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Wednesday 20 June 2012

Another Day At The Races

Mid June, for fans of horse racing, means one thing, and that is Royal Ascot. This meeting is graced each year by the presence of The Queen (gawd bless ‘er!) but is otherwise, well, a race meeting. It therefore follows the behavioural pattern that can be seen at York, Chester, Cheltenham, Aintree, and anywhere else that hosts such events (as my friends at the Chester Beer Project have observed).

Chester's Roodee racecourse on a quiet day

Yes, there are plenty of well-to-do folks around, but this is mainly about ordinary people getting dressed up and having a good day out. This will involve a modicum of food, and some betting may take place, but the main event always comes down to consumption of alcoholic beverages more or less from arrival on the course to the point where the punter loses consciousness.

And this propensity to become, at the very least, Elephant’s Trunk and Mozart does not observe any kind of sex discrimination: everyone ultimately becomes what Neil Kinnock might have called Totally And Utterly And Utterly And Totally, er, ratarsed. But every time Royal Ascot comes around, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre decrees that whoever is at the front of the cab rank must feign outrage.

Last year, this meant Rebecca Evans sniffily passing comment on “A drunken brawl, a celebrity call girl and tattooed men (and women)”. This time round, the short straw has been drawn by Dominique Jackson, normally relatively sound for the Mail, to observe “Once the world's most glamorous race meeting, Royal Ascot is now reduced to a tawdry spectacle of conspicuous consumption, boorish behaviour & questionable taste”. Oh, how shocking! How utterly ghastly!!

So what will be going on this time round? “An authentic view of shallow, celebrity-obsessed, uncouth, inebriated and boorish Britain will be on full gruesome and garish show”. And there will be equally poor form on the road: “scores of noisy charabancs and stretch Hummers”.

And what is to blame for this rise in less than genteel behaviour? Money, it seems, and the opening up of the Royal Enclosure to the hoi polloi: “there has been a concomitant and marked rise in the instance of what might best be termed less than noble behaviour. Last year, the military were summoned to break up a violent brawl”. We know, Ms J., your pal Rebecca went on about that. A lot.

But not to worry, the fashion police will be on hand: “With any luck, this may mean rather fewer flabby muffin tops, rather too revealing, peek-a-boo side cleavages, borderline obscene micro-mini skirts, and thankfully, no bare chests – at any time”. And Ms Jackson is on the lookout for anyone transgressing the dress code: “I may well report back later this week”. I’m sure the Mail’s readers can’t wait.

After all, they’d be too frightened to go to the races themselves after reading that.

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