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John Bone: Goose pimples and a long queue

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Looking on the bright side of that wet Ladies’ Day at the July Course, while I waited for over an hour in the rain outside the Mozart Restaurant, I fell into conversation with a young lady lawyer who was entertaining her female office staff to a treat at the races. As goose-pimples erupted on their tanned skin exposed by flimsy frocks, they ganged up on me, trying to sell me their services in making a last will and testament. Nor would they accept my assurances I had already made one. Fortunately, they were very sweet about it.

I have never been into the ladies’ lavatory beside the Champagne bar at the July Course but I know what’s wrong with it. Architects and commissioning committees suffer from the same numbskull delusion. They think ladies demand the same space in a building as the gents. Since ladies need cubicles and gents have rather cruder arrangements, this is plainly nonsense. Yet the architects and those who pay them choose to ignore the truth. So on Thursday, (Ladies’ Day so help me!), a ceaseless queue of elaborately dressed ladies was forced to wait in the rain.Meanwhile, above them on the walkway between the two elevated restaurants, more ladies queued for an hour or more to get what eventually turned out to be a very good lunch served by harassed but charming staff in an inadequate space. You might think the queue, which continued for about three rainy hours, was able to shelter from the rain. But no, the restaurant roof canopies were thoughtfully designed to drip on the amazingly patient ladies, whose flimsy fascinator headdresses failed to act as the sou’westers really required. Small wonder the course authority graciously offered free tickets for a meeting in October. I hope to be there, but if rain threatens, I’m not sure I’ll bother.

It is interesting that if a village has a shop and/or post office, estate agents go out of their way to mention them because such rare assets increase property values. In this connection, I hope Wood Ditton parish council’s brave initiative towards saving the Three Blackbirds succeeds. But would it be supported?

A couple of weeks back our obituary of a Cambridge scientist whose funeral was held at Burwell, mentioned that his chief interests in life included listening to Dennis of Grunty Fen episodes first broadcast on Radio Cambridgeshire.

I only hope Peter Sayers, the Newmarket-born creator of Dennis, reads that news in heaven. If he does, then let me further inform him of something that was not in the obituary: before his death the scientist asked for one of Pete’s famous Grunty Fen songs, the Rhubarb March, to be played at his funeral.And I have another encouraging news snippet. I hear that Pete’s long-time comedy partner, Christopher South, is shortly to publish the first-ever official guide to Grunty Fen. Can’t wait.

I commiserate with Frankie Dettori as he is obliged to drop the selling price of his luxury Stetchworth home by a cool £300,000 down to £2.45 million. That £300,000 could have bought two nice houses at Mildenhall, but no stables.

Newmarket’s new Legends of the Turf commemorative walk is an inspired idea, cribbed from Hollywood but none the worse for that. No doubt it will grow over the years and may, after centuries of poorly paid service, even one day include a slab dedicated to that true hero, the Unknown Stable Lad.

 

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