Because Chris is in a position to meet lots of people, he sometimes gets some clutch invitations, and that is why we were at a Polo match on Saturday. It was the Hackett Rundle Cup Match, held at the Tidworth Polo Club also on the grounds was Tidworth House, which is a recuperation center for wounded soldiers.
A collegue of Chris’s had given him a “pitch side” parking and we were able to drive up to the end zone, or goal, or whatever they call it. We setup our gazebo, a multiple piece pole puzzle, and tables. Melissa had made us a great lunch, and we settled in to watch the show. It’s an all day event, with 4 games. To warm up there was a match between hunt riders and jockeys (the second chukka of which was done on bicycle.) Next followed a youth game, and then a match between the Combined forces team and the South African team. The final match was between the army and the navy, and was the premier match, with the best players and the most hooves-flyin excitement.
If you can imagine polo to be a combination of the Kentucky Derby and NASCAR, you might have it about right, with a big bowl of British military thrown in. There was tailgating, but at some of the bigger tents they had leather couches laid out. People were drinking beer, Pims, champagne, and you could also get ice cream, crepes, and there was a coffee bus run by a man named “Colonel Grumpy.” There were several regiments that had big tents, and they had their regimental silver on the main dining table. The artillery regiment had actually hauled along a couple of canons to dress up their display! If that all wasn’t enough you could try the bouncy castle and the stalls for shopping, just in case you needed to buy some hunt clothes and polo mallets and some sort of special belt that all the fellas seemed to be sporting on their red or khaki pants. Most people were dressed as for a moderately fancy summer party, dresses, slacks, a fair amount of ties, very few shorts and jeans. There were also many, many of the young officers types wearing a blue checked shirt. It seems to be a thing.
Now, presiding over all this is Simon. Oh Simon. No other sporting match in the world should be called by anyone other than you. So Lt Col (Retd) Simon Ledger of the Light Dragons was the commentator, and such a commentator he was. From the very first minute he narrated the action, not only that was on the field, but also noting the personalities that passed by: “hello, hello. Love the dress!” “There is the nonchalant figure of Gaston.”
Some of Simon’s gifted observations:
If the clock was running down “the sands of time, beginning to slip away with some rapidity here.”
“Sticks twirling in the afternoon sun!”
When a shot missed: “Sigh of regret!”
“That’s a lovely backhand…oh it smacks into a pony!”
When the award for best pony was given: “Ladies and gentlemen, we may be heroes ourselves, but we are nothing without our ponies.”
But the highlights definitely came in the last match. First of all, he calmly announces that the number two player on the army team will be “Captain Harry Wales,” which is Prince Harry, yes that’s right, THE Prince Harry. Chris and I looked at each other, and Melissa was heard to utter a curse and scramble for her camera. This was an unannounced appearance, and there was a bit of a murmur from the crowd. We were all attentive now. So on goes the game, and Simon was in his element as he called it, but the big moment was when a dog ran on to the field. Simon had cautioned us earlier to put our dogs and our children on a lead, so we may never know how this one broke free, but it did and raced right in among the horses near the sidelines and there was a gasp from the crowd and a booming “BLOODY HELL, CHRIST ALMIGHTY!” from Simon and “Get me my gun, I’m going to shoot someone.” The dog was retrieved, and Simon, who had asked multiple time for champagne to be sent up to his booth added, “and now the bottle arrives to calm my palpitations….we’ve got an exciting match here with dogs and princes.” Make sure as you read this that you add the British accent, and do everything at top volume, as they really had the speaker up.
It was a fine day, a great cultural experience and when it was all over, (“all done and dusted,” Simon would call out) there was the awarding of prizes, which was a great chance to get a few pictures of Harry, and of course, the best pony (we are nothing without our ponies.) (the best pictures of Harry and the horses are from Melissa’s camera.)
I’m not sure if there is a way to have Simon narrate my whole life, but I am looking into it.