It has long been a suspicion of mine that to most attendees, summer sporting occasions have about as much to do with sport as Jordan (aka Katie Price) does with natural beauty. The illusion is still there but no-one’s being fooled and everyone’s happy for the lie to go un-checked. It’s the elephant in the room and guess what, that elephant aint watching the sporting match, it’s drunk and flirting with a man whose address book is a veritable arsenal of double barrels.
Let’s take my most recent day of “sport” as a prime example. I’m no public school reared Daddy’s gal who has a season ticket to The Season, I just so happened to have been the fastest finger on the button when it came to a freebie floating past my greedy nose and so I found myself being invited to a gloriously old fashioned polo match, The Cartier International, none the less. Perfect for me to be able to observe my theory in all its social climbing glory.
Let’s ignore the train full of floral frocks and loafered cocks heading to the match. At a glance, they could have been on their way to a rather large wedding as there was a veritable mix of old, young, rich, chav. Let us instead cut to my taxi companions (being a sociable and cost savvy person, I saw no shame in bunking in with some randoms. If it saves a few quid on an exorbitant cab fare I’d probably hitch a lift with a flatulent bear!). Now, these two girls were, on initial inspection of the same age, race and general breed as myself but upon hearing girl A ask girl B to recant the “hilarious” tale involving Princess Beatrice and herself in the Harrods Food Hall to great guffaws of haughty laughter, I knew that Toto and I were definitely not in the Kansas post code region any longer… Girl A announced that Daddy did indeed buy her ponies (of course he did) and that she was intending to get herself and girl B into Horse and Hound Magazine’s photo section during the course of the day (well, obviously) and then I found out her name was Portia. It couldn’t have been anything else. Portia and her chum were definitely not here to watch polo, they were there to be watched and what’s more, they were definitely not alone.
Having located my hosts for the day and got to grips with a chilled glass of something-or-other, I surprised myself by how quickly I settled in to watching the real sport of the day. There was more than likely a set of world class horses and riders waging heroic mallet fuelled battle on the field just the other side of the imitation white picket fence but the mob wasn’t there to see it happen, they were tottering/strutting/wibbling (delete as footwear applicable) across the perfectly clipped green grass of the bar enclosure, drinking perfectly poured Pimms, and trying to look as perfectly conspicuous as possible.
The fact that sunglasses are protective against myriad eye diseases and crows feet is secondary here. The real reason everyone attending ends up with a panda-eye tan is because shades are an essential item of sporting paraphernalia in a game of social judging. No one wants to be seen doing what it is that everyone’s doing as it’s just not the done thing to be caught out bitching even though it is the done thing to do it (confusing, huh?); wrong shoes, ugly hat, too much boob on show, not enough boob on show and urgh, the worst – high street clothing alert! (Guilty as charged and proud I’m afraid).
All this judging leaves me wondering, do they all think they’re Best In Show or is that why the Pimms and Champagne seem to disappear in quantities that would have made a young George Best feel a trifle peaky. Are they secretly trying to drown the fear that behind each pair of Ray-Bans could lurk a pair of smug daggers aimed directly at their white Prada jeans…
Canapés came and went, lunch was toyed with and several waiters had to be sent into therapy from trying to keep up with the demand for booze and still not one pedicured Jimmy Choo shod foot had so much as been pointed in the direction of the polo pitch. It’s not that these people had spent their time idly though, there were several new levels of drunkenness that had been discovered and at least 4 new marriages had been arranged based on pedigree and shared hairdressers (you should never underestimate the power of a cleverly applied set of highlights) and let’s not forget that Portia would no doubt have got her beautifully painted claws into one very scared photographer for Horse and Hound (this encounter could also lead to one of the new marriage engagements). Then, just when you thought you might get to see some actual polo, afternoon tea goes and gets itself served!
I came to the conclusion that the best place to have a quiet moment to yourself and avoid prying judgmental eyes while at a polo match is to be sat on a horse, with a mallet in your hand.