Being British, the naked truth

Polo, rain and a streaker: why bare bottoms never lose their appeal.

Streaker best oneThe streaker at the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup Final. Brilliant.

There are a few times recently when I have found myself thinking, ‘God isn’t it brilliant to be British?’

Manchester and Borough Market – no explanations needed as to the events, but I felt genuinely proud of the nation’s reaction – our refusal to be cowed or scared, our resilience. I loved the way that we stood together, and I was heartened to hear that people offered food, accommodation and support to absolute strangers in the immediate aftermath. It was Dunkirk spirit at its best. You go Britain.

But I also love the hilarious idiosyncrasies and bizarre national traits that give us an international reputation for being slightly eccentric, off the wall, bonkers.

And I especially love Britain’s collective sense of humour – our dry wit, love of caustic satire and also toilet humour. (I hate the word toilet. It is absolutely abhorrent. I would honestly rather someone said they were going to the sh*tter than the toilet. Seriously.
I am very sorry for saying it, three times. But that is the given name of the genre of humour to which I refer, so it was unavoidable really. Sorry. Bleugh.)

Moving on …last week I was lucky enough to attend the Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup Final at Cowdray Park. It was amazing, but not for the reasons I expected.

KellyMy friend (on the left) – not haggard.

I was there with a very old friend. (To clarify, she is not withered or haggard, I have just known her for a long time). But upon arrival the heavens opened. It rained cats, dogs, mice, rhinos, elephants – you get the picture, it rained.

Luckily, we are British, and as such the afore-mentioned Dunkirk spirit is part of our genetic make-up. We will not be put off by the weather, we will carry on as planned, and we will stoically smile through the entire thing, even if we’re in the process of developing pneumonia.

On this occasion it was far from that dramatic luckily – we stayed in the VW Polo while it bucketed down outside and had a car picnic that consisted of sandwiches and slightly tepid prosecco (we know how to live). We concluded that our feet were dampened but our spirits were not – I swapped dainty pumps for trusty Chameaus and we were off.

For the uninitiated, polo is just as civilised as you might expect – there were ice buckets, elaborate picnics and tweed capes at every turn. There was even a spitfire display before the game. Oh and seriously good dogs …the calibre of dog on display was exceptionally high – from small sausages and tyrannical terriers to elegant lurchers and an excellent stamp of Labrador.

Excellent dogAn excellent dog at the polo in what I believe to be a cashmere jumper – well, why not?

The standard of polo itself was breathtaking. I do not purport to know much about the sport but the horsemanship, speed and agility of both teams and their ponies was truly amazing.

One team (El Remanso) was made up of Brits, including the England Captain, James Beim, and the other (King Power Foxes) was Argentine-dominated. The Argies took the title in the end but it was brilliantly close-fought.

Particular mention should go to young gun Jimbo Fewster – the one goal English player was on the winning team, scored three goals and picked up the most valuable player (MVP) award. He was amazing. I bet he’s still smiling now.

Polo 2The Jaeger Le-Coultre Gold Cup Final in action.

But my personal MVP award goes to the skinny-legged streaker (SLS – pictured above). SLS made his appearance in-between chukkas from the Midhurst end, running down the pitch stark bollock naked, hotly pursued by security. He even managed to give a cheeky lean-over-and-pat-of-bottom-cheeks to the 12,500 people in the stands en route. What a bloody legend.

I dealt with it in my usual calm and measured manner. I spotted him emerging from the crowds early on and cut across the muted polite chatter of the members enclosure by bellowing: “THERE’S A STREEEEEEEAKKKKKKERRRRR. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY!”

The commentator got in the spirit too and declared over the tannoy: “I’d say by the looks of it, it’s a little chilly out there.” Lol. As he also rightly said, SLS hadn’t really thought it through and got to the other end only to look a little sheepish and slope off bare-bottomed. Hilarious.

We hope it was a dare and he got bought LOTS of drinks for doing it. Naked bottoms are funny. Streakers are funny. That was absolutely brilliant. Good work Britain.

His crown jewels were the crowning glory of a simply sparkling day.

My fête is sealed (not a spelling mistake)

The brilliant but slightly bonkers village fête, and how a local celebrity got it very wrong.

Balcombe Village Fete 2017

I was told by a celebrity-who-shall-remain-nameless-but-lives-nearby that they visited our village fête two years ago and that it was “sad and shabby …not fulfilling its potential”. (She actually said more unkind things than that, but I don’t feel there is anything to be gained in repeating them.)

Having lent a peripheral hand at this same “disastrous” event for two years now,  I can safely concur that the nameless celebrity may well be famous, stylish, lauded even, but she is also so very far from correct on this matter.

Sure, it isn’t all Cath Kidston gingham and Liberty of London prints (which are both things I love, by the way) – it isn’t smart, it isn’t chi-chi, and – truthfully – in parts it is a bit rough around the edges. But that is what makes it so wonderfully brilliant, so rural, so rustic, so bonkers, so British.

The fête as a notion is hilarious  – the tombola, the hounds, the ponies, the tug-of-war, the terrier racing, the dog show, the fiercely-fought floral competitions and cake contests. And if you’re at our fête, there’s a brilliant bar and a live band, run by another charitable group, the Christmas Tree Society, which raises funds for local people through a medium most enjoy – alcohol!

It is more Vicar of Dibley than All Saints, far more Farmer Wants a Wife than Footballers’ Wives – and I personally much prefer it that way – and so, I would proffer, does the village.

But more importantly, it is also the result of a lot of hard work from a lot of very well-meaning and kind people, who care very much about raising money for the village, and for the people who live in it. And what, I want to know, is so very wrong with that?

They may be stuck in their ways, and those ways might in some cases be fairly eccentric, but that is the most unkind thing I can bring myself to say, because as anyone who is involved in a local event such as this knows, it is an awful lot of hard work.

It takes a lot of planning, a lot of equipment, a lot of funds, a lot of goodwill, and a lot of people’s time, which they willingly give for free. To them I say thank you, on behalf of the whole village, because these events simply couldn’t run without these people, and for that I happen to think they are brilliant.

Balcombe Fete 2016

As an aside…
What is it that makes people be mean? BTW this is not me crying into my pillow and cursing the world in the manner of a surly teen who has just realised that life isn’t always that fair …but it is me having encountered a few mean people in a short space of time, and you really have got to wonder what motivates them.

Obviously it goes without saying that I am also mean sometimes, although in my case it’s more thoughtless actually. I can be very thoughtless, and plough into a conversation/situation without thinking and then regret what I have said or done.
That happens.

But we all are a little mean sometimes …all except my very good friend Melanie, in fact. I have known her nearly all my life and I have never once known her to be mean …not once. She’s like an angel walking among us. Always smiling, always kind. I often think I should take a leaf out of her book and be nicer to everyone, but alas I am not an angel and I get cross and grumpy and irrational, just like everyone else that isn’t Melanie. At least I have her in close proximity to me so that I have something to aspire to. I won’t ever be like her, but I am happy to continue to try …up to a point.

(That’s her right there, pictured below. She doesn’t go around dressed as an angel btw, that was her wedding day …it’s a happy coincidence that her outfit matches my blog. Although if I asked her to dress as an angel for my blog she probably would …because that’s just how nice she is.)

Melanie 2