The british class system has never been more obvious to me than yesterday. We went to the Henley Regatta and there was a definite social divide. I also discovered that people don’t go to Henley to watch the rowing, they go there to see, be seen and to drink lots of Pimms. People watching was the main attraction and there was plenty to watch!
There are SO many rules and regulations surrounding the regatta enclosures, even the plebville Regatta enclosure that we were in, of which anyone can apply for tickets and gain entry to. There wasn’t a dress code here, but most people got into the spirit of the day and wore lovely sun frocks and there were head pieces a plenty. The rules were about where you could take your drinks, you weren’t allowed them down by the river, or past another point down the other end and men in full suits (which must have been VERY hot) would stop you from moving past in a polite yet firm manner. This meant that many people didn’t see the action on the water all day, preferring to sit in the garden by the bar. We scored a table in the garden area, beating off a very presumptuous man who slid into the seat as the other table were departing and pompously told us he had six in his party so Miss Grant and I weren’t welcome. He didn’t know who he was dealing with, as we took OUR seats, gave him a withering look and comment and continued our conversation. We ended up taking over the whole table as Dee, Cynth and Jaim arrived. Girl Power! (sorry, know that is cheesy, can’t help myself)
The Stewards enclosure is full of rules and regulations and there is a several year waiting list for this enclosure – here, it’s REALLY not about the rowing, it’s about a social occasion dahling! (This is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the Stewards Enclosure) The Stewards’ Enclosure is also known for a strict enforcement of its dress code. Men are required to wear a “lounge suit, blazer and flannels, or evening dress, and a tie”. Women are required to wear a dress or skirt that covers their knees, and are “encouraged to wear a hat” (although women wearing hats is often frowned upon in higher rowing circles). Anyone not suitably dressed can be refused entry, no matter their prestige in rowing or elsewhere.
Bec couldn’t have put it better as she commented when we were leaving, ‘I don’t like being down the bottom of the food chain’. Quite frankly, neither do I. On the events I normally go to, the money dictates how you play it out, like at the theatre – you choose your seats based on how much you want to pay for your ticket. Here, you don’t have that option. It was a nice day and I don’t think the Stewards Enclosure had a lot more to offer than the Regatta one (from what I could see) but knowing that I wasn’t allowed entry had me a little piqued.
Here’s our digital diary of the day’s events…