In a tights spot

With the sea­son of wed­dings, horse shows and mem­bers’ en­clo­sures upon us, Eve Jones finds her­self strug­gling with dress-code sen­si­bil­i­ties

The Field - - YOUNG IN THE FIELD -

So it would seem we are in the throes of show­ing sea­son. A sport that I have no in­ter­est in at all be­cause I am an in­cred­i­bly lazy hu­man who can no more look af­ter her own ap­pear­ance to gen­eral lev­els of good taste than an an­i­mal’s. I also find my­self in an ag­gres­sively wed­ding-heavy sum­mer, which seems to in­volve sim­i­lar lev­els of groom­ing and com­pe­ti­tion to a HOYS qual­i­fier.

I re­cently went to a wed­ding where it was noted that I wasn’t wear­ing nude tights with my knee length skirt. Well, yes, I’m sorry, I wasn’t wear­ing nude tights be­cause nude tights ARE AW­FUL. A man I used to work for once said that the in­ven­tion of tights was the death of ro­mance. If it’s gus­seted sausage cas­ing vs stock­ings, then I agree but I hardly think a naked calf de­nounces me as a har­lot. And while I don’t spend a huge amount of time think­ing about ladies’ gus­sets, those tights re­ally do get on my wick. Not only are they the same colour as skin and there­fore en­tirely point­less, I re­sent the ar­chaic no­tion that you have to wear them to be proper or fully turned out. It’s a non­sense. They are ugly, shiny and un­com­fort­able. We used to cut the feet off and pull them over my un­cle’s Afghan hound’s head to stop his hairy ears go­ing in his din­ner, which proves their ex­treme re­stric­tive­ness. I refuse to wear them.

I just don’t go in for clas­sic groom­ing; I’m more your fancy-dress com­peti­tor than best turned out. A few years ago I re­fused to be a brides­maid for a friend if I had to wear the same dress as the other girls be­cause grownup women dressed iden­ti­cally is weird. Sorry, but you don’t show a shire horse in a show pony’s sad­dle, do you? For­tu­nately for me, she dumped her in­tended be­fore she had to dump me.

My tol­er­ance for main­tain­ing horses’ tails and plait­ing up is per­haps even worse than that for main­tain­ing my own mane. The mop on my head is cut once a year but I would hap­pily scalp a horse to avoid groom­ing it. I’d be di­a­bol­i­cal at show­ing. I mean, I’ve seen peo­ple dye their horse’s legs pre show­ing class. Dye them with ac­tual hu­man hair dye to please the judge, which is men­tal. I’ve never even dyed my own hair. Ex­cept my mous­tache when I was a teenager (though it turns out a furry blonde cater­pil­lar looks just as bad as a brown one so I whipped that off af­ter any­way). I sim­ply don’t have the pa­tience for all the preen­ing. That sort of dis­ci­pline needs to be drilled into you as a child. Look at all those freaky lit­tle show­ing kids. They’re like Step­ford chil­dren or pig­tailed ro­bots on Vase­line slathered show ponies from the get go. What hope did a wild-haired, porky pony-club­ber on a Heinz 57 Thel­well num­ber have?

I am more en­ter­tained at county and agri­cul­tural shows where there’s greater grass­roots va­ri­ety. I’ve some very fond mem­o­ries of my grand­dad tak­ing me to a show in South Wales and mar­vel­ling at the rib­bons and the feath­ers on the shire horses pulling drays. For some rea­son, I’m not in the least riled by show­ing farm an­i­mals. In fact, I es­pe­cially love the rare breed sec­tion. There’s noth­ing so bril­liantly Bri­tish as a blow-dried fleece and com­pet­i­tively pris­tine ud­der and in­evitable bad be­hav­iour in the ranks is a spec­ta­tor’s bonus. Se­ri­ous jam­judg­ing com­ments are al­ways worth a read, too, and I love gi­ant veg­etable com­pe­ti­tions – there were onions the size of footballs at the Dufton agri­cul­tural show last year.

I’ve been in­vited to lunch at The Fes­ti­val of Hunt­ing in Peter­bor­ough this sum­mer. An in­ter­est­ing thing about hunt­ing is that many peo­ple who ob­sess about their dress and their horses of­ten don’t think about the qual­ity of their hounds. I vis­ited the Beau­fort and VWH ken­nels last sum­mer to pho­to­graph their best breed­ing stal­lions. Fore­man and States­man were se­ri­ous sorts and it didn’t take a box of Nice ’n Easy hair dye to see it.

The Fox­hunter’s Bed­side Book, com­plied by Lady Ap­s­ley in 1949, quotes Lord Chaplin as say­ing, “It is eas­ier to find a good prime min­is­ter than a good hunts­man”, but I am an­tic­i­pat­ing the noted list of fox­hounds, har­rri­ers, bea­gles, blood­hounds, work­ing ter­ri­ers, fell hounds and gaze­hounds will be tes­ta­ment to the ded­i­ca­tion this coun­try’s many hunt­ing peo­ple de­vote to pre­serv­ing tra­di­tions through sport and blood­lines. This aside, I sus­pect there’s go­ing to be some ex­cel­lent peo­ple-watch­ing, too, as these shows tend to vary from a sort of Ma and Pa Larkin vibe to Rut­shire Chron­i­cles.

Where there are horses and hounds there’s usu­ally good gos­sip, af­ter all.

I’m imag­in­ing lunch to be a wash of panama hats and smart sum­mer frocks amid an­ti­quated bowlers and so on but I’ll be bound to get the dress code wrong. I’m used to it, though, it be­ing a com­mon af­flic­tion of one who blags her way into mem­bers’ tents and other peo­ples’ par­ties last minute. My mum used to let me choose my clothes when I was small, to teach me about life choices or shut me up, I sup­pose. She said I al­ways looked dread­ful but was very happy. I’ve im­proved, I hope, but the sen­ti­ment re­mains. I’m stay­ing mind­ful of her les­son of in­de­pen­dence be­cause surely at a wed­ding lit­er­ally no-one sane should care what I wear as I’d re­ally hope the bride is more in­ter­est­ing than my pasty naked calves. My turnout con­di­tions are that the proper ex­trem­i­ties will al­ways have an ap­pro­pri­ate swathe of cov­er­age in the show ring but you will never EVER get me in a pair of those aw­ful nude colour tights.

What hope did a wild-haired, porky pony-club­ber on a Heinz 57 Thel­well num­ber have?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.