Saturday, 4 June 2011

Derby Day.

Today is Derby Day here in the UK. Whatever you think about horse racing - and I have very mixed feelings about it (from the horses point of view AND from the point of view of the thousands who bet more than they can afford in the vain hopes of winning a fortune - haven't they every noticed how rich the bookmakers are?)

Television coverage starts at something like 1pm although the actual race is not until 4pm so we have interminable less important races, looking at what the posh folk are wearing, taking a close look at the horses etc.

If you are in the position of being able to go into the enclosure then a certain type of dress is de rigeur. This got me thinking about dress codes and how in most walks of life they seem to have almost disappeared. The days when you had to take posh clothes to eat in restaurants when you went on holiday seem to have disappeared in all but the most exclusive establishments (and those awful cruise liners when you need a different outfit for each night.)

In the country of course there is the Barbour brigade who frequent shoots, point-to-points and country fairs dressed in lovat green expensive outfits (the men mostly although the women seem to almost wear the same uniform).

At the Auction Mart on a Friday here in our little town, where the real countrymen gather to buy and sell their stock - or look at what someone else is paying or getting paid for= the dress code is rather less formal. Wellington boots are pretty essential as you never know what you are likely to tread in. Trousers need to be tuckable into said boots but can be held up with a twitched- in belt or - in an emergency - baler band. (orange seems to be the preferred colour up here). Heads are for caps - often rather dirty, particularly if you are a dairyman and spend time with your head (and cap) pressed into the side of a cow. In winter the cap often gives way to a thick woolly hat pulled down well over the ears. Anyone who went to the Mart dressed in posh clothes would certainly be viewed with suspicion that he or she was 'playing' at farming.

I don't think corduroys are worn as much as they used to be. Roger Deakin in his book 'Notes from Walnut Tree Farm', which I have just finished reading, says of corduroys - "I now realise that all these English country gentlemen outfits (of brown corduroys) were designed to make you look as much like a ploughed field as possible."

But I have wandered away from today's Derby - sorry about that. The Queen is an ardent racing fan and her horse Carlton House is favourite to win today. It is the one big race she has never won. Wouldn't it be nice if her horse won today, whatever you think about horseracing?

6 comments:

Dave King said...

I only once went horse racing: to see the Derby the year Gordon Richards won it, Stanley Matthews got his cup final medal, and I was on the winner. Get out while you're ahead, I thought.

Heather said...

I do hope the Queen's horse wins today. We went to a race meeting over 50 years ago with 8 races on the card. Knowing nothing about form, we decided what we could afford to spend on a day out, divided it by 8 and put that amount on each race. Everything lost and even Lester Piggott fell off his horse, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a super day. As for the outfits worn at race meetings - most of them look highly unsuitable for the weather or comfort. I'm showing my age with that remark!!

steven said...

weaver i remember visiting a pub in north yorkshire after a long day on the pennine way and i'd changed into a pair of white running shoes. the local farmers trooped in and were gobsmacked at the sight of these ping pong ball white footwear in their local. one offered to walk over them a few times in his big green wellies so as i could fit in a bit better!! lesson learned. there are dress codes of all sorts everywhere you travel and everywhere you work.

Titus said...

Ooh, we were on a wild painting expedition and missed it! Was the Queen the winning owner? I hope so!

As to market clothes, my father started getting ready at 5am to go to market (much to my mother's disgust - he was noisy!) and he went three times a week minimum (Ashford, Maidstone and Rye, sometimes Bury if we were short or prices too high elsewhere). Of course, he was a buyer, not a seller, but was immaculate - twill trousers, shirt and tie and sports jacket. Cap or trilby, most usually cap. And never, never, wellingtons. He had a thing against wellingtons; they were only for the slaughterhouse, and even then only if you were on the killing line or scrubbing up. Proper leather boots for everything else. He did have a pair of wader-length wellies for when he was sorting out the drains, which he had to do fairly frequently!

Pondside said...

All true here, with regards to dress code. There is no horse racing on the island, although years ago there was harness racing.
The uniform here is a horrid old quilted plaid jacket, jeans, rubber boots and a ball cap with a team/company/equipment logo nearly worn off (or a toque in the winter). The Great Dane is forbidden to go past the end of the drive in that outfit.

Leilani Lee said...

Interesting thoughts on dress codes. We have been amazed on more than one occasion at the informal attire people wear here to what would be "dress up" occasions -- funerals and weddings -- appearing as though they have come straight off the farm -- which indeed they have. I have had a delightful time teasing my sister about the upcoming wedding of her daughter, hinting that hubby will be wearing his bib overalls with a flower in a button hole.