooh er, matron.

Naturally, the first thing he did when he got home that day was to call the branch to tell them more about his collection: "I told them I have a full uniform, so asked if they wanted me to come back the next day."

He does not say whether a restraining order was obtained.

Here's a word of advice Mark, which I'm sure will improve your Gregg's experience. If you get yourself a job there, they will actually pay you to wear the uniform.

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