The Daily Telegraph
THE KING AT ASCOT. FIRST DAY IMPRESSIONS.
RACING AS A SIDE-SHOW.
It is human to want to be part of the show yourself. That primitive emotion has made and keeps Ascot what it is. To other race-meetings the world, and even his wife, may go for the sake of seeing horses run; at Ascot, with no actual objection to looking at a horse if the animal gets in the way, they are present in order to be seen themselves. They are not primarily spectators, but performers. This, no doubt, accounts for the singular geniality and amiability of Ascot. When you are all part of the show, you must at least pretend to be enjoying yourselves. You would not for the world admit that it is dull, and so the thing goes like a children’s party.
This year the suggestion that you are in the cast and not looking on will be powerfully made some time before you reach the course. The younger part of the population between Ascot and London is convinced that your pilgrimage is made for their delight. They cheer you as if you were part of a circus, and there are places where traffic is slowed down and vocal crowds of ingenuous youth collect in which nervous folk begin to wonder whether they are really as comic as the voice of the people affirms. But these moments of uneasiness are fleeting. Some of us anticipated a trainless Ascot with dread. Some of us recalled from other years very strenuous passages of Staines Bridge, and remembered people arriving by car late in the afternoon, and, like the daughters of Asshur, very “loud in their wail.” If these things were done in the green tree, when that admirable train service was running, what, we asked ourselves, would be done in the dry, when everybody had to go by road? Our alarms were vain. The first day may be no safe standard for the days to come, but the fact is that yesterday morning there were no difficulties. In places it was necessary to go slow, but if anybody’s total running time was excessive it must have been his own fault. For the greater part of the journey there was no more congestion than is normal on a main road. As for disposing of your car when you arrived, that also, which used to be one of the harrowing difficulties of Ascot, was beautifully simple. There was, according to the old copybook maxim, a place for everything and everything in its place – temporary garages just where they were wanted, and so planned that you could have your car out on the road again in a moment. Let us pay our tribute to the organisers. It seemed that if there is anything necessary in the world, the familiar admirable train service was necessary to Ascot. But this year’s meeting is one more piece of evidence that nothing and nobody is indispensable.
A GAY SCENE.
It is not the nature of Ascot to depend upon massive effects. If you cannot be happy without the company of multitudes you should stay away. But there were quite enough people for any reasonable taste. The Royal Enclosure, the paddock, the stands showed no sign of transport difficulties. Beyond the course the numbers may have been smaller, but the amateur eye saw no conspicuous difference, save that, in the language of the nabob, there were “more chariots,” very many more chariots on the heath. Somebody was heard to complain that black and white were well enough in themselves, but that Ascot should attempt richer harmonies. But the normal eye registered plenty of every colour in the spectrum.